What Does Lay Up Mean In Golf?

Golf is a sport for all ages and experience levels. Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced pro, understanding the concept of a lay-up can make all the difference to your game. So, what does lay up mean in golf?

What Does Lay Up Mean In Golf

What Is A Layup In Golf?

Simply put, a lay up is when you take a shorter shot than you might in a given situation. This can be done on any hole, but for most golfers, it’s most common on par 5s or long par 4s. The idea behind it is that you are reducing the chances of putting yourself in an awkward position like a bunker or behind a tree. Generally, players will try to leave their ideal wedge distance for their next shot in an effort to get the ball close and hole their first putt.

When Should You Lay Up?

It all depends on how far away the green is, your skill level and risk factor tolerance. If there are many bunkers around the green or a water hazard then trying to reach with a fairway wood might not be the best option. Assuming you are confident with your short irons then a medium iron to around 100 yards short of the green followed by a wedge approach is often a better idea.

Should You Lay Up On Par 5s?

Sometimes! It all comes down to the level of risk vs reward. Reaching a par 5 in two shots is great if you manage to leave your ball on the green but if you stick it in a bunker or in the trees then you may end up dropping shots instead of gaining them.

You have to understand your game. Are you good at bunker shots or fiddly greenside chips? If you are then it’s probably worth the risk. Players who hit their wedges close might be better off playing to that strength instead. Zach Johnson famously won a Masters green jacket by laying up on the par-5s since he is one of the shorter hitters on the PGA Tour.

The Data Says Go For It!

Modern statistics have shown that for professionals it usually pays to go for it more often than not. Even at this level though there are many players who will still decide to rely on their wedge game than risk a long approach with loads of greenside hazards.

Elite golfers are usually masters of course management and will always try to work out the best place to miss if they don’t pull a shot off.

Faldo v Strange 1995 Ryder Cup

Famous Lay Ups

One of the most memorable layups for me was when Nick Faldo was playing Curtis Strange in the Ryder Cup singles in 1995 at Oak Hill. He’d managed to get back on level terms with Curtis Strange by the 18th tee. Faldo didn’t hit a particularly good tee shot and he decided to lay up to his favorite wedge distance. He then knocked his wedge close and made his par. With Strange making a bogey after driving it in the fairway it meant a big turnaround in that game for Faldo and meant Europe would retain the Ryder Cup.

Play To Your Strengths

Famous YouTuber Mark Crossfield says that while getting the ball as close to the hole as possible will inevitably see you with a better strokes gained figure you have to allow for the state of your game in general and how you are playing on the day.

Don’t just assume because the data says so you should blast driver everywhere. Consider the shot you face and the risks. How well are you swinging on the day?

To illustrate how this advice applies let’s look at examples of a par 5 and a par 4 layup respectively…

How To Layup On A Par 5

Example 1: A Par 5 Layup – You’ve hit your drive down nearly 250 yards leaving yourself with around 220 yards into an undulating green guarded by trees left and right with no room for error between them both plus several deep bunkers – so do you go for it? If you are comfortable with your 3-wood and don’t struggle with bunker shots then I would say that you have a green light.

If you aren’t confident with your 3-wood and/or out of sandtraps a medium iron and wedge might yield a better result.

How To Layup On A Par 4

Example 2: A Par 4 Layup – You’ve pushed your drive slightly right but still managed around 230 yard carry leaving yourself 200 yards away from pin which has water running along its left-hand side but you are in the rough. Don’t go crazy here – play safe and smart opting instead for a wedge leaving yourself somewhere between 90-100 yards away giving plenty of room between water hazard and the pin allowing much greater chance of hitting the green and not ending up wet!

What Does Lay Up Mean In Golf: Conclusion

In conclusion, learning when and where to use a lay up can make all difference between being able to shoot respectable scores versus being over your handicap. Remember to play to your strengths rather than attempting risky shots which may only cause serious damage if they fail. Know your game!

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