Straight Beats Distance in Recreational Golf

Terry Kohler, who writes for GolfWRX, wrote recently about how good touring pros are, or rather are not, when they have to play their tee ball out of the rough.

It seems, when we watch them play on television, that it doesn’t matter where the ball ends up. They still get on the green and make their par and even some birdies.

One thing you always want to remember is that the players we see on TV are the ones who are playing really well that week. So of course they will tend to play well out of the rough.

But they aren’t as good from the rough as you think they are. The fairway matters.

This chart, suggested by Kohler’s column shows how far the ball is left from the pin, on average, from the fairway, and from the rough, for a given distance.

Notice, as Kohler points out in his article, that guys get it closer from 150-175 yards from the fairway than they do from 75-100 yards from the rough.

What does that tell you about your game, when you are not as strong as they are, not as athletic as they are, and not as talented as they are? Hmmm?

If you said the recreational game depends on getting your tee ball in the fairway, you win the prize.

Now I don’t mean to pull back so much that you handicap yourself, but that on some holes you can let it out with your driver and on other holes you need to leave it in the bag.

Or, if you can drive 260 and miss a few fairways that is much better than hitting 230 and not missing any. But then…

Colin Montgomery said on a Playing Lessons With the Pros show (when he was standing in the fairway), “People say I was a good iron player. … The only reason I was a good iron player was because I’m hitting them from this, and not from that. No one’s a good iron player from there. Nobody. The only good iron players are the ones who hit it from here.”

If hitting the fairway off the tee is not your honest expectation, it’s time to re-think your tee game.

Hitting straight in your approach game is even more important, but that’s another post.

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