Playing Par 5's: Challenge Or Lay Up Like Zach Johnson ?
Zach JohnsonLast week I wrote about Zach Johnson's amazing win at Augusta.  We can only imagine how his world has been turned upside down with a whole new level of media attention, demands on his time, and who knows what could be going on inside his mind.

In the new issue of Golf World I received this weekend, there was more insight into his outstanding performance that we all can take heed of. 

Again, we have been brainwashed for the past few years that Augusta had been converted into a monster of a golf course so much that only a dozen or so players hit it far enough to win.  And it's always said that only great putters can win at Augusta.  To my way of thinking, Zach Johnson proved the experts wrong on both counts.

First of all, we know he's not a big hitter.  He was 157th on tour in driving distance coming in to The Masters. 

For the week, he was 57th in the field of 73 in driving distance with an average of 265 yards.  What's interesting is that none of the top 16 finishers were in the top ten for the week in driving distance ...

Also, young Mr. Johnson suffered through six three putts at Augusta, more than 46 of the 60 players that made the cut ! 

Who would have thought that would lead to victory, right ?  To me, the telling stats are those that we all can take advantage of. 

Zach Johnson was T2 in driving accuracy, finding the fairway 45 times, which means he only played from the rough 9 times for the whole week !  That's probably why he also was tied for fourth in Greens in Regulation with 44, which led to his ranking 3rd for the week in birdies.

Last week I wrote about his strategy on the par fives - not going for any in two, but hitting his wedges so precisely he birdied 11 of them !  Well, he made only four other birdies for the week (total 15), so his focus on dissecting the par fives was apparently pretty darned smart.  What can we all learn from that ? 

Here's my take.

One, regardless of how long the course is, if you drive it in the fairway you'll probably score better. 

Here's an experiment for you to prove that.  Go out some afternoon and play your course without your driver - use your three wood off the tee, and focus on just hitting it in the fairway more often. 

Sure, you will find slightly longer approach shots, but see what it does for your score. 

Secondly, hit all your approach shots to the fat middle of the green, using one more iron than you would think necessary and making a nice smooth swing at the ball.  Finally, on all par fives, lay your second shot up to about 100 yards, rather than trying to get it close to the green.

If you do these things, you'll be playing your course like Zach Johnson played The Masters. 

He won, didn't he ?
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[ comments ]
Artful Golfer says:
I learned the importance of accuracy over distance after playing with an 80 year old golfer who beat me by hitting every fairway with 180-200 yard drives. Since then, my index has dropped from over 10 to under 4! Fairways and short game is where it's at.
Mike says:
I'm on the way to play the Hampton Cove courses along the RTJ Golf Trail.

I promise to lay up on all Par 5's and see how I do.

I'll report back.
Pappy says:
You're right - it works. And it's a lot less frustrating.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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