FORE! Having a hard time hitting fairways out on the course?
In my opinion, this is one of the most frustrating parts of the game for new golfers. I’ve seen many of my students go up to the tee and not know what to do because they are thinking of “thousands” of different things in their head. There are just so many different variables when driving a golf ball that can cause the ball to fly in different directions. ( If you are struggling with the slice, check out my article here!) Fortunately, there is hope!
Here are my 13 simple tips you can use out on the course to hit more fairways
1. Drag the Club Back 2 Feet
When I was learning to play golf, my grandpa always used to tell me the takeaway was the most crucial part of the golf swing. It starts the whole swing and if you make a mistake at the start, it’s only going to complicate the rest of the swing! A majority of my beginning students start their takeaway too upright which causes a steep angle of attack during the downswing. A steep angle of attack with the driver can cause:
- Sky Shots
- Hitting behind the Ball
- Topped Shots
To avoid these faults, merely drag your driver on the ground 2 FEET before going up on your backswing. A low takeaway allows you not to break your wrists too early and promotes a shallow downswing at the ball.
2. Choke Up on the Club
Your driver is the longest club in your bag. The standard length is around 44 inches for men or 43 for women. Because of the length, it can be more difficult to hit the center of the club face which can cause inconstant shots off the tee. To compensate for this added length, we can choke up on the club grip to have better control of the club face at impact!
To do this:
- Slide your normal grip down the grip about an inch towards the golf shaft
- Keep your normal stance
Choking up will allow you to receive better contact off the tee and help increase your consistency!
3. Use a Fairway Wood
Using a 3 or 5 wood off the tee will help lower the spin you put on the golf ball compared to a driver. Because the driver is longer, it will generate a faster clubhead speed at the ball. This faster speed will generate more ball spin after you make contact. Ball spin can make your ball fly a lot further in different directions, and it’s best to have the lowest amount of spin possible for control. You will lose distance hitting a wood off the tee, but you will be much more consistent hitting the fairway. I don’t know about you but I’d rather be 20 yards shorter and in the fairway than 20 yards longer and in the trees!
4. Locate the Hazards
Using a scorecard or map of the course to locate the hazards on a hole will give you an idea of which areas to avoid before you tee off. This allows you to choose a club you feel most confident with so that you will avoid any trouble areas. Knowing the dangers before your swing will help prepare you mentally and also allow your mind to become more focused on hitting a specific landing area. The more concentrated you are, the better chance you will make good contact! If you want to know more about finding particular yardages out on the course, review my article here to help navigate around the course!
5. Pick a Target
If you ever watch golf on TV, you can sometimes hear caddies ask the Tour Pro where their target is before they tee off. Picking a target allows you to visualize your shot before you take it. It also helps you focus in on a small area which improves the body’s concentration. When shooting a gun, they tell you to aim small, miss small. The same concept applies when lining up your tee shot.
Lining up your shot tips:
- Point out a tree, house or landmark in the distance that’s in the direction you want the ball to go
- Line up your stance, so you are aimed at the spot you selected
- Visualize your shot going at your target
- Make sure that you follow through at the mark you chose
6. Observe the Tee Box
Many tee boxes are uneven and have upward and downward slopes. I see a lot of beginning golfers tee the ball up on an uneven surface and then wonder why the had poor contact with the ball. ALWAYS FIND A FLAT SURFACE TO TEE YOUR BALL! Don’t make this harder on yourself trying to hit on an uneven lie. It’s best to have consistency when teeing the ball up and by finding a flat surface, will give yourself a higher percentage to hit the golf ball solidly.
Bonus tip: If your golf ball is starting off to the right of your target (right-handed golfers), try pressing the tee slightly forward towards your target. This gives your swing a second longer to square up at impact and avoid the push shot!
7. Tee the Ball Higher
Teeing the ball up higher helps create a higher ball flight, better contact off the club face and minimizes the chances of error! It is easier to hit the ball when it is teed up higher which means your miss-hits will not be a severe as they would be if the tee were lower in the ground. Because the ball is teed up higher, you will come up on the ball a little more causing a higher ball flight. This ball flight will cause the ball to land more softly and not have the potential to keep rolling into unwanted areas. If you are looking for golf tees, check out my golfing accessories here to stock up before your round!
8. Take Note of the Wind
Wind conditions of 5-10 miles per hour on the course cause around 5-10 yards difference in the distance of your ball flight! That’s almost a full club difference! Pick up some grass blades and determine which way the wind is going so that you can choose the right club and aim accordingly to hit the fairway. Learn how to play in the wind by reading my article HERE
9. Swing Slower
The slower the swing speed, the lower the room for error. Most drivers have very light club shafts which encourage you to swing a lot faster than your other clubs. This causes a higher chance for potential swing faults and decreased consistency off the tee. DON’T SACRIFICE ACCURACY FOR DISTANCE! A 220 drive down the middle of the fairway compared to a 250-yard drive in the trees gives you a higher percentage to make a lower score on that hole. A simple drill you can use to slow your swing speed down is called the 2:1 drill.
To practice this drill, count 2 seconds during the backswing and then swing down at the ball. Most golfers who struggle off the tee box will have a 1:1 swing as their backswing will be just as fast as their downswing. So change your backswing by counting to 2 seconds, and you will see an improved swing tempo and more consistency hitting fairways.
10. Use an Iron
As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to use the driver off the tee. You don’t even have to use woods off the tee! On those days when you are having a terrible time off the tee, switch to an iron. Use a low iron like a 4 or 5. This will allow you to regroup and hit a shot out in play so you can limit the damage. There will be a lot less spin on the ball when using an iron so even if you miss-hit a shot, your ball will still be in play.
11. Take a Practice Swing
Taking a practice swing before your shot will help calm your nerves and prepare your muscles for your shot. You can read my full article here on why you should take a practice swing before every shot.
12. Use Quality Golf Balls
I know that finding and using golf balls out on the course can be fun. Sometimes you even strike gold and find some really nice ones! However, this is usually not the case. I ask all of my students what type of golf ball they are using, and almost all of them say,
“I’m not sure, just a ball I found at the bottom of my bag”….. or “A ball I just found in the creek.”
USE QUALITY GOLF BALLS! Golf balls fade after so many hits and definitely lose their ability to help your swing when they’ve been in the water for some time. Using a new or high-quality ball will decrease the amount of spin on your drives which can help with distance and accuracy. You can read more in an in-depth article about My Favorite Golf Balls for Beginners.
13. Hold Your Finish
We talked earlier about the importance of the takeaway and how it sets up your whole swing. But what about the finish? We can’t just let our arms swing out at the end of the swing and hope that the golf ball goes straight down the middle. We have to make sure that our body makes a FULL turn at the finish so that all of your weight is passed the golf ball. This type of finish will ensure a proper weight transfer passed the golf ball and added balance throughout your swing.
Hold Your Finish Drill
Go watch your favorite golfer tee off on TV or Youtube. Notice how they all hold their finish, staring down their shot? Let’s be like them! To do this:
- Follow through with your body getting a full rotation at the end of your swing
- Your chest should be pointing left of the target for right-handers, (right of the target for lefties)
- Your back heel should be lifted with your toe pointed towards your target
- All of your weight should be passed the golf ball on your front side
HOLD THIS POSITION FOR THREE SECONDS AFTER YOUR SHOT! By holding this position, you will teach your muscles to extend after contact and allow the momentum of your swing to follow through at impact creating better ball contact and consistency!
Sometimes all it takes are minor adjustments to hit more fairways out on the course! Using these 13 steps, you will feel more confident and relaxed when you go up to the tee to hit your shot. Whether you are going to swing slow, choke up or hit an iron off the tee, choose one of these tips to practice so that you will become more consistent with your tee shots. Remember, it is better to be 20 yards short in the fairway than 20 yards further in the rough.
ACCURACY IS KEY OFF THE TEE!
For those of you who have mastered your tee shots and are looking for a little more “distance” off the tee, I’ve got you covered! Read my article here on how to maximize your distance and impress your friends!
Golf is a game of percentages, and by lowering your percentage for error using these tips, you will save more strokes, lower your golf score and hit more fairways!