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10 tips to help you improve your par 4 score

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Learning how to handle par 4s will help your game immensely.

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Par 4s often create the greatest challenge and variety on a golf course. Long, short, wide, narrow, well bunkered, water obstacles, lined with trees; there are a lot of obstacles that you will encounter during a round.

Their variable length and width will allow you to use many different clubs in your bag and also test your short game. Use the following tactics to master par 4s no matter what they throw at you.

1. It starts on the tee

While a good tee shot is important on every hole, that’s especially true on the par 4s. We’ve all had those rounds where our tee shots just look wrong. Catching a bad distance or recovering from a problem makes the game exhausting.

Setup is key to hitting good solid tee shots, which includes good grip and posture. Good ball position, further forward in stance so that the shoulders tilt away from the target and the trail shoulder is lower than the head, will help promote the slightly upward strike on the driver.

2. Plan ahead

Whether you hit your tee shots well or badly, you should always plan your lines around the next shot. For higher handicaps, whose golf ball spends more time rolling on the ground, this means working the angles. If the green is protected by a large bunker on the right side of the green, you should aim more towards the center left of the fairway. Assuming the rough isn’t extremely long, there may be times when even being off the fairway to allow for an easier approach could be a good game plan.

3. Use club selection to build confidence

Building confidence and momentum as you play is an important part of your game plan and can often be accomplished with smart club selection. Choosing clubs that you are confident in and that are reasonably easy to hit, rather than ones that you think you should hit based on distance, is something that higher handicaps can benefit a lot from. An example of this would be if the only way to the green required you to hit your longest fairway wood perfectly. In this scenario, it may make more sense to choose a more maneuverable club, such as a center iron. Hit a good solid shot, finish just short of the green, but build confidence and momentum in the process.

4. Manage your expectations

Often the right attitude can make a big difference, especially on a tough long par 4. Rather than feeling the need to press to match the long distance of the hole, it can put things into perspective to play the hole like a short par 5 in your head. If you could get your golf ball around the green as comfortably as possible and then attempt to hit a good short game shot to give yourself a chance to convert a putt into a par up and down, that often removes the auto unproductive. – induced pressure.

5. Put the ball in play

Manage your game and the course, especially on the par 4s, because there isn’t much time to recover from a big mistake. There are often hazards or places that you simply need to avoid, even if it takes you a bit off the direct course to the green.

Out of bounds will almost always fall into these categories. My son was in a qualifying for his school team and he didn’t hit his driver well. He didn’t hit a lot of fairways, but he did a great job of staying clear of danger and playing away from the OB. Although he wasn’t enthusiastic about his golf, I thought it was great because he had greatly improved his ability to keep his ball in play and avoid out of bounds areas.

6. Be more aggressive with shorter clubs (or your favorite clubs)

There are times when you should go for the pin and times when you should just play it safe for the center of the green or the cleaner opening of the green. We all have clubs in our bag that we really like and shorter irons are generally easier to hit solid and land them and hold the green. When you have one of these opportunities, that’s when you should consider being more aggressive with your aim at the target. If you have an approach on your par 4 with a shorter club or your favorite club, this is when you should consider being more aggressive with where you are aiming. Always make sure there is a win on your bet.

7. Consider the simplest chip

When you have a longer club on the green, or aren’t hitting the ball particularly well, those are the days when a little more advanced planning can help convert more highs and lows.

Plan to leave you on the side of the green where you have the most green to work with between the edge of the green and the pin to allow you to possibly choose a lower maintenance putt or chip, rather than having to hit a lofted high pitch or lob shot. By allowing room for roll with your short game stroke, you can stick to simpler swings that are more reliable. If you make a mistake, it rarely turns into a big mistake of a high score.

8. Practice lag putting

Due to the varying lengths and shapes of par 4s, it often happens that you have a very long club in the green, like a fairway wood. This can lead to very long putts. Being good at controlling your distance and ball roll with your stroke size and getting that first putt really close to the pin becomes really important. My college coach used to say, “Most double bogeys end in a three-putt,” and unfortunately he was often right. Work on your distance control by simply varying the length of your backstroke for different distances. Try to add an inch to your backstroke for every three feet of length. This will lead to rolling your first putt closer and hitting easily without stress.

9. Use the land

Course designers will often angle the green to allow you to roll the ball around a hazard and if you have the local knowledge to do so it can help manage the risk of facing the hazard. An example of this would be if you have a large bunker protecting the left side of the green and the green slopes a bit from right to left, you could play for the right side of the green, taking the bunker out of play, and let the pitch roll the ball towards the pin. I’m a GolfLogix Ambassador (an affiliate of GOLF.com), and this is an app I use that really helps me.

10. Work on your bunker setup

Managing bunker play is a very important part of par 4 management, whether the bunker is greenside or in the fairway. One of the most fundamental points of setup adjustment for success with both is proper ball position.

When you’re in a fairway bunker you want to hit the ball first, so your ball stance needs to be more neutral or centered, just as if you were playing the ball for a shot from the grass.

In a greenside bunker you want to play your ball further forward in your stance and this will help you hit the sand before the ball.

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