Smart Golf 101: Long Dogleg Left Par 4 With Water Right

Next up in this series, is a long par 4 with water in play off the tee. This particular hole design is very tricky as the hole dog legs left, and their is water in play on the right. In addition you have bunkers in play off the tee and up near the green… not to mention the tightness of the green to the trees behind it. This whole is going to be a tough one, and there are lots of things to consider on each shot.

This hole is 460 yards from the tips, 430 from the whites, and 410 from the forward tees. For the purpose of this post, the wind and elevation change is not a factor.

The questions that should be asked from the tee on this hole are:

  • How far to the water from the tee? How about the bunkers?
  • Can I make the green if I stay short of the bunkers?
  • Is the risk of trying to hit a draw/fade around the dogleg worth it?

Based on all this here’s how I’d suggest playing this hole, which could easily be the #1 handicap hole on many courses out there. depending on your skill level.

This is a hard hole, it may be best to take your lumps and play it safe from tee to green… and if you’re lucky, you can have a putt for a par. You likely cannot hit your driver far enough to really get in much trouble here, but you should try to steer clear of the bunker to the left off the tee. The right bunkers shouldn’t be in play, but if you are too far right you have a tough second that likely has treed and water to content with. You want to be in the middle of the fairway, so hit a club that makes this happen. Your second shot is still likely to be 200+ so rather than trying to be a hero and worrying about either the bunkers guarding the green, or the trees long, it’s likely best to play a shot that give you an easy pitch and putt chance at par. Walking away with a two putt bogey here won’t hurt you one bit. This strategy will drastically reduce your margin for error, and keep high scores to a minimum.

Well, with a little better game under your belt, this hole is still very tricky to play well. The best approach off the tee, is similar to that of the beginner golfer, but simply just relying on your long game into the green. Aiming for the middle of the fairway and being careful not hit it too far is the best plan on this par 4. There’s a relatively straightforward route to the green on your second, so 180 or so left to the green is not bad. You can run a ball up the front of the green, and an mis-hits should give you a relatively easy up and down, and bogey is the worse you can make. By taking the water and bunkers out of play off the tee you quickly avoid high scores. Leave the driver in the bag, hit a 3 wood or 3 iron if you can about 230 yards, and swing big into the green.

Ideally it’s still best to keep the water our of play here off the tee, but if you are confident in your ability to shape the ball you may want to try to draw the ball with your driver into the fairway, these will leave you with a short iron into the green, and a reasonable chance for birdie considering the pin placement. You can also hit one up the middle about 250 with no issues, or even aim slightly right for the best angle into the green – just be careful not to hit it too far or too far right, or you’ll be faced with a tough second around trees and over the water. The small greenside bunker shouldn’t be in play from the fairway and the pin placement.

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