How to save par

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – I spent the morning with Meaghan Francella out at Saucon Valley Country Club, charting the course for this week’s U.S. Women’s Open. We walked the entire course, trying to determine where she needed to leave her approach shots on each hole to give herself the best chance at making par. In most cases, it was below the hole, so she could have an uphill run at it, but there were some holes where I told Meaghan she’d be better off missing the green entirely.

You’re probably thinking Breed’s gone crazy, but it’s true, in a U.S. Open where par is a GREAT score, and the greens are super slick, you’re sometimes better off missing the green and hitting your approach shot into the bunker or somewhere short of the green where you have an uphill chip or pitch to the hole.

A perfect example at Saucon Valley is the par-3 17th hole. This hole plays downhill, and the green falls down to the left, away from the tee box. It’s a “redan hole,” meaning the green is wider than it is deep and the left side of the green is farthest from the tee. If you miss your target to the outside, and leave yourself with a putt down the slope, you’re going to make a sure bogey.

For the average golfer, par is always a good score on a par 3. When you’re preparing to hit your tee shot, be cognizant of where you want to leave your approach shot. Ask yourself, ‘Where can I put this ball to give me the best chance at making par?’ It might not always be on the green, especially if you’re faced with a sucker pin or a severely sloped green.