This simple chart will tell you whether you should lay up or go for it

When he’s not teaching economics classes at Columbia University or gracing the pages of GOLF Magazine, Mark Broadie is using advanced analytics to make golfers everywhere — from the tour to recreational players — smarter. Last week, Broadie brought some of his fantastic insight to the GOLF Top 100 Teachers Summit, a bi-annual think tank-style conference hosted by GOLF Magazine and He crunched the numbers on a variety of different things, among them: The eternal question of when to go for it, or when to lay up.

Broadie sketched out a scenario that golfers find themselves in all the time: A green with water short and a few bunkers on either side. To find his answer, he analyzed carry distance shot patters for golfers with a wide range of different skill levels, from 100s shooters to tour players, and created this handy chart that tells you when you should hit the hero shot.

Here are the results for what would result in the lowest average score, and as you can see, they’re quite interesting. Golfers play 180 yard par 3s with water all the time, but as Broadie pointed out during his presentation, how many 90s shooters would actually lay up on a 180 yard par 3? But according to the numbers, they should…

Of course, while the chart above can act as a good baseline, there are other variations based on certain on course situations.

Let’s say, for instance, you need to make a par on the hole in front of you, perhaps to tie your match, and aren’t really worried about making a big number, that requires a slightly more aggressive strategy that alters things…

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