Hitting More Fairways
Though I'm all about short range performance as the key to scoring, there is no question that you will shoot lower scores if most of your approach shots are played from the fairway. But most golfers begin each hole with a drive that is somewhere marginally in play. Hitting good iron shots from the taller grass in the rough is difficult enough, but when you add in the fact that you are probably are behind a tree, or in a bunker, or even out of bounds, wayward drives are costing you significantly.

Of course, my assumption is that shooting lower scores is what this game is all about. If you are reasonably content to just go out and slash away, counting them up and not caring what the end score total might be, then you can stop reading now.

I have often contended that a golfer of any skill level will shoot lower scores by trading a few yards of distance off the tee for improved accuracy. There are a number of ways to prove this to yourself, but the easiest is to go out for a "learning nine" some afternoon late and do this: On each hole where your drive misses the fairway, pick up the ball and move it over to that half of the fairway and 15 yards back. Then play out the hole. See what your score does for that nine. To compare the relative benefit of distance over accuracy, then play another nine and advance each drive you hit 15 yards further . . . but on the same line it was on when it stopped. NOT toward the green, mind you, but on the line the ball was traveling from the tee.

Once you have done these two experiments, I feel pretty confident that you will see that lower scores come from fairways, not yards.

So, to hit more fairways, here are my top four changes to make to your driving game:
  1. Grip down on your driver to "play it" at about 43" in length. That means gripping down 2-3" on modern drivers. Sergio Garcia plays his driver at 43" because he says it gives him more control. Hmmmmmm.

  2. Throttle back. I watch most golfers swing from their heels with their driver. Instead, try swinging your driver with the thought of the same power you'd apply to a smooth little 7–iron shot.

  3. Analyze the hole. Every architect will design in a fat part of the fairway, usually a little short of where he thought the big hitters would go. Gives the average player a bigger target. Look at each hole, even on your home course, and figure out where the architect was giving you the most room.

  4. Aim small, miss small. Instead of just looking down the fairway somewhere, pick out a very specific target for your drive — a tree, corner of a bunker, a house in the distance...something that will get you very focused on hitting your drive to a specific target, not just "out there".
Put these ideas into play your next round and see if your fairways hit statistic doesn't improve measurably.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
ally1957 says:
Tried something similar no club longer than a 5 iron (150yd ish) just getting used to hitting straight shots and it works. depending on the length of the course
knocked between 5 and 10 shots off my score
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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