The back 9 on Sunday at the Masters is usually one of the most exciting stretches in sports.
One of the many reasons for that is because of two reachable par 5s, Nos. 13 and 15, that can swing momentum to or away from any player in contention.
Zach Johnson famously won the Masters in 2007 by laying up on those par 5s and accepting easy approach shots to make birdies instead of eagles.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have employed different, more aggressive strategies on their way to their combined seven green jackets, mostly opting to go for the green in two for hopefully an eagle opportunity or at worst an easy birdie.
Par 5s in general are my favorite holes on any golf course because in my mind they are automatically a birdie hole.
Any player who’s playing from the correct set of tee markers should have an opportunity to reach some par 5s in two shots, or at the very least, lay up to have an easy approach with a wedge. The strategy you employ on par 5s will likely need to vary based on several issues.
Here are a few guidelines to make sure you make the right choice the next time you’re not sure what to do:
• Assess risk versus reward. Whether your risk is losing a tournament or simply losing a golf ball, you’ll want to weigh your options. However, one rule always applies; only attempt a shot you are comfortable hitting. If hitting 3-wood from the fairway never works out for you, the second shot on a par 5 may not be the best time to try it. Instead, choose your favorite club and lay up.
• Pay extra attention to your layup shot. Laying up means you are hopefully able to position yourself to make an easy third shot to the green. Avoid hazards and know ahead of time what distances you are comfortable hitting from so you can carefully select a layup club to get the ball to the correct distance.
• Birdie is always a good score on any hole no matter who you are. The idea on a par 5 is to maximize your chance for birdie. Play to your strengths to do just that. If you have a great short game, then you can be more aggressive on your second shot, knowing that if you miss the green you have an excellent chance to get up and down for birdie. If you’re more comfortable approaching the green from 100 yards, then you are better served laying up to your comfortable distance.