124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

U.S. Open

U.S. Open 2024: Johnson Wagner reveals fascinating tip for putting from off the green this week (after chunking a chip, of course)


Watch (or read) any U.S. Open pre-tournament coverage this week and you will undoubtedly hear about the off-the-green putting masterclass Martin Kaymer put on at Pinehurst a decade ago, which helped him to an eight-shot victory. Watching those highlights back has led many to believe that Pinehurst is a perfect fit for Viktor Hovland, who can leave all the wedges in the back when he misses greens this week and whack away with the flat stick.

But just because Kaymer did it so successfully in 2014, does that make putter the prudent play from off the green in 2024? Pinehurst is not nearly as "brown and down" this week as it was 10 years ago, though a little bit of heat and no rain—which appears to be this week's forecast—could dry things out. Still, the beauty of the runoff areas just off the treacherous Donald Ross greens is that they provide players with a variety of shot options. 

Already this week, we've seen Tiger Woods practicing little bump-and-runs with a 4-iron:

And here's Collin Morikawa practicing a shot from just off the green with what appears to be a 3-wood, which he nearly jars:

As creative and pleasing to the eye these shots are for the regular golfer, one can't help but ask -- why not just use the putter? Both Woods and Morikawa's shots stayed low and rolled true, much like a putter would. Having said that, putting into the grain on Bermuda grass is much more difficult than it looks. 

Golf Channel's Johnson Wagner revealed a fascinating putting tip on his latest and greatest greenside segment on "Live From" Monday evening, one that could help pros and amateurs alike when they are facing a tricky greenside shot on tight Bermuda. Of course, Wagner tried using both a lob wedge and an 8-iron first to display all the different options players have this week, and he naturally chunked the lob wedge. The man is going through it with his short game right now.

Once Wagner went to the putter, though, he hit his best shot of the bunch, rolling his ball inside of seven feet to the hole. Prior to doing so, he gave out a great tip for how he's always handled putting off the green on Bermuda. 

"This is the club I'll be using the rest of the week a la Martin Kaymer," Wagner said after being handed his flat stick. "Grass is a little bit furrier than it was in 2014. If we don't get any rain, it may dry out. What I like to do when I'm putting off Bermuda, I like to lean my hands back a little bit, adding a little bit of loft so it really skips over the ground."


By doing this and getting the ball to "skip," as Wagner says, he's making sure his ball avoids the initial "grab" that Bermuda grass often has greenside. If you've ever attempted to run up a shot on Bermuda, or to putt from well off the green, you know what he's talking about. What you think is going to be a nice shot that rolls out onto the green often takes one terrible first hop on Bermuda and comes up well short. 

"It's no question for me, it's putter all week," Wagner said. 

Wagner was obviously speaking about himself, as we'll likely get a few more of these A+ segments this week. But putter certainly does seem like the smartest play for most. Except Scottie Scheffler, who Wagner said used a lob wedge from the same spot he was putting from during practice and had no issue getting them to take one hop onto the green and check up nicely. Shocker. 

"I don't feel like I'm going to make a 'mess' with the putter," Wagner explained. "I'm going to get it up on the green confidently. Maybe I'll make a few bogeys, but I think my chances of getting it up and down consistently are much better with this club in hand."

The full, six-minute segment can be viewed below: