We’ve all done it: Stepped up on the tee of a tantalizing, drivable par 4 (like the 4th hole at DeBell Golf Course in Burbank, California, shown above), pulled out the big dog and let ’er rip … with varying results. More often than not we miss the green or end up in a spot that the course’s designer dared us to take out of the equation. Maybe that’s water, or OB, or behind a buch of trees. Whatever. It ain’t good. Hello, double bogey. So, let’s back off for a second. On short par 4s I think the percentage shot is to leave the driver in the bag and hit a hybrid.
The only time to go with the driver would be if you have room to miss with no penalty shots (the aforementioned hazard and OB). If you do choose a driver on a short par 4 or a hole with a narrow fairway, try to hit a small fade. The ball lands softer than a draw which will help it stay in the fairway.
After taking careful aim at a specific target (Photo 1) I open the club face slightly to promote a fade without changing my grip or swing (Photo 2). I have always felt that it is easier to work the ball by changing my set up rather than altering my swing, especially under any pressure.
A very accurate shot is a 3/4 punch shot with a hybrid, great play on short par 4s or narrow fairways, works great in the wind too. (Photo 3) Play the ball back in the stance to promote a predictable low draw, a great “go to” shot (Photo 4).
Whether you hit a driver or hybrid, there are things that both shots require for successful results:
Always aim at a specific target!
- Never take a swing without aiming.
- Waggle to get a feel for the shot (Photo 5).
- Make sure to make a smooth, one-piece takeaway (Photos 6 and 7).
- A well-balanced finish really helps (Photo 8).
Follow these simple steps to turn that short par 4 into a true birdie opportunity, rather than a recipe for disasters. In fact, playing the per-centages on holes like this will pay dividends throughout your round.