How important is being in play off the tee anyway? I mean, as long as I am not out of bounds, then hitting the fairway seems to be a luxury. I can whack my way down to the green just as quickly hitting out of the longer grass or edge of the trees and that boring player who hits off the short grass all the time. I think this is an overrated statistic and I am going to focus on other things. If you are the golfer I just described, then I suggest you need to read on because you are heading down the wrong path to improve your golf game.
Being in play off the tee is a very important statistic that cannot be overstated. If we are not in play, then many other options fall to the wayside. You likely cannot establish a good greens in regulation (GIR) stat and/or you cannot set up other shots to ensure you lower your score. If you are for ever hitting recovery or scramble second or third shots, then there is little chance you will score well.
A perfect example are my friends Blair and Rick. As you know these are my usual playing partners, so we understand each others game very well. Rick decided to institute a habit of setting minor goals before every round. And during the last round, Blair jumped on board.
Both had been struggling to place a ball in play for last few rounds. So, they set their goal to have the ball in play off the tee. Not in the fairway, but anywhere so they had a playable second shot. This included the rough or sand traps. Well, the results were amazing.
Rick was in play 16 times and Blair 17 times. After discussing the parameters of the ‘ticks’, they embraced the concept, relaxed, and as you can see were very successful. Both ended up shooting their lowest score of the 2020 season. It was a confidence builder and I think we will track the “ball in play off the tee” stat for a few more rounds.
I think by expanding the parameters of their ‘off the tee’ goal, they realized that it was simple, achievable, and realistic. By changing their thoughts about being in play instead of having to hit the fairway, they were able to change the end results. They were able to focus on an area they were struggling with and find a reasonable path to rectify their woes.
In my case, my ‘playable off the tee’ stat is narrowed to hitting the fairway. My game is such that I want and need a larger challenge. Last year, through 40 recorded rounds I had a 75% fairway hit percentage. This year, it is slightly higher (but it is still early). Being able to hit the fairway more often than not opens my game to many possibilities for course management. Additionally, being in play off the tee sets up the opportunities to score well.
As with Blair and Rick, being in play off the tee is very important. It sets up each golf hole and provides the opportunity to score well. If you are struggling with this part of your game, maybe open up the parameters to help you build some confidence. Success breeds success and any small steps towards lower golf scores is always a good thing.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
4 thoughts on “Being In Play Off The Tee”
Jim, did Blair and Rick club down on some tee shots? I would guess that leaving the driver in the bag for a few select holes would up the “in play” percentage. As Dr. Bob would say, “It’s best to make an aggressive swing on a conservative shot.” My last time out I should have hit 3wd on a hole where I took driver, and hit 3wd where I should have selected a 3-iron. In both instances, I hit great shots but ended up in trouble and it cost me three strokes. I guess it’s never too late to learn.
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I asked them today about changing clubs. Well, neither did but it forced them to focus more with very positive results.
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Fairways rule. I was one of those who didn’t always think that once but as my game got better, that changed. It was my ball striking that was the catalyst. The better I got at it, the less I feared the tighter lies on the fairways. I wish I had learned the line drill years earlier. I wasted a lot of time. I guess I’d heard “hit ball first” more than a few times but it never really sunk in. My mind was stuck on hit the ball at the bottom of the arc for best performance. And that led to divots that started inches before the ball more often than not. And it made the rough something I maybe not sought out, but often preferred. What I changed first was where I look when standing over the ball. I’d spent years with the wrong thought process and I thought it might be better if I simply went with that and change where I looked instead. That worked pretty well. Well enough I still do it today. But I’ve also spent hours with the line drill and hours working on my turn to keep from too much sway and I’m a much better ball striker for it and don’t fear the tight lies anymore.
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Kevin, great to hear you have found your swing. Keep it going!