Smart Golf 101: Guarded Par 4 with Water at 90 yards

We all know this type of short par 4. The one where you’re trying to decided wether you should hit an iron or a driver off the tee, then questioning where to aim on the green. Here’s the nitty gritty on this smart golf post:

Par 4 – Water at 90 yards from the green. Tighter landing area, and well guarded green with 4 bunkers. For this hole, wind is not a factor, nor is elevation change.
Tips: 380 yards
White Tees: 365 yards
Forward Tees: 345 yards

Alright, so we’ve set out three different scenarios on this diagram based on your skill level (and tee-boxes of choice). But here’s some of the questions you should be asking yourself as you’re on the tee analyzing how best to play this whole.

  • What’s the easiest way to get the ball on the green?
  • Is this hole going to give up very many birdies?
  • Is there any benefit of driving over the water?How often would I be able to accomplish that?
  • If I’m in the rough, will I still be able to hit the green? – How far is too far on the fairway?
  • Will I be able to hold the green if I’m too cautious off the tee?[/box]

Okay, once we’ve asked ourselves some of these questions, it should be relatively easy to figure out the following answers:

  • The widest part of the green is to the right of the flag.
  • Hitting over the water would leave you with a tough pitch to a guarded pin, and the hole shape will likely leave you short sided.
  • There are some trees in the landing area, the fairway is by far the best place for your tee shot.
  • Ideally I would want 150 yards or less in to the green, as I do not have much green to work with.
  • Both the right and left side of the fairway have more room then the center before the creek.[/box]

Smart Golf 101

Based on all this, here’s how I would suggest playing this hole based on your handicap and skill level to maximize your chances of making a good number, and reducing your chances of a high one.


If you’re in this category, your main goal here should be to keep the ball in play and away from the water, and sand traps. The best course of action is likely a 3-wood off the tee, which should leave you plenty of room short of the water, and more or less avoid the trees further up.  Your next shot should be towards the bail out area short of the green. This will give you plenty of room after the water, and allow your next short chip shot to avoid the bunkers, with plenty of green to work from. Chip up, two putt, take your bogey, and run to the next hole.


Your tee box gives you one of the best angles for this hole, but try not to get too greedy, likely a long iron is all you need, a driver will likely get you in trouble, and not benefit your approach to the green. Be careful about going to far left here, with the mid-left pin placement. Try to hit the ball between the 150 and 100 yard marker to give you the best chance at hitting the green in two. When hitting your approach, it’s likely best to aim for the fat part of the green, and let your putter bail you out. With so many bunkers in play, it’s best to simply take your medicine and look for easier birdies elsewhere.


Based on the pin placement, your ideal tee-shot is one that huge the right hand side of the fair.  This short par 4 is a tough one though.  Though you may have considered hitting your driver over the water, there really is no benefit once you get up to the green.  You’d be better off hitting a full wedge to this tucked pin and have a guaranteed par, but a good look at birdie. Hit a long iron to the right hand side of the fair, and hit your approach to the green, from this angle the pin is a little more accessible but be careful of the bunkers on the left – if you get too greedy you may end up paying for it by short-siding yourself. Your bail out is to the right. Par is a good number here.

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