When I’m working with club golfers, they often struggle to maximise their fairway woods.
Whether it’s struggling for distance or height in the shot, a lot of people toil to get the most from their fairways.
Too many times, I’ll watch someone try to force the ball into the air as opposed to letting the club do the work and trusting the loft. That makes the club a little bit redundant. It also means they lose confidence.
When I’ve got a fairway wood in my hands, I set up with the ball inside my left heel and my weight favouring the right side.
Those are the basics – but to get the most out of your fairway you need to make use of your lower body. The best way to try and do that is to feel it without a club in your hands.
Have the feeling of your arms dropping in front of your body (not stuck in behind you) because having your arms out in front will promote a more solid strike.
The feeling of driving your legs – with your hips hard against your left side – will ensure you make use the loft.
Too many players try to force the ball up and, in doing so, reduce leg movement and leave too much weight on the right foot.
Look at the way Sergio Garcia (above) rips his fairway. He even takes a divot. So try to have the feeling of getting your arms in front and driving the lower half of your body with the ball out towards your target.
This is the average driver usage of Henrik Stenson (above) for par-4/5s. The average driver usage on tour is around 72%.
For longer hitters, that percentage falls to around 64%, then 81% for shorter hitters.
But for Stenson, that number is 33%. But his driver stats are impressive, too, considering how little he actually uses it. He’s one of the longest on tour, and he’s accurate.
Stat geeks in the States, such as Jake Nichols, are surprised Stenson doesn’t put the big stick into play more often. “Based on how well he hits driver,” says Nichols, “he could rank among the truly elite of the sport off the tee if he would only use the club more often.”
But the real reason is that his fairway wood gives him confidence. He trusts it, and he hits it long enough for him to compete against players using driver.
Andy Carlton is the Head PGA Professional at Paisley Golf Club. For lessons, call 0141 884 4114. Follow him on Twitter @PaisleyPro.