Riviera Country Club's 10th hole: Go for the green or lay up?
PGA Tour

Riviera Country Club’s 10th hole: Go for the green or lay up?

The 10th hole at Riviera from above

Rivera Country Club's short par-4 10th hole is one of the most architecturally intriguing, fascinating holes in all of golf. At just over 300 yards on the card, the decision is pretty clear for a PGA Tour player: try to drive the green or lay up?

On its face, it might seem like a player would lean toward laying up. There's plenty of room short and left of the green, leaving a pretty standard pitch shot to a green that orients toward the shot. Easy, right? Well, the data proves otherwise.

Looking at the data from 2006-15, the contrast is incredibly stark. There is a 459-shot difference between the scores of the players who try to drive the green, risking finding tricky bunkers and tight lies around the green, and those who try to lay up safely short of the green. The players who went for the green in that stretch were 332 under par. The players who laid up? They were 127 over par.

That's because the 10th green is small and tough to hold, even with a wedge in hand. Over the last 10 seasons, the green in regulation percentage from inside 75 yards on the 10th hole is just 62.7 percent, making it toughest green to hit in regulation from within this distance on the PGA Tour. If hitting the second shot with a wedge from the fairway isn't going to make it drastically easier, there's not much benefit to pulling anything out of the bag off the tee other than the club that will get you as close as you can get to the green.

The answer is crystal clear: Go for the green!

Even if the decision to go for the green on the 10th hole is clear, it's still a relatively easy hole. Playing to a stroke average of 3.93, it's the second-toughest par 4 under 350 yards on the PGA Tour. However, in 2023, it also had the 151st-lowest stroke average, putting it in the bottom 20 percent of holes in terms of difficulty. Players should expect to make birdie on this hole, but there are plenty of ways to make bogey or worse.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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