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hendog

Lay up or go for it (Par 5)

43 posts in this topic

This seems to come up in a lot of threads but I wanted to collect it all in one spot. (I searched and did not find a dedicated thread so if I missed it please redirect)

How do you decide? Do you have an "always" or "never" approach? Maybe a yardage that gives you the green light? There is certainly no one "right" approach but I seem to go back and forth and make my decisions ad hoc so I wanted to see how others approach it.

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I play just two courses where the decision would need to be made. One has a big lake in front of green, from the edge of the water to the center is 98y and at 568y from the middle tees you'd really have to crack a killer drive and follow it up with another perfect shot. Needless to say I've never seen anyone go for it in 2. Honestly getting there in 3 is tough. The other has a layup area with a marker flag in the fairway about 230y from the tee. Behind that a massive patch of inaccessible ESA, middle tee distance 582y. To carry it requires length and accuracy not seen from many amatuers. Most are lucky to carry the ESA from the fairway after anything but a perfect tee shot. Everything else the worst that could happen would be missing the green or leaving it short in the rough.

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Choosing good course strategy as an excuse not to hit your long clubs isn't good. Taking stupid risks isn't good either. If you have the shot in the bag, do it because 90% of the time the penalty isn't that bad. If you can't realistically reach, or there's water or something, by all means lay up.

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Considering all 4 par 5s on my home course are over 500 yards and i rarely hit a drive 240, it's an easy answer. The 2 without hazards before the green have trouble up and down both sides so i do not see a lot of people going for any of them in 2.

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Originally Posted by LuciusWooding

Choosing good course strategy as an excuse not to hit your long clubs isn't good. Taking stupid risks isn't good either. If you have the shot in the bag, do it because 90% of the time the penalty isn't that bad. If you can't realistically reach, or there's water or something, by all means lay up.


I agree to a certain extent. Some times I have an approach that is possible but I know that a PW and then SW gets me tight where as the 5W or 4I might actually leave me a tricky shot that I may only get on but not close plus there is always the chance I poo poo it into the trees or something.

I've been through the "always" go for it and rely on your short game approach but now I am leaning more towards dialing in my 100 yard shot and just getting there and then stuffing it tight.

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Originally Posted by Jason M Henley

This seems to come up in a lot of threads but I wanted to collect it all in one spot. (I searched and did not find a dedicated thread so if I missed it please redirect)

How do you decide? Do you have an "always" or "never" approach? Maybe a yardage that gives you the green light? There is certainly no one "right" approach but I seem to go back and forth and make my decisions ad hoc so I wanted to see how others approach it.

If there are no hazards or problem areas to avoid, then I will hit it as close to the green as I can every time.  If there is a water hazard near or in front of the green, or OB close by, then I have to be within about 215 or 210 to consider going for it.  Anything longer that that, and the risk of the trouble is too great for my current abilities, so I'll usually lay back to whatever area makes the most sense.

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In the absence of a big hazard - (we have a par 5 here that's clearly silly for me to ever go for the green in two (even with the perfect tee shot for me, there's a big lake and a semi-island green).  Otherwise, I've been going for it anywhere inside of 250 (3 wood range for me).

I hit my fairway woods better than my long irons - so it's an easy risk tradeoff

But a few times when I was alone on a couple courses I tried both the fairway wood and the 5 iron from the same spots a few times (hit two balls).  The results were pretty equivalent for me - I'd still have a good approach with either shot but like the different between a PW vs a 9 or 8.  But occasionally I'd get the Fairway wood really nice and put it on our near the green.

So the odds for me are the Fairway wood and go for it - for now.  As I get better and better with the approach shots, I think laying up will become a better option in terms of choosing a club that gives me a nice angle and distance for preferred shots.

Fairway woods are Nike VR Pro Limited - about my favorite in the bag right now.

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If it's a pretty straightforward hole where a reasonably average drive from me will leave me within 260yds then I might take a driver off the tee and go for it.  If I have no chance of hitting it in 2 then I'll rarely even hit a driver off the tee.  I can get home and nice and tight with a couple 4i and a wedge or short iron instead.  Not exactly exciting but I'd rather a birdie 5/10 times than an eagle 1/20.

My buddies used to always look at me strange when I don't pull out the driver all the time; taking their money after makes up for it though.

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First i take in the hole design and were my driver will end up. If there is significant trouble were my ball will land that's usually automatic take out 3-wood or less and go for laying up

Second, if i am able to hit driver, then when i get to the ball, am i comfortable hitting the long iron or more into that green. Usually i am good with a 5 iron and lower, so i can go 195 and less to any par 5, unless the green is absurdly protected by water or hazard, then i will lay up no matter wait to make sure i have the accuracy.

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Unless there's a hazard that I risk not being able to carry that forces me to lay back , I'm always going to try to get the ball as close to the green as possible. I'm a firm believer that closer is always better.....
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I am not a long hitter so when I have the chance to reach on my second shot when I am on a par 5 I usually take it.  I have only actually made it once or twice that I can remember but its usually worth it anyway.

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Originally Posted by Jason M Henley

This seems to come up in a lot of threads but I wanted to collect it all in one spot. (I searched and did not find a dedicated thread so if I missed it please redirect)

How do you decide? Do you have an "always" or "never" approach? Maybe a yardage that gives you the green light? There is certainly no one "right" approach but I seem to go back and forth and make my decisions ad hoc so I wanted to see how others approach it.

If the opportunity is reasonable for distance and minimal danger, then I'd go for it.  If it's too far, or if there is a significant amount of potential trouble, then I'll lay up to a safe location and distance.  For me, no shot is ever just automatic.

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The two medium length par 5s where I play end up in distance range every few rounds. Both, however, have deep bunkers around the long, narrow greens. So, if you miss when going for it, you may blast right over the green trying to come back to center.

If I could fly the ball in, I might go for it, but trying to bounce it on is a no-go.

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Lots of great responses.

I see a lot of "get it as close as you can" strategies. I have found that I am more accurate from 80-100 than 20-80 so that is why I will lay back. From 80-100 I know how to dial in a SW but inside that it just becomes guess work and I may get it close or I may not even get it on. So if I can get to a chip or putt then I will go but my wedges are so accurate right now its hard for me to "take the bat out of their hands" to use a baseball saying. Bottom line is if I am 80-100 out with my 3rd shot, I am getting a par or better 95% of the time if not more. If I go for it, I bring in bogey, double or worse and I just can't stomach that.

Obviously we all have different course setups we are playing too and since most of us don't travel and play a lot of courses, our strategies will be honed for those courses.

Good stuff. Keep em coming.

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Originally Posted by Jason M Henley

Lots of great responses.

I see a lot of "get it as close as you can" strategies. I have found that I am more accurate from 80-100 than 20-80 so that is why I will lay back. From 80-100 I know how to dial in a SW but inside that it just becomes guess work and I may get it close or I may not even get it on. So if I can get to a chip or putt then I will go but my wedges are so accurate right now its hard for me to "take the bat out of their hands" to use a baseball saying. Bottom line is if I am 80-100 out with my 3rd shot, I am getting a par or better 95% of the time if not more. If I go for it, I bring in bogey, double or worse and I just can't stomach that.

Obviously we all have different course setups we are playing too and since most of us don't travel and play a lot of courses, our strategies will be honed for those courses.

Good stuff. Keep em coming.

Yeah, I used to agree with you on laying back.  Then I read (on here as a matter of fact) a tip that you should always get as close as you can because, in general, the shorter the shot, the more accurate you'll be.

My original thought, like yours I imagine, is that a full swing is easier to replicate than a 30, 40, 50 or 60% swing.  If I take 10 full swings, the dispersion of those shots, distance-wise, is going to probably be less than my mid-handicap skilled partial shots.  However, I believe that I more than make up for misjudgments in the length of backswing on those partial shots with better contact (I'll skull it with a full swing a lot more often than a pitch), and better direction.  The farther the ball travels, the farther it will travel sideways too.

On the other hand, I also have to contend with the idea that my 3 wood might stray into the rough or woods, whereas my 6 iron has a better chance at staying in the fairway, so those factors will also have to be considered on courses with penal rough or a lot of trees.

In general though, I am now of the belief that a shorter shot is ALWAYS better than a longer one, all else being equal.

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A few months ago me and my buddy ended up in bunkers on the right side of a par 5 dogleg left. There's about 320 left and my buddy can't even get a straight shot to the fairway unless he hits an 8 iron or so. The lip lowers drastically on the left side, to the point where its almost level with the grass. He grabs a driver, aims about 80 yards left of the 150 stick and cuts it onto the fairway with 110 left in. I'm in the forward bunker and there's a 50/50 chance I can't clear the lip with a 3 wood. I go for it and put it around 105 and we both make par. Could we have played it safe and still made par? Yes. Could our shot selection made us both end up with 8's on the hole. Of course.......but I'll remember those pars for the rest of my life.
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