How to Score Better on Par 5’s (with On course playing Lesson video)

by Steve | Last Updated: 24 December 2020

Have you ever walked off a par 5 with a bogey, a double bogey or worse and then asked yourself why can’t I play Par 5’s better?

You’re not alone, I think most Golfers will at some stage have wondered how to score better on par 5’s

Course designers put hazards in specific places to catch golfers out so scoring better on Par 5’s is nearly always down to having the right strategy for the hole. For the average golfer, playing within the limits of their own game, and having a more conservative approach usually results in lower scores on Par 5’s.

It’s often much better for a higher handicap golfer to try to get on the green in the regulation three shots, rather than trying to get on in two shots, as this eliminates much of the risk from each of the shots.

What Is A Par 5

For players new to the game you may not know what a par 5 hole is.

A Par 5 is the longest hole on the golf course, usually more than 500 yards, but some can be in excess of 600 yards, and even more for the Pro’s and Elite players.

Because the hole is longer it can be a bit more intimidating or even overwhelming to play.

It’s called a Par 5 because you get five shots to be able to score a par.

Which doesn’t make it so bad.

Sometimes a 540 yard par 5 is easier to play than say a 440 yard par 4. Because of that extra shot.

If you break the hole down in to sections you can get to the green in the regulation three shots, and then two putt once you get on the green.

It sounds easy on paper, and it is if you follow a few simple steps, which we’ll now dive into.

Layout of the Hole

First up let’s think about the layout of the hole.

  • Is it left to right, right to left, fairly straight?
  • What are the conditions like, is is soft ground or firm?
  • what’s the weather doing?
  • which way is the wind blowing?

Blimey, that’s a lot to think about before you even hit a shot and your head may already be full of swing thoughts and bad memories from the last time you played the hole.

Don’t worry when you have a good course management strategy these are the things that you think about before you get into the zone to hit a shot.

You’ll soon get in the habit of doing it and it will become second nature and will happen in just a few seconds.

Where the hazards are

The obvious things you can do are to avoid going in the hazards. Make sure you find out how the far the trouble is and choose a club that will make sure you don’t reach or that you will easily go past it.

If you’re going to lay up, may sure you lay up properly and don’t risk hitting a Sunday best and going in the hazard that you were trying to miss

It’s really important that you know how far you hit each of your clubs, so if you don’t know yet spend some time recording your distances, or for a quick fix, book in for a gapping session with your local pro or club fitter. Be sure to find out your average carry distances not just your longest shots.

What are you playing like today

How you’re currently playing in this particular round should be a huge indicator to the strategy you choose.

If you’re striping the ball and you’re feeling confident then you should hit your shots with authority.

But if you’re having a bit of a shaky time then play within yourself but still commit to the shot in hand. Don’t let what’s gone before be the reason you hit another bad shot or make a poor decision

Having a game plan for playing the Par 5

It’s super easy to look at the hole, or a course planner, and choose the best strategy for making a par. After you have worked out your yardages, try and leave your favourite distance (or club) for your approach shot in to the green.

And don’t gamble with your second shot. If you only have a 20% chance of pulling off the 240 yard over water shot, then it’s often best to opt for the 80% shot that will find the fairway and set you up for a decent third shot.

If your key strength is in your short game and putting, like mine, then it’s just about getting on or near the green in regulation.

It doesn’t really matter that you may have hit a fairway wood, a mid iron and a full wedge instead of driver, long iron and chip, to reach the green if you are going to do the damage with the putter.

Sticking to your plan for playing the Par 5

This is a key one.

Don’t try to play perfect golf. Things can and probably will go wrong.

Go forward golf is often all you need.

I’ve seen countless players lose their heads after a bad shot on a par 5 that very quickly turns from one bad shot into another and a par quickly becomes a six or seven or worse

If you duff a tee shot (you can still make par) or if you fat a second shot, (you can still make par) or if your approach missed the green (you can still make par)

If you tell yourself you can still make par after hitting a shot that you weren’t happy with, it will make it less stressful for you, and you won’t take unnecessary risks.

Keeping statistics of your Par 5 performances

Keeping a record of how you have played a hole, the clubs you hit and the outcome of each shot, definitely helps you create a stategy for playing that hole.

It’s based on your own performances, so be honest with yourself and act on the information that your game gives you.

From my own experience, I know that I make birdie or par on par 5’s far more often when I play to get on the green in three, rather than going for it in two.

Yes, by doing this I am taking Eagle chance off the table, but I am also minimising the risk of anything worse than a bogey too. I don’t know about you, but my lowest rounds are the ones that have less bogeys in them rather than more birdies.

here’s Rich playing a Par 5

Here’s Rich playing a par 5 and showing higher handicappers how to break 100.

The par 5 is usually a scorecard killer for higher handicaps because their swings aren’t as reliable just yet. But Rich offers up some great advice on club selection and hole strategy. Its a great course too so enjoy the view.

Final Word

Par 5’s can be good scoring opportunities but they can also be card wreckers if you just try to bully the hole. But that’s not to say that every now and then you shouldn’t try to hit the big dog as far as you can and make the hole as short as possible.

If you do that, keep a track of the stats and then adjust your plan for the next time you play the hole.

And be honest with yourself, if you need to play to get on in three rather than two, then do it because you will more often than not have a lower score.

if it turns out you’re better smashing everything long because your short game is not so hot, then that’s what you shold do.

Which ever way you choose to go, you will identify a weakness in your game that you can then work on to improve even more.

Steve King, the founder of Fore King Golf, started playing golf at the tender age of 29, after years spent playing many other sports and getting dodgy knees. Although late to the game, Steve soon fell in love with the sport and found himself, like many others, addicted to the pursuit of improvement and playing better. He is currently a member of The Kendleshire Golf Club & Hercules Golf Society, as well as running several competitions for Fore King Golf