Golf tip: Mastering the art of the layup shot

While we don't pay top dollar to attend a Tour event or park ourselves in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon to watch our favorite PGA and LPGA Tour stars layup, it is an essential part of the game.

When done correctly, it can improve your scoring opportunities and keep those pesky big numbers off your score card.

Have a plan

What are you trying to accomplish with the layup? Are you trying to avoid a water hazard or bunker? Do the trees cause the fairway to narrow, making a longer club a difficult option off the tee or for that second shot? Devise a plan to avoid these obstacles. The purpose of the layup shot is to set yourself up for success with your next shot and avoid trouble that lies ahead.

We all have strengths and weaknesses as well as a favorite club or favorite yardage that we like to hit our shots. Why not play to that strength?

Let's say you struggle hitting 90-yard wedges. Yet every time you are given the opportunity to layup, you seem to find yourself 90 yards from the green, playing right into your weakness. On the flip side, you are confident hitting a full 9 iron from 120 yards. It is your favorite club, you have confidence in the shot, and your success rate skyrockets from this distance. When forming your plan, play to your strength. Select a club for your layup shot that will get you to a yardage/club that presents a higher rate of success.

How to execute

Flip on a telecast and you will hear commentators drooling over Tigers Woods' "stinger" shots off the tee on difficult driving holes. Why does Tiger hit these "stingers?" If you have been fortunate to attend a PGA or LPGA Tour event, you know how high these tour stars hit the ball off the tee. With those majestic tee shots the opportunity for wild drives exists.

Don't get me wrong, I am still a proponent of "tee it high and watch it fly!" But the higher that ball flies, the more it is exposed to the elements, the more spin we can place on the ball, and the more that can go wrong. Historically, when Tiger needs to hit the fairway the most, he gravitates toward that patented "stinger."

He takes the flight out of the shot, favoring a lower ball flight to prevent the ball from getting off line. To execute the layup, I recommend that you experiment with taking the flight out of the shot. Favor a lower shot to keep the ball in play, prevent the wild miss, and position yourself perfectly for the next shot. Follow these tips and put the "stinger" into your game:

• Use a lower lofted iron - a 3 iron to 5 iron will work best;

• Narrow your stance;

• At address, place the ball by your back foot, and the weight by your front foot; and

• Focus on keeping the weight on your front foot throughout the swing.

Early on, it will be beneficial to practice this shot on the driving range and focus on making shorter swings. As your success rate improves, begin to lengthen the swing, keeping the points above at the forefront of your thought process.

Remember, lower scores are the goal. Implement a plan to avoid the trouble that lies ahead, play to your strengths, and execute. I wish you all the best on your path to lower scores!

• Steve Gillie is the head PGA Professional at Randall Oaks Golf Club in West Dundee. He teaches lessons and was 2017 Illinois PGA Merchandiser of the Year for public courses. Contact him at

For more from the Illinois PGA, visit

•Editor's note: With assistance from the Illinois PGA, the Daily Herald provides golf tips each Wednesday from a PGA Professional.

How a little rope work can unwrap your best swing

How to get a feel for your putting stroke

Golf pro tip: How to be more consistent

Golf pro tip: For longer drives, tee it high and focus on a smoother swing

How understanding smash factor can help your short game

Golf tip: How to fix the dreaded slice

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.