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Golf IQ

5 keys to not screwing up one of the easiest shots in golf

November 29, 2023

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Even though there is something of a bad stigma in doing it, there are certain times when laying up is the best—and only—option for amateur golfers. Like when there's a hazard that you have no chance of carrying, or need some medicine-taking after a wayward drive. Maybe it's just a simple position play on a long hole.

Which is why it's so frustrating when you try to do the smart, mature, safe thing and hit a layup shot, and then screw it up. So, that's the topic we tackled in our most recent Golf IQ podcast, which you can listen to below (and subscribe to right here).

How to not screw up a layup shot

1. Commit, commit, commit

A layup is an inherently defensive shot, and one that obviously travels shorter. But that mindset can often lead to botching the shot itself. Pick a small target, and focus on it intently. Commit to hitting a great shot, even if it's not going to end near the pin.

2. Think of it like a big bump-and-run

One common mistake I often make during layups is swinging too hard. It really helps me to think of layup shots as big bump-and-runs. It's going to spend a little time in the air, and more time on the ground. I'm not trying to smash bump-and-run. I'm trying to hit it a specific distance.

3. Find your height 'window'

Too high can make for disastrous layup shots. Especially if you're navigating around a hole with trees, or lots of wind. Before you decide which club you're going to use to lay up, think about what height window you want your ball to fly through. It will make that task a lot easier.

(Side note: Collin Morikawa has some interesting insight into how he thinks about windows right here)


Ryan Lochhead/PGA of America

4. Know your key three yardages

When you're hitting your layup shot, you want to calculate three yardages:

  • What distance do you want to the flag after laying up?
  • What distance will it take to get there?
  • What is the maximum distance you can hit it without getting into trouble?

That last one is important. You don't want a layup rolling through the fairway, or into the water. Any club you pick needs to fit all of those of those boxes.

5. Don't get greedy

Pretty self-explanatory. This is a layup shot. Don't be a hero, because you can't be on this shot.

You can listen to the full episode, or hear more Golf IQ podcasts, right here.