Greenside assistance

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – At 6,740 yards, Saucon Valley Country Club will prove a stern test for the girls at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open. There were three or four holes during Meaghan Francella’s practice round today where she had to hit a big 3-wood just to reach the front edge of the green. Should the wind switch or the course receive a little rain, these holes may not be reachable for her and many of the players.

To prepare for the possibility that she may come up short, I had Meaghan practice a ton of lofted chips and pitch shots from the rough. The key to getting these greenside shots up and down, besides leaving the ball in the right place (where you can have an uphill putt for par), is keeping the clubface square through impact. The rough can grab the hosel of the club and shut the face down very easily, leading to poor contact and bad directional control.

At address, open the face slightly so the toe is just behind the heel. This way, if the club does close down some it will be square through the impact area. Make sure to lean the shaft forward at address and maintain this angle through impact, because if you allow the clubhead to pass your hands early you’ll expend all of the club’s energy before it gets to the ball, and it will go nowhere. You need some speed on this shot, so lead with the handle and make a descending blow into the ball with a square face.