Do you think that you have hit more fairways to shoot lower scores?
While it’s easy to think that fairways and lower scores are directly correlated, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson disagree. Between the two of the amazing golfers, they have 100+ wins on the PGA Tour. Funny enough, they both also have some of the worst driving accuracy stats on Tour. The reason these guys score so well is their amazing work around the greens and pure talent.
But needless to say, a very small percentage of amateur golfers can hit a small fraction of the amazing recovery shots like these two guys. So while they defy the odds, most golfers should focus on getting it in the short grass.
When you’re playing from the fairway, you almost always get a good lie, have a direct line for the green, and don’t have to worry about nasty, thick rough. When you’re chopping it out of the thick stuff all day, it’s really hard to score well. Most of the time you’re probably just scrambling to save par instead of giving a birdie putt a chance.
But I’m confident that once you’re done reading this post, you will learn how to hit more straight shots and hopefully shoot lower scores.
How To Hit More Fairways – 9 Best Tips
Before I teach you these strategies, let’s first take a look at a few common statistics. According to the PGA Tour, in 2019 the average tour player hit around 62% of fairways.
Here’s a breakdown of what amateurs average to help you compare according to this survey:
- 23 handicap = 21% (roughly 3/14)
- 15 handicap = 39% (roughly 5/14)
- 7 handicap = 61% (roughly 9/14)
- Scratch player = 70% (roughly 10/14)
How do you compare?
1. Track Your Stats
While of course, I’m sure you want to hit 14/14 in the short stuff, the chances of that happening are pretty low. As you can tell from the statistics above, anything over 60% is a great number to aim for.
If you want to find the short stuff more, I suggest first figuring out how many you currently find each round. After putting on 18, make a concerted effort to go back and track the each fairway you found. Not only that, make sure to notate if you find the fairway with a driver, fairway wood, hybrid or long iron as well.
This will give you a starting point. Just like anything you want to improve, the more you measure it, the more you can manage it. Log this into a Google doc, a note on your phone or a golf app if you use one. This makes it easy to monitor your progress.
2. Evaluate The Hole
If you want to find more fairways, it doesn’t mean you need to change your swing or get tons of expensive lessons. Instead, you probably need to take a look at your course strategy. Chances are, if you’re like most amateur golfers, you’re using the driver too often.
So before grabbing the big stick, make sure to create a tee box strategy. Ask yourself, what is the best spot to miss and the best spot to end up. If you notice the guys on Tour, they often times don’t take driver, even on par 5’s.
You always want to weigh the risk vs. reward before your grab driver and tee off. If hitting driver on a short part 4 only brings in more trouble and isn’t worth it, don’t do it. Even if all your friends are grabbing the big stick, choose your own path.
Remember, the goal is to end up in more fairways so you can have easier approach shots, and give yourself more birdie putts. The goal isn’t to outdrive everyone, the goal is to beat everyone and take their money!
3. Pick Two Targets
Once you’ve chosen the correct weapon of choice for the tee shot, the next thing you need to do is confirm where you want it to end up. Don’t just pick one area in the distance either. Instead, you need two targets. Here’s what I mean..
Let’s say that you want to smash your tee ball down the left side of the fairway. Instead of being vague and thinking “Left side of the fairway,” instead you want to get specific for your mind.
For example, find a power line, dry spot, tree or something else in the distance as an aim point. This is where you want to focus your eyes on once you’re standing over the ball.
But before addressing the ball, you want to find an intermediary target as well. Once you find your long-distance spot, track the line back to your ball. Then, try to find a spot of grass or broken one to two feet ahead of your ball to aim your clubhead too. This ensures that the clubface is square at address as it’s hard to line up to something 200+ yards away.
4. Use Visualization
The final part of your pre-shot routine is using visualization to imagine the perfect tee ball before you swing the club. You want to imagine the ball taking off right at the intended destination and think about the ball landing where you want.
This is the exact opposite of what most golfers’ do.
Instead, most golfers are saying and thinking things like “Don’t hit it in the water” or “Avoid that fairway bunker.” And more often than not, that’s exactly where the ball ends up because that is where their attention is at address.
Set yourself up for success by getting super clear about where you want the ball to end up. This is a vital part of finding more fairways.
5. Practice With Fairway Woods & Driver
While a good strategy and pre-shot routine are important, you still need to have a reliable swing to find the short grass. To find more fairways, make sure that you are spending your time on the practice tee correctly.
I like to think about the driving range differently than most golfers. When you have time to practice, you choose whether it’s a productive practice or an unproductive practice.
Unfortunately, most golfers practice very unproductively. These sessions usually include:
- Large bucket
- Not taking any breaks
- Not using alignment sticks
- Only hitting drivers as hard as possible
- Hitting a large bucket of balls without any aim point
- Getting frustrated, even though they don’t have any specific goal
I’m sure you’ve seen this at your driving range and maybe even been guilty of this as well. But if you want to avoid the rough off the tee, you need to spend your practicing with a specific purpose. Here’s how you can do it:
Hit the Right Clubs
The majority of your practice should consist of hitting fairway woods, wedges and driver. These are the clubs that will have a direct impact on lowering your scores.
Don’t waste your practice sessions hitting 7-irons all day. Chances are, you won’t hit it more than once or twice per round. Instead, practice like the pros and I bet you’ll see huge improvements in your golf game.
Pick a Spot
Another important piece of practice is clearly identify your aim point. If you’re working on shots off the tee, I suggest creating a “fairway” by finding two posts or trees in the distance. This will help you stay focused and get used to picking a spot so it’s more familiar on the course.
Use Alignment Sticks
Alignment sticks are wildly helpful in making sure you’re setup correctly at address. Oftentimes, I see so many players get frustrated at the range when in fact, they’re hitting it dead straight. But if you don’t know where you’re lined up, it’s easy to make that mistake.
Use Your Pre-Shot Routine
Finally, during your practice sessions, dedicate at least 10-15 balls to go through your entire pre-shot routine. This will help you get familiar with the process and make it feel effortless when you’re on the course.
6. Find Your “Go-To” Shot
If you watch scratch golfers that consistently find 60% or more of fairways each round, it’s pretty common to see a “go-to” shot. Whether it’s a five-yard cut, a high draw or a relatively straight ball. They might even have a specific club like a 3-wood or driving iron.
While most players who shoot in the 70s can work it both ways, most choose one shot off the tee. So if you’re struggling to find fairways, I suggest finding your go-to shot. This way you can confidently pick a target and depend on your cut or draw off the tee. Your confidence will soar once you discover yours!
7. Master Your Tempo
Another expert tip is to master your tempo. Your tempo plays a huge role in regards to your overall ball striking. If you’re constantly in the rough and want to find more fairways, check your tempo.
A lot of amateur golfers take it back too quick or rush the transition. This makes it super easy to spray it off the tee, especially with the driver or if you’re playing in the wind.
Instead, focus on a smooth takeaway and maximum acceleration at impact. Not only will you hit it straighter but it will probably go farther as well.
Read the full post on tempo here.
8. Use a Launch Monitor
Another great tip to help your ball-striking is to use a launch monitor so you can understand your swing better. While I don’t recommend launch monitors to a beginning golfer, it can definitely help you improve your game as you get more advanced.
The better you know your game, the more the more confidence you will have in your swing and go-to shot. The more you can practice your golf game and really understand it, the more confidence you will have. More confidence seems to directly correlate to hitting it down the middle more often.
Not to mention, there are so many great launch monitors available so you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars as you did a decade ago. Check out the best launch monitors here to find the right one for your golf game and budget.
9. Ride the Wind
The final tip to help your accuracy is to evaluate the wind. When you’re on the tee box creating your strategy, make sure to double check which direction it’s blowing.
Too many golfers try to hit against the wind instead of playing with on their drives. For example, if it’s a gusty, left to right wind, don’t try to play a big draw unless you’re a skilled golfer. Usually, it’s better to ride the wind so aim accordingly. This will help you stripe it down the middle and avoid big misses that can cost you important strokes.
As you can probably tell, hitting your golf ball in the middle more often isn’t just about improving your swing. A lot of it has to do with the right course strategy, intentional practice, and finding your go-to shot.
Remember, each hole is different so don’t try to force driver if you don’t like the risk or the hole doesn’t set up for your game. Plan accordingly!
I’m confident if you these tips, you will hit it straighter and find the game a lot simpler than before. Remember, don’t feel like you always have to swing driver or even 3-wood if you don’t want. Instead, play the one that you’re confident about on the tee and imagine where you want the shot to end up.
As you become more advanced, make sure that you keep tracking your stats and adapting your strategies. You got this!