How much water should you *really* bite off on a par-5? Follow these 4 tips

There are plenty of risk-reward par 5s on the PGA Tour, but none looks quite like the boomerang, the 555-yard 6th at Bay Hill, Fla.

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There are plenty of risk-reward par 5s on the PGA Tour, but none looks quite like the boomerang 555-yard 6th at Bay Hill, Fla., host of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. This mega-Cape hole creates quite the dilemma for players off the tee: Pull off an aggressive drive and you have just an iron approach, but fail to clear the water and you’re re-teeing, hitting 3. So how should you best manage a high-risk tee shot? 

1. Play the correct set of tees 

The risk-reward element of a tee shot like this only works if you’re playing the course from the correct length. Cameron Champ hit a 9-iron into this green in 2020, but that’s because his tee shot flew 356 yards. If you’re not a Tour superhero, feel free to move up a box. Or two. 

2. Know your carry

Plenty of golfers say they “hit it 250” off the tee — but that doesn’t mean those same golfers can take on a 250-yard carry over water. A hole like this one is the perfect reminder to learn your yardages. How far do you really carry driver? Give yourself room for error and pick a line accordingly. 

3. Check your through line 

Yes, carrying the water should be your main concern. But that doesn’t mean you can completely ignore the far side of the fairway, where bunkers, rough and worse are lurking. Plan a proper yardage. If you make solid contact and hit it where you’re aiming, you should be rewarded — not punished by scampering through the fairway. 

4. Play the game you’ve got

If you’re a righty, the ideal tee shot here is a draw, which starts away from the water and runs closer to the hole when it lands. But if you always hit a fade, don’t suddenly switch things up now. Instead, focus on going through your routine, getting your fundamentals in order and making solid contact. That will help encourage your ball to land on solid ground. 

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1. Dry line

It may take three or four shots to get home, but you’re avoiding forced carry. 

2. Sensible line

You’re taking on some water; be sure you’ve got the distance. 

3. Hero line

If you’re Rory McIlroy, you can take on this 300-yard carry and leave less than 200 yards in. 

4. Bryson line 

As the crow flies, No. 6 is only about 330 yards. You game?

dylan dethier

Dylan Dethier Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/ The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a 2014 graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.