Most par 5s are a challenge—even for golfers with low golf handicaps. These holes can really hurt your scores if you double and triple bogey them. It doesn’t matter what you do on the other holes. If you’re going to break 80 consistently, you can’t let these holes beat you. You have to beat them. The best way to do this is to develop a good game plan for attacking them. Below are five “rules” you may want to include in your game plan.
1. Play It Safe Off The Tee
Most par 5s are not reachable in two by weekend golfers. But that doesn’t prevent some golfers with high golf handicaps from thinking about doing it while on the tee. This is risky. To reach most par 5s in two, you have to bomb your drive and hit a great second shot. The thought of doing this often leads to overswinging. Overswinging is especially dangerous if there’s trouble on one side or water in front. Don’t gamble with tee shots. Instead, play it safe and stay within yourself. You can still make a birdie if you reach the green in three.
2. Consider The Hole Location
Hole location is a key when playing into a par 5 green. If the hole is in an accessible place, like the middle or back of the green, you can go for it. But if it’s not in an accessible location, like the front of the green or tucked away to one side behind a bunker, try to leave yourself a comfortable approach shot. It’s often easier to wedge it close from well back than when you’re short-sided, especially for golfers with high golf handicaps who have poor short games.
3. Eliminate Worst-Case Scenarios
Try to eliminate the worst-case scenarios when hitting into a par 5 green, we tell students in golf lessons. If you have a good short game, look for shots that if you miss, will land you in areas where you excel at getting up and down. This strategy allows you to play aggressively while still downside risks. If you know your capabilities and you use good strategy, you can eliminate many of the worst-case scenarios, saving you strokes. If you don’t have a good short game, work on developing one.
4. Lay Up Smartly
It takes three shots to hit the green on most par 5s, so learn to lay up smartly. Hit to a spot where you can hit into the green with proficiency. You don’t have to fixate on a specific length when laying up just to a favorite distance, we tell students in golf instruction sessions. For many weekend golfers, that’s about 100 yards out. Learn to recognize landmarks that reveal where you are, like trees, bunkers, and yardage markers. If you have a GPS device, use it.
5. Play Par 5s Conservatively
Professional golfers often think of par 5s as difficult par 4s. Many golfers who come to our golf instruction session think the same way. If this is you, change your thinking. You’re not a pro. Think of par 5s as par 5s. Play them conservatively. They offer more opportunities to hit into disaster, so eliminate as much risk as possible. Get the ball in play off the tee, don’t gamble on your second shot, and don’t shoot for tucked pins on the third. It’s hard to break 80 if you mess up on the par 5s, so be cautious with them
These golf tips will help you dominate par 5s. Think of them as “rules,” not to be violated unless there is good cause. Adhering to them closely can help you score on these holes. Doing this will also help you break 80 and, in time, shave strokes from your golf handicap.