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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