Par 5s are often rated harder holes than par 3s. You don’t have to take golf lessons to figure out why. There’s a lot of ground to cover with these 7 golf tips on par 5s. That leaves room for more bad shots than with par 3s or par 4s. So, high handicap golfers should consider playing par 5s conservatively. This approach pays off more often than not.
High handicap golfers also should focus on keeping their drives in play. Distance, in this case, is less important than the location. Chances are it’s going to take three shots to reach the green anyway. Sacrificing distance for placement is the smart play. So, don’t be afraid to drop down to a fairway wood or even a hybrid off the tee.
Below are seven other “rules” for playing par 5s. They’re not hard and fast. But they’ll help you dominate par 5s and save strokes.
1. Avoid gambling on the second shot
It’s great reaching the green in two on par 5s. You get two chances at making a birdie. But few weekend golfers can hit a par-5 green in two. Thinking of reaching the green in two spells trouble. It leads to overswinging and pull hooks. Instead, find a good landing spot for your third shot and aim for it. Gambling on your second shot often leads to double and triple bogeys.
2. Play within yourself on recovery shots
Golfers have different playing styles. Phil Mickelson, for example, plays aggressively. Justin Leonard, on the other hand, plays conservatively. Both styles can beat par 5s. So, embrace your style of play, but don’t try to do more than you can do. Trying to hit a miraculous recovery shot, for example, often leads to trouble. Instead, take your medicine. Play within yourself.
3. Respect hole locations
It’s tempting to aim for the pin on your third shot. But you should only do it if the pin is in an accessible location, like on the back part of the green. In that case, you have a lot of green to work with. If the pin is in the front of the green and protected, however, play it safe. Aim for the middle of the green. You’re still on the green and putting. Planning like this save strokes.
4. There’s no shame in laying-up
Some weekend golfers love going to the green. They’ll even go for it when there’s serious trouble in front of the green. That often spells trouble. Instead, work on laying up to a favorite yardage on approach shots when there’s serious trouble protecting the green.
Use landmarks to gauge distance from the hole. If you have a GPS device, use it. Also, if you’re laying up, look for landing spots with level lies on these shots. The easier the shot, the less chance of you finding trouble.
5. Use soft grip pressure on every shot
We all like to follow bombs off the tee with solid second shots. But in trying to hit an awesome second shot, golfers often grip the club too tightly. Strangling the club like this creates tension in our hands, arms, and shoulders. Trying to hit pinpoint shots with so much tension in your body is hard. Use soft grip pressure on every shot.
6. Control the outcome if you miss
The PGA’s Jose Maria Olazabal plays par 5s well. Often, he can reach par-5 greens in two. But sometimes he misses. When he does, however, he controls where he misses. That saves strokes. Work on trying to control your approach shots when you miss your landing spot. That saves strokes. It also sets you up for easier recovery shots.
7. Learn to hit pinpoint wedges
Reaching the green in two is e great. But if you’re like most players I give golf lessons to, you’ll need to hit a wedge into the green. So, work hard on hitting accurate wedges at the range. That skill will help you par 4s as well.
Practice hitting wedges to different spots on the range on every shot. That helps you improve club control. You should also work on hitting partial wedges. They can help you save strokes on par 5s, too.
You need to hit good approach shots to own par 5s. But you also need to use your head when playing them. You don’t need golf lessons to tell you that playing too aggressively or too conservatively on par 5s doesn’t get it done. Embrace your style.
Strategy-wise, stay away from trouble down the side. Control the outcome of your misses as much as possible. And forget about hitting miracles shots out of trouble. Instead, play smart. Use the “rules” discussed above and you’ll dominate even the tough par 5s.
Playing Par 5s: Golf Tips and Tricks
Golf lessons are great. If you take them with a club pro, you can learn a lot about swing mechanics and hitting shots. But golf lessons don’t always get into hole strategy. So when it comes to certain types of holes, like par 5s, you’re flying blind. That can cost you strokes. It also can jack-up your score.
Below is a five-step approach to playing par 5s that can help you own them no matter how tough they are:
Five keys to owning par 5s:
- Choose the right club off the tee
- Assess your lie on the second shot
- Evaluate the danger area/pin location
- Assess the potential landing zone
- Embrace the layup shot
Many weekend golfers dislike par 5s because of their distances. But par 5s are a golden opportunity to make birdies. That, in turn, cuts your scores.
1. Choose the right club off the tee
You don’t always have to hit driver off the tee. You can hit a fairway wood or a hybrid. After all, it’s probably going to take three shots to reach the green. So, use the club that gives you the best chance of landing in the fairway. That sets you up for the next shot.
2. Assess the lie for your second shot
The second shot is often the key to beating par 5s. So, you want to make a good shot here. Start by assessing the lie carefully. It will determine which club you can hit. Hitting a 3-wood off a sloping rough is hard to do well. Using a different club might be better.
3. Evaluate the danger areas and pin location
Having determined your club for your second shot, you want to note danger areas and pin location. These determinations will help you pick out a landing area for this shot. Stay away from trouble at all costs.
4. Evaluate the landing zone
Having picked out a landing zone for your second shot, assess it carefully. Is it in a spot that will help make your third shot easier? If the pin placement is short-sided and protected by a bunker, for example, you may want to aim for the green’s center. It never changes.
5. Lay-up if the situation calls for it
There no shame in laying up on a par 5. Often, it’s a smart move. That’s especially true if the flag is protected by water or a massive pot bunker. Sometimes golfers try for a miracle shot on their second swing. That can dump them into a hazard and tack strokes on to their scores.
Use the simple five-step approach above when playing par 5s. It’s a practical golf lesson that can help you own par 5s no matter their length or difficulty. That, in turn, will cut strokes from your scores and your golf handicap.
Use This Golf Drill to Help Conquer Par 5s
If you want to dominate par 5s, you need to hit solid approach shots. That’s especially true for hitting the 3-wood. If you’re like many weekend golfers, however, you hit a 3-wood poorly. You either top it, shank it, or chunk it. Golf teachers, unfortunately, don’t always teach this shot in their golf lessons.
One reason why golfers mis-hit 3-woods is simple. They come out of their postures and straighten up before hitting. That’s a deadly swing flaw—no matter what the club. The golf drill below teaches you to stay in your posture no matter what club you’re hitting—3-wood, 7-iron, or PW.
Windmill Golf Drill
Place a ball on the ground. Then address it without a club. You should be parallel to the target line with your back bent forward at the waist. Your arms should be hanging straight down. Now stand up straight and stretch your arms out to the side. They should be parallel to the target line and the ground.
Now make your backswing. Keep turning until the tips of your forward hand point at the ball, and the tips of your trail had point at the sky, then stop. Now unwind. Keep going until the tips of your trailing hand point at the ball and the tips of your other hand point at the sky.
Keep doing the exercise until you’ve ingrained the feel of this move. That’s how your swing should feel when you’re staying in your posture as you hit you’re 3-wood. Ingrain this feel in your swing until it’s second nature and you’re making it on every swing.
This golf drill teaches you to stay in your posture no matter what the club. If you’re taking golf lessons with a club pro, ask him or her to show you more drills that can help you hit solid 3-woods off the fairway.
Hitting solid 3-woods on par 5s can help you conquer these holes. It can also cut strokes from your scores. And that can help you break 80.