Course Strategy


Curious as to some of your thoughts regarding course strategy. Did/do you view the par-5’s at most/all events as your highest birdie potentials in the tournaments you played? After listening to Bubba Watson describe his victory at TP this weekend I wonder if I’m not “thinking right” prior to a round of golf. He talked about birdieing all the par-5’s which is what you “had to do” to win.

That makes total sense even if you have no chance of hitting a single one of them in two. You should be able to readily play to a “good number” through conservative but smart 1st and 2nd shots and a solid wedge game. I’m not a bomber so it may be different for you cats, but I’m wondering how you viewed the 5-pars in general before an event. Were those the high-probability birdies you tried to capitalize on?


Isn’t that amazing…Bubba played 16 par 5 holes and finished 16 under. …So for the par 3’s and par 4’s he was even par… in reality he really shot even par because the Par 5 holes were just par 4 holes for him.

The 13th at Torrey Pines, his drive was ridiculous…I could hardly ever reach that hole in 2 shots when I played there about 8 different years in the tournament and here he was hitting it 363 from the tee and having a wedge in. It’s ludicrous. That hole has nowhere else to be moved to as the beach and hang gliders are right behind the tee, so it’s a par 4 for him every year as they can’t lengthen it…

there would another way however, limit the pros driver heads to a specific height and size and CC…then we would see a different type of game played and par may actually mean something again on a par 5 for these guys.

Asian weapons master: “Conan, what is your best course strategy?”

Conan: “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women!” :wink:

Captain Chaos

I agree obviously with Bradley, that today’s game is nothing more than guys shooting even par when you see -16 on the scoreboard. The players today are not nearly as good if you take into consideration that they are playing par 68’s every week.

As far as strategy, I try to give myself as many uphill birdie puts in a round as possible… certainly this is my thinking when I am striking it well enough to consider such things. If I am not particularly striking it well, I make sure my miss is going to favor the easier chip shot. I usually don’t go at a par five unless I have a favorable chance at making 3. I’m pretty good at pitching the ball, so I like to be thinking of my leave for that third shot before I hit my second. If the pin is front right and there is a front right greenside bunker, I might consider going for it in two if I think that I could spin a bunker shot from the sand there and still make birdie. If it were a lake or long grass hazard I would lay back. You have to take into consideration your own game. When I swing hard at a shot I tend to draw it. It’s either going to go dead straight or draw… rarely hook.
So I play for that shot with the consequences in mind.

If I take the 17th at the TRGA I tried to kill a drive off the tee so I could get on the up slope just short of the green with would be offer a simple pitch up the hill for an easy birdie. I knew if my drive didn’t turn over, I would be just right of the green which would likely offer me plenty of green to work with for the left side pin placement. As things worked out, I ended up under a pine that didn’t allow me to pop the ball up… It was a calculated risk that I took and I would still play the same shot again. There were a couple of trees over there, but not walled in by any means.

Getting back to the 5 par… since I play persimmon, I am usually coming in with a wood, not an iron… so if say the pin is back right, and there is trouble right… but a little less trouble left… maybe just long grass and a sparce tree or two, I might take my fairway wood right at the pin and have a rip at it… if it stays straight I give myself the opportunity for a 3, but if I draw it left based upon my tendency, I find my ball left of the green with plenty of green to work with for a pitch from longer grass or even having to keep a pitch underneath tree branches… I might like those odds.

I am always thinking birdie on most 5 pars…

just reading Reid Sheftall’s book at the minute and he has some great observations regarding the way pro’s play par 5s.

Alex Saary gave me what I feel is great advice regarding par 5s. Unless getting there in two is danger free, the strategy is defend, defend, attack.

Unless you have my wedge game! Defend, defend, pray. :wink:

Captain Chaos

And Phil came second after stooping as low as only two fairways hit in his second round…

OOHHH…didn’t know that about Phil, but nothing surprises me anymore… it really is a huge indication that the tee shot- which Ben Hogan regarded 'The most important shot in the game of golf"- has been replaced as not being necessary at all- and it’s a sad fact that has become the game of golf and a huge reason why precision golfers who control their ball and avoid most of the trouble and hit the fairways have been overtaken by the power smasher who is 6 foot 3 and just wails away…
I will give Bubba Watson a bit of credit because he seems to be able to harness his power on many holes and still hit some good drives down some tight fairways but I would like to see him go at it with a persimmon or a smaller headed metal driver…I doubt the result would be the same???..and as we stated he was 16 under for the par 5’s and finished 16 under so they really are just par 4’s for him

What additionally I find with the DDA approach is it doesn’t set up for major disappointment that being greenside in two does when one walks off with a par. That can be a hard disappointment to shake off for the next tee.

But I’ll take my chances at AA if the wedge game has been proving loose today. (That’s Attack-Attack, not Alcoholics Anonymous)

Steb will know this and the holes I am talking about and our other Aussie guys should…holes 6 and 7 at Huntingdale where they played the Aust Masters for years on end are both par 5 holes…they are both very tight from the tee… low scrub (tea-tree) and trees line both sides of both holes… You could reach both holes in 2 shots if you got a drive away…even more so with the big beastly headed drivers.
Anyhow, in 1998 when I won and shot the record 24 under score…I hit 3 iron from the tee, 3 iron lay up and then a pitch shot…in rounds 1, 3 and 4… I think I may have gone for the 6th and the 7th the 2nd day and scrambled for par on 6th and actually bogeyed 7th by playing too aggressive from the tee and with the 2nd shot (that screw up made my choice easy for the final 2 days!!)

My mindset was… these holes are tight…they are risky…I am putting well…I can play defend/defend and then attack with a wedge and seeing I am putting well I should birdie one of them each day which is cool… as you don’t have to birdie everything…as it turned out thats exactly what happened… I birdied both on saturday and 1 out of the 2 on sunday…while guys around were trying to attack them and were pinging tress on both sides of the fairway and having pars or bogeys or worse.

those same two holes in 1996 I attacked from the tee in Saturday’s 3rd and the Final round…On the 6th hole I hit bad drives too far right into the neck of the the fairway area and made a double (7) and a struggling par 5 on the 6th hole on the weekend and on hole 7 I made a par 5 saturday and a up the wrong fairway, smack a wedge over a 1000 foot gum tree for a lucky par on the sunday…and lost to Parry by 2 strokes because I played those holes 2 over on the weekend.

Just like Lag has mentioned about Nicklaus on the 10th tee at Augusta in '86…“Let’s stay aggressive Jackie, hand me the 3 wood”…when you have a club in your hand you know you can swing with confidence into the fat part of the fairway, you can avoid the silly mistakes…that’s why the defend/defend/attack works many times because you aren’t making a defensive swing… you are actually on full out attack mode but with a club that most people would not call an ‘attacking’ choice of club selection

I think what Hugo is describing is one of the main differences between a good amateur/professional and a tour pro.

Reid Sheftall also describes how a tour pro thinks if he does hit a poor shot. In his opinion, if a tour pro hits a poor shot he will then try to hit one good shot from the next three to try and save par. An amateur will go for the heroic shot every time, a tour pro knows when is the right time to hit the heroic shot.


Tee shot leaves you behind tall trees, its a 4iron to the green but you need a 7 iron to get over the trees. You could try to bend the ball around the green but if you don’t pull it off you could go through the fairway and into trees on the other side or a hazard.

Most weekend warriors will take on the hero shot every time because they pulled it off once. They might make par (or even birdie) but they also bring double and worse into play. The tour pro is more likely to hit the 7 iron and trusting his short game make par with an up and down from 50 yards.

Dr Karl Morris asks the rhetorical question of players that work with him, “Is it easier to make a 50% improvement to your swing, or to make a 50% improvement to your decision making?”