Hitting Fairways At The US Open

Why are so many of the big name pros being embarassed at the US Open? They can’t hit the fairways.

The Golf Channel just had an interesting statistic:

In 1998, 90 of the PGA Tour players hit 70% or more of fairways on Tour. Last year, just 16 players hit 70%.

What’s changed?

The analysts blamed the drive for more distance.  The equipment that the pros are playing these days are all geared for distance. And if they miss the fairway, it’s no big deal. On most tour stops they can easily blast it out of the rough.

But things are different at the tricked up US Open. Missing the fairway exacts a proper penalty.

Just take a look at Eldrick Woods. The reason that he’s not around for the weekend is that he hit only 25% of the fairways. His usual strategy of blasting the ball off the tee and then making a recovery to within distance of a birdie putt just wasn’t working.

I remember reading a book by Tom Watson in which he advised playing a fade or a draw as a strategy for taking half the course out of play. If you play a fade down the left side, the fairways are twice as wide as they are when you blast it down the middle. Think about it and it makes perfect sense.

The Golf Channel analysts said that the tour reps at Callaway and Titleist have noted that when given a choice, players will almost invariably choose the one that offers ten more yards over one that offers a greater ability to shape a shot. Callaway, for example, has two tour caliber balls: The HX Tour for distance and the Tour 56 for shot shaping. Apparently none of their players chose the Tour 56. Adam Scott apparently is the only one playing the old Pro V that has more spin.

3 thoughts on “Hitting Fairways At The US Open”

  1. This is amazing I think.  Why are they still going for 300 yard drives instead of 240 yards with a 3 iron- or 260-275 with a 3wood if they can keep that straight?  Or couldn’t they blast a 1-iron way down there in the fairway?

    Are the pros just like me in that they think they are wasting that big expensive club if they don’t use it as often as possible?

    The differnce is mine is going 240 yards, and I am in the fairway 70% of the time.  But I am finally getting the hang of it that when my driver goes wacky on me, I grab one of the 3s: Wood, Iron, or Hybrid.

  2. I have seen the fairways—as narrow as 24 yards in the prime landing zones. All the more reason to play a controlled fade. If they split the middle, there is only room for 12 yards worth of error on either side. A fade would leave them with 24 yards.


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