Lay Up on a Par 5

You’ve just crushed a dri­ve down the mid­dle of the fair­way on a par 5. The aggres­sive side of you wants to knock it on the green in two and make a 15 foot­er for eagle. Of course, mak­ing it on the green in two on a par 5 rarely hap­pens for a begin­ner or high hand­i­cap golfer and more often puts you in a bad posi­tion, either in a haz­ard, bunker, or green side rough. You should be very selec­tive in the times you go for the green in two on a par 5. If the green is sur­round­ed by haz­ards, your best play is to lay up, which sim­ply means to hit a shot short­er than you are capa­ble of.

When lay­ing up, instead of going for the green in two, you hit your sec­ond shot to a safe part of the fair­way with a remain­ing dis­tance that leaves you a full wedge shot. The advan­tage to lay­ing up is that most of the time you will be clos­er to the hole in three shots by lay­ing up instead of going for the green in two. Devel­op a layup dis­tance that you can repeat­ed­ly shoot for. The dis­tance I usu­al­ly lay up to is 100 yards, but choose the dis­tance that is best for you based on your wedge play.

By lay­ing up, you are also tak­ing dan­ger­ous shots out of play. You may not need dri­ver off the tee if you are play­ing three shots to get on the green. You may be able to reach the green with a 3 wood, mid iron and wedge. Along with leav­ing the dri­ver in the bag, you are also tak­ing a high­er risk sec­ond shot with a fair­way wood out of play. Lay­ing up and tak­ing three low­er risk shots gives you an excel­lent chance at hit­ting a green in reg­u­la­tion and hav­ing a putt for birdie.

There will be times when being aggres­sive, going for the green in two on a par 5, will be the best play. You may have hit a boom­ing dri­ve right down the mid­dle of the fair­way and have a clear sec­ond shot to a green with min­i­mal haz­ards sur­round­ing it. These are the times to be selec­tive­ly aggres­sive, go for the green in two if you have the dis­tance to make it, and try to score low. The rest of the times play it safe and lay up on par 5’s.

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