Scratch Golf Lesson 03: Fairways in Regulation
Today we are talking about the fairway in regulation statistic in golf. How many fairways in regulation do you hit per round of golf? If you’re like most golfers, you put a lot of emphasis on your tee shot and let the outcome affect your attitude for the rest of that hole. Sound familiar?
You hit a poor tee shot and it spirals into a negative effect that hurts the proceeding shots as well?
Today’s post will dive deeper into the key metric known as Fairways in Regulation and shed some light on drills you can do to improve the number of fairways you hit per round.
But first, review the previous articles of this Scratch Golf series:
- Lesson 01: Are You Ready for the Golf Season
- Lesson 02: Establishing Your Handicap as a Starting Point
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What is a Fairway in Regulation?
One of the first metrics you need to start tracking on your journey to scratch golf is the Fairway in Regulation, also known as FIR.
A fairway in regulation occurs anytime your tee shot lands in the fairway! Most golf courses have 18 holes but only 14 of them have tee shots to a fairway. The other 4 holes are often par 3 holes where your tee shot is attempting to land on the green.
Therefore, you’ll track your Fairway in Regulation statistic out of 14. Greens in Regulation, however, will be out of 18 since you are attempting to hit the green every hole.
The next time you play a round of golf, track how many fairways you hit off the tee shot.
Are You Hitting Enough Fairways?
Now that you understand what a Fairway in Regulation is, your next question is probably along the lines of “How do I compare to other golfers?”
In order to see how well you’re doing, I’ve pulled a graphic from TheGrint.com which is an amazing app I recommend using to track your golf stats each round. The Grint has thousands of users on their stat tracking app, which means they have good data to analyze and see how golfers are performing. Here is what they found..
As you can see, the best golfers in the world who score par or better average 8.8 out of 14 fairways per round which results in hitting the fairway roughly 63% of the time.
Surprisingly, the data doesn’t differ much across handicap levels. This tells me that hitting the fairway is important but not as important to your golf score as short game. For example, a 30 handicap golfer could hit 6 fairways on average, 2 less than a par golfer, but they are still shooting 30 strokes worse than the par golfer.
Boom. You’ve been served. Work on your short game to drop your handicap and don’t stress so much about the driver unless it’s absolutely getting you in trouble with penalty strokes from hitting out of bounds, water, etc.
Also, grab my golf skills assessment challenge and see how good your golf skills are in different areas of the game: Driving, Iron Play, Chipping, Putting, etc.
How to Improve Your Fairways in Regulation?
FIR Fix #1:
The first and easiest method to improve your fairways in regulation is to determine which club you hit best off the tee. Maybe your driver isn’t doing so hot for you but you can stripe a 5 wood straight a high percentage of the time.
Run a test and see which long clubs (drivers, woods, 4 or 5 iron) you hit straightest and best. Then consider using this club off the tee to ensure you hit the fairways more frequently.
You’ll have to determine if sacrificing distance is going to negatively affect you or not. Usually, you’ll be okay sacrificing distance by hitting an iron instead of driver because being in the fairway leads to a better second shot for most golfers making up for the lack of distance.
If you can still get to the green on your next shot, then definitely consider giving up some distance and taking accuracy as priority instead.
This is what the PGA Tour players do. They could easily smash a ball 300+ yards if they wanted to, but most will lay off the distance and instead focus on hitting fairways to give themselves a great approach shot.
FIR Fix #2:
The second way to improve your fairways in regulation is to work on your golf swing, and in particular your driver. Consider taking some swing lessons from the local PGA teaching instructor at a nearby golf course. They’ll be able to analyze your golf swing, tell you what you’re doing wrong, and give you corrective drills to help straighten out your golf swing.
Most teaching pro’s will charge $45 for a half hour lesson which isn’t bad. You could inquire about a package deal where you get 5 lessons at a discounted price and use your lessons up over time.
I usually give myself a few weeks after taking a lesson to implement the instruction the pro gave me before considering returning for another lesson. You could consider the next lesson as a check up to see how you’re progressing from the first lesson and what you can do to continue your swing improvement.
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Fairway in Regulation Drills
Lookout for a future post dedicated solely to drills that work on improving your driver but for today I recommend this one drill I like to focus on during a range session.
When I get to the driving range, I’ll look out into the range and find two targets that are roughly 35 yards apart. This simulates a fairway and I consider it a fairway in regulation if I can hit a drive that stays between these two targets.
Once you’ve picked your targets as boundaries for your imaginary fairway, get out a few clubs to set on the ground as alignment sticks. Align yourself to the center of the imaginary fairway so you’re hitting every shot with focus and proper alignment. If you’re shot ends up left or right of where you’re aligned but still within the fairway boundaries then it counts as a fairway in regulation. But it also shows you your swing tendency if you want to try and make some minor tweaks.
Overall, make sure you’re focused on the range. Pick targets and align yourself properly. Don’t just randomly hit golf balls at the driving range like most people do with their driver. Instead, hit every shot with purpose and focus. Make it a game where you try to hit 10 out of 15 fairways today and next time you aim for 11, beating your old score. Or maybe you try to hit 4 in a row and next time you hit 5 fairways in regulation in a row.
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