If you’ve played this game long enough, or have even been paired up with some avid golfers, you have definitely heard the phrase, “Drive for show, Putt for dough.’ Well, whether if you have heard it or not, it’s really not that true. Yes, of course, putting does get the ball in the hole, however, if you are not in the fairway, setting up your approach shot properly, odds are you’ll be putting for par or bogey more times than you’d like.
In fact, while watching a PGA Tour event recently, they were reading statistics that players in the rough averaged almost half a stroke higher on a given hole, than players who were hitting the fairways. That’s equivalent to almost 9 shots a round!
I’m almost sure you’ve heard the phrase, “250 in the fairway is better than 300 in the rough.” This phrase definitely holds more truth than the previous one.
The importance of tee shots being in good position to set up an approach is extremely important, and here’s a great example:
This week, during the Shell Houston Open, I watched Player A, on a 368 yard hole, pull his hybrid out, knock it down the fairway, while his playing partner, Player B, who was known as a long hitter, pulled out driver and hit it about 40 yards from the green… in the right rough (and the rough wasn’t too penal). Player A knocked his approach on the green 20 feet below a back-right hole location, while Player B had a delicate shot to a flag with a big slope carrying golf balls away from the hole about 10 feet behind it. Player B actually hit a great shot, but because he was in the rough (lie was not bad at all), he was unable to spin the ball enough to get it to stop on the green, and subsequently the ball found the slope and rolled about 30 yards over the green.
Here are a few suggestions on driving the ball:
- You don’t have to always pull out the driver. If there is trouble you can reach, such as a fairway bunker or trees through the fairway on a dogleg, take out a shorter club.
- There are a couple of reasons:
- If you’re aware of the trouble, and know there’s a possibility of reaching it, you will subconsciously end up steering the ball off the tee, causing a mishit, or ending up in the trouble after all.
- When you have a club in your hand that you know won’t put you into trouble, you will make a better, more aggressive swing, causing better contact and ultimately putting yourself in better position to play the hole.
- Keep your stats!
- Unsure of how many fairways and greens your hitting? Keep track of that on your scorecard. “But Mike, we use the scorecard for our foursome, there won’t be enough room.” I have an idea, grab your own scorecard for this purpose.
- Mark it like this:
You could even write down an R or L (Right or Left) on your missed fairways to keep track of where your misses are and to give you an idea of what you need to work on while you practice (Tip: you can do this for Greens in Regulation, too).
- Keep a consistent routine and a consistent swing thought process.
- Consistency in your golf game doesn’t come from hitting thousands of golf balls. Consistency comes from hitting golf balls THINKING about the same thing. During your next round, I challenge you to think about one thing that works for you, WITHOUT ABANDONING IT because of a couple bad shots.
- If you’re not sure what to think about, here’s a few that might work and I encourage you to try on the range:
- Keep an even tempo.
- Make a full swing and hold your finish until the ball lands.
- Don’t try to kill the ball; make a smooth, accelerating swing THROUGH the ball, not AT the ball (try to feel like the fastest part of the golf swing is just after impact).
- Feel like you’re only trying to hit the ball half as far as you normally do. This will encourage better contact and you’ll find the ball goes just as far.
- Loose arms and grip (AS LOOSE AS POSSIBLE), stable lower body (feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart), and use your upper body (shoulders and torso) as much as possible to swing the club.
Utilize these tips, and you should be finding the fairway more often, hitting more greens, and lowering those scores.
P.S. A little short game and putting practice never hurt anyone either, don’t neglect that part of the game as a result of this article.
Michael Midgette, PGA
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