Looks Easy, Plays Hard
Don’t let a short par 4 ruin your day
hen a hole lacks distance, you can bet there’s something else that makes up for it—like a brutal green. The 315-yard 10th at Riviera Country Club ( is a perfect example. It might be the toughest drivable par 4 in the world, with a very narrow green that tilts severely to the left. If you miss it right, you can’t hold a pitch shot on the surface. Most pros try to drive the green during the Genesis Open—Dustin Johnson is going for it here with a fairway wood— but because of that green, it seems we see as many bogeys as birdies.
When you face a short par 4, you have a choice between trying to drive the ball as close to the green as possible or laying back with a more conservative shot. If you have the length to get near the green, driver might be the play. But before you swing away, consider the shots you might leave yourself, given the shape and slope of the green. You might decide you’re better off coming in from 70 or 80 yards than trying to pull off a miracle lob or bunker shot.
If you opt to lay up from the tee, don’t just slap the ball out there with your driver. Pick a club that you can make a good, solid swing with, and set up your favourite wedge yardage in the fairway. Do that, and you’ll probably make the drive the second shot a lot easier.
Last thought: If you have a short par 4 on your course, next time you’re standing on the green, look back and play the hole in your mind. From this perspective, you’ll see the shots and angles that make the hole easier.
Remember this analysis the next time you step up to that hole.