There are two shots in golf that get the ego inflated quickly: hitting the green on a par 3  and having 220 yards left on a par 5 after your drive. Every time I approach a green on a par 3 that I am putting for birdie, I start thinking what the birdie putt will do to my scorecard and mental I move on the next two holes and then miss the putt.

The other trap springs on par 5s where the second shot is on the edge of my ability to reach the green in two. My mind goes screaming through a list of very positive thoughts. “An eagle would be so redeeming after the snowman on the last hole. I could beat my best performance. I just need to make that eagle putt.” Notice what is missing from this plan? Did I hit the green on my second shot?   It is an assumption that I will because I hit a great drive.

I hit a great drive because on that shot I concentrated on that shot alone and nothing else. Now, my mind is two or three holes further down imagining a string of birdies this eagle, which I have not scored yet, ignited. I will hit a good shot again only if I maintain my concentration during each shot and right now I do not have it.

Par 5s are journeys to be enjoyed. Do not rush the destination. Think about the club you use from 200 to 225 and its accuracy. Can your 3 wood hold a green? What is the width of landing area of your 4 hybrid? We have not even discussed what is guarding the green. Are there traps to swallow errant shots? Is there a large false front to lure you in? Can you even see the green?

White Clay Creek 1
Going for the green in 2 on Par 5. Is it worth it?

If you take a step back and leave your ego for a minute, think over your strategy and what shots gives you the best chance for success. What if you go for the green in regulation, 3 shots? Do not aim for the green but for 50 yards out. Instead of releasing the Kraken and trying to hit 225, take an easier swing and pop a 175-yard shot that you can do in your sleep. My money is that the second shot will roll right where you want it. You can then whistle up to it with your wedge in hand.

Common errors from overpowering swings are but not limited to:

  • Topping
  • Pulls or slices
  • Hitting behind the ball
  • Random success

I say random success is an error because no one will be more shocked then you when you hit the green. I have done this from time to time. As I approach the green, dreams of eagles fly through my head. These dream soon evaporate as I see the resulting putt I am left with which is never pretty. Getting a par from eagle opportunity is a demoralizing score even though it is just fine.

If you can hit that big shot consistently, go for it. Before you mash down the B button for added power, be honest with yourself. What is the most likely outcome to this shot and in turn your game?

I played a course that on a par 5 in the general landing area of drives there was a yardage marker on a sprinkler head. The sprinkler head read “EVERYTHING IN YOUR BAG.” This is either a dare or a warning. The wise golfer takes the warning and plays to their strengths.

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