By Paul Myers
Short par fours are some of the most exciting holes in the game. The possibilities are nearly endless when you walk onto the tee of a short par four – you could drive the green and make an eagle, or you could hit a bad shot and get into all sorts of trouble. Professional golf tournaments love to include short par fours because of the drama and excitement they generate, such as the famous 10th hole at Riviera CC.
Have a Plan
Do you have a standard plan that you use when you face a short par four? Some golfers tend to go for the green every time it is within range, while other players exercise more caution and only take a shot at the green when they are sure they can hit the target. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer in this case – but it is important that you know what kind of player you are, and what kind of shots you are willing to attempt.
You should have something of a ‘default’ plan in your mind for all short par fours, and you can then adjust based on the specific design of each. For instance, if you are a long hitter and an aggressive player, you can have it in your mind that you will go for the green on any par four under 300 yards. With that said, you might choose to lay up from time to time if there is a large hazard or maybe windy conditions that make the shot more difficult.
The last thing you want to do is get caught in-between when playing a short par four. That means that you don’t really commit to going for the green, but you don’t commit to laying up either. Instead, you hit the ball awkwardly close to the green and leave yourself a difficult shot for an approach. If you are going to lay up, commit to that choice and lay way back so you can make a full swing with a wedge to set up a birdie putt.
When going for the green, think about the location of the hole and the next shot that you are going to need to hit. For instance, if the hole is cut way on the right side of the green, it is probably going to be best to hit your tee shot up the left side so you have plenty of room to chip (assuming your ball doesn’t finish on the green). If you go right for the hole and wind up short sided, you may have a difficult putt and any advantage that was gained from going for the green will be lost.
In the end, it is going to be up to you whether or not you wish to take a shot at the green on a short par four. It is certainly exciting to give it a go, but it can also cost you strokes if you aren’t careful. Take all of the factors into consideration, and make your final decision with total confidence and conviction.