Distance Isn't EverythingIt's the Only Thing: This past Saturday while sitting in the grandstand behind the 17th hole at the Greenbrier Classic and making mental notes for duties as my son's caddie for the West Virginia Amateur later this month, I commented to my son Jeremy that, at the time, none of the players who had gone for the par-5 hole in two shots had scored any less than par 5, while most of the players who had laid up to about 85 yards with their second shot had made a birdie 4 on the hole.
We watched group after group play the hole, and sure enough, very few of the players overall who went for it in two ended up with no better than par.
Conversely, the players who laid up to a comfortable distance generally ended up with birdie. We discussed what we would do when playing the 17th in the West Virginia Amateur, and I assured Jeremy that as his caddie I would "strongly suggest" that he lay up to about 80-85 yards, which I think is the smart play.
What most players do on a par-5 hole is to try to get the ball as close to the green as possible in two shots, which often times is not the correct play.
This thought process can and often does leave the player with a shot that is not from a comfortable distance or a shot that is not in a location that is easy to hit.
By laying back to a comfortable distance, generally you are hitting a shot for your second shot with a shorter club, and it is often times one that you feel very comfortable with hitting. Also by laying back, you often take any trouble up around the green out of play, thus taking the potential for extra, unnecessary shots off the scorecard.
So the next time you are faced with a long second shot on a par-5, hole lay up to a comfortable distance and with all the practice you have been doing with your short game, you should be able to knock that third shot close to the hole and get that well deserved birdie.