Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

Short Game

Tom Watson's Tips: When You Have To Play Up From A Collection Area

October 20, 2016

Photo by J.D. Cuban

During the past 15 or 20 years, American golf courses have copied the old British links by implementing collection areas. Miss a green, and instead of ending up in deep rough, your ball is sitting on a super-tight lie below the putting surface. Over in the U.K., the simple play from these spots is to putt up the slope. But that's not always an option in the U.S. Sometimes the type of grass on the slope is too slow and grabby, or there's a sprinkler head or another obstacle that prevents a rolling shot. These are the times when you have to fly your ball onto the surface. But using a sand or lob wedge for a short shot from a tight lie can unnerve even the best of players.

There are two keys to remember. The first is to keep your head still. Grab one of your most lofted wedges, open the face, and when you swing, make sure you concentrate on hitting the back of the ball. The second key is acceleration (above). You can't slow down or stop your swing in fear of hitting the ball too far. This is an all-or-nothing shot.

If you keep your head steady and commit to the swing, you should leave yourself a decent chance to get up and down.

If the pin is pretty close to where your ball is in the collection area, try hitting a lower-trajectory chip. It's safer than lofting it high. The idea is to get the ball to bounce into the slope, pop up and trickle onto the green. Hitting into the slope takes all the momentum off the ball and makes it possible to stop it near the hole.

I use a 5-, 6- or 7-iron and the same swing thought I do for the high shot: Head still, focus on solid contact.