124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2



Putting Strategy

Pros are good at putting because they do these 3 things really well

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It's U.S. Open season, which means the greens are crispy, lightning fast, and in the shape of Pinehurst Golf Club, shaped like turtle shells.

With balls rolling around, over, and through the greens easier than when they settle on the surface, Pinehurst severely tests players' ability to putt well.

So that's what we explored in our most recent of our video series The Game Plan, which you can watch below (and subscribe to on YouTube right here).

The easiest way to understand how pros navigate around the greens is to divide up the space around the hole into three different circles. I call them scoring zones, and as we explain in the video, here's what you need to know about each.

Scoring Circle #1: Three-shot zone

The first scoring circle is the distance furthest away from the hole. Generally speaking, it's anything outside about 50 feet, which usually encompasses chips and pitches. From here, it's more likely that you'll finish out in three shots, than in one shot. The goal from here, as Eduardo Molinari explains, is to hit the green and avoid disaster.

Golf Twitter Hall-of-Famer Lou Stagner had a great stats thread recently explaining how, more often than not, that means looking for an excuse to pull a putter.

Scoring Circle #2: The black hole

We call this the black hole because this is where two-putting is the most likely outcome. The exact distance of each of these scoring circles depends on ability level, but for pros, the black hole starts at about nine feet and stretches to about 50 feet.

The goal here is to not be drawn into silly mistakes by trying to make the putt. Going high and soft gives you the best chance of making it—and leaves you in an ideal spot if you don't.

Scoring Circle #3: 'I should make this'

Once you get inside about eight feet, you're in the 'I should make this' zone. The key to this zone is making a lot of putts, because that's how you'll be able to gain the most on your peers. Obviously that's easier said than done, so this zone comes down to, above all else, making sure your putterface is square at impact.

Once again, you can watch the full Game Plan video right here: