When referring to “off the tee” I mean shots hit on par 4’s & 5’s, holes that are predominantly played with longer clubs particularly the driver. On a “typical” 18 hole course layout there will be fourteen holes that come under this bracket then four par 3’s will complete the 18 hole layout. A slightly old fashioned statistic that was used to calculate how effective your tee shots were was simply the number of fairways you hit in a round of golf.
How important is it to hit the fairway? I guess the answer would depend on how the course is set up. If you have a US open style set up with long heavy rough just off the fairway then the hitting the short grass becomes key to being able to score. However most of us play on courses that are not as penalising when we miss a fairway. The point here is we would be better off analysing our tee shot accuracy using another method rather than fairways hit or missed. I think you can think in terms of 5 outcomes. Two are positive and three are likely to be negative to our score.
The optimum position to be that makes scoring well easier for us – this on some occasions might not be even be on the fairway.
A position that still gives us the chance to score but we will have to hit a good shot relative to our standard.
No shot which means we will waste a shot getting back to normal play.
Having to take a penalty shot drop – this is different from the above scenario and in some cases may mean we still have to hit another shot as well to get back to normal play.
Lost ball or out of bounds (stroke and distance) – this is effectively a 2 shot penalty straight away.
If your driving stats produce the positives and don’t have the negatives then your driving accuracy is good enough. This might mean that you have only hit a few fairways but it shouldn’t stop you from scoring. It’s also worth keeping in mind that on some occasions your ideal aim point for some of your tee shots may actually be in the rough – depending on your average dispersion and shot shape.
The main reason for writing this article is to perhaps get you to think if or how you think of your game. I had a couple of separate experiences recently where golfers suggested that certain parts of the game were letting them down but after a few weeks of looking at how they put their scores together, they then realised they were probably focusing on the wrong areas.
The fairway is for the most part the ideal place to be playing your approach shots from but good course management can help you avoid the negatives off the tee.