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It’s something you’re going to hear a lot about at this week’s US Open. Grain runs through Bermuda grass, something that can make chips from around the green very challenging.

Indeed, the greens at Pinehurst No.2 are hard enough as it is. The Donald Ross design features putting surfaces more like upturned saucers and if you miss them, you’re in for a tough time.

Defending champion Wyndham Clark even went as far to call the putting surfaces “borderline,” suggesting that we might have a situation where balls simply won’t stick the green.

But, it’s not just the severe slopes and quick speeds that might cause havoc this week. Players will also have to contend with grain around the greens, which essentially means that the grass grows more horizontally, rather than vertically. If your shot requires you to hit a shot into the grain, any slightly heavy contact could make you look very silly, very quickly.

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One man who will be hoping to navigate this potential card-wrecker is 2022 Open champion Cam Smith, and when speaking to Johnson Wagner from Golf Channel, the Australian explained how he intends to conquer it.

“Around the greens, those upside down saucepans. There’s going to be a lot of putting from off the greens. I think the lie will kind of dictate what club I use this week. I’ve got a high bounce 56° and a low bounce 60°. For into the grain shots, I like to just grab the 56°. It has more bounce and it allows me to add a little bit more loft.”

It might usually be the case that Smith would opt for the more lofted of his wedges on delicate chip shots, but as he alludes to, the high bounce on his 56° gives him more margin for error.

A wedge with plenty of bounce is less likely to dig into the short but sticky turf, meaning that a mishit might still end up near its target.

“There’s not a lot of grass there,” Smith continued. “It could definitely be grainier, but there’s still a fair bit there.”

Smith then starts to hit some shots towards fake holes, and shows that by raising his hands, he can take some of the leading edge out of the equation on tricky shots.

“On a shorter shot, I’ll definitely raise the hands and definitely take out as much of that (contact with the ground) just because you don’t have as much speed.

“Speed and loft, generally around the greens, are your friend.”

While Smith, who is excellent with a wedge in his hands, is using this technique on tough turf, it’s something that might help you, regardless of the grass you chip on. Raising the hands at address in your chipping can help to take the heel and leading edge out of the equation, which helps to keep duffs at bay.

On his third and final chip on the segment, Smith shows that he is human, and that even a slight mistake can lead to an outcome that can make the best look clumsy.

He catches his chip a little heavy, with his ball only just reaching the putting surface.

If you’re a nervous chipper at Pinehurst this week, it might be wise to reach for the flatstick.

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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