Par 5 Strategy

By Chris Foley






This season my column in Tee Times is going to focus on playing the game of golf and on course strategy and approach to help you score better. 

If you were able to watch the Masters this year one thing at was talked about a lot was the lengthening of the par 5 13th hole.   Augusta National added 40 yards to the hole returning it to a fantastic risk reward hole.  In recent years players who it a good drive could hit a short iron into the green making it more of a par 4 than par 5.  With the hole playing 40 yards longer players who hit good drives now had to hit a long iron or fairway wood into the hole often off an awkward lie.  Even for the best players in the world hitting a long iron to a narrow green over Rae’s Creek creates anxiety and some decision making. 

When playing a par 5, especially a risk reward hole like 13 at Augusta National you must take a couple of things into consideration if you have an opportunity to hit the green in two.

  • What is the aim point so that your average shot dispersion with the club you are hitting does not finish in a bunker or penalty area.
  • If you need to carry a penalty area to reach the green, can you comfortably carry it hitting a shot that only carries the short yardage of your average shot dispersion with the club you are hitting.

Taking this into consideration, if the risk of finding the bunker or penalty area is greater than the reward, what club do you lay up with? Do you hit a club to lay up to a specific yardage or do you try to get the ball as close to the green as possible. 

Statistically, average medium proximity to the hole gets smaller, the closer a player is to the green.   In other words, a shot from 50 yards finishes closer to the hole on average that a shot from 100 yards and a shot from 25 will finish closer than a shot from 50 yards.

Managing your way around the course is a learned skill.  Considering the risk/reward of going for a green in two.  If you can’t reach the green, play the percentages and try to get the ball as close to the green as possible.