Don’t Get Lulled by Extra-Wide Fairways

    Just as golfers tend to tighten up at the sight of a thin fairway hemmed in by trees, rough or hazards, we often relax when faced with a wide playing alley unbound by trouble.

    Relaxation is a good thing, of course – as long as you don’t ignore the details.

    Wide fairways have come into vogue recently, and the trend figures to expand in the coming years. One reason: Modern designers have rediscovered the strategic value of broad fairways. Another: Golf courses are keen to speed up play, and nothing slows things down worse than golfers hunting for balls or hacking from thick rough.

    Where’s the strategy in a wide fairway? The Old Course at St. Andrews – the home of golf and the wellspring of course design – is famous for its vast playing corridors. Each hole offers a more favorable line of play, giving an advantage to the golfer who finds and follows it vs. the one who doesn’t. Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters Tournament, was built with similar qualities before recent changes narrowed it considerably.

    And another thing: Knowing the average golfer will let down his guard when there’s little fear of driving into trouble, course designers craft holes to favor astute players who drive to specific spots.

    Here’s the message: Just because a fairway is ample doesn’t mean you should carelessly declare, “Bombs away!” A haphazard tee shot may leave you with a blind approach, or one that must carry a deep bunker or water. Identify the best angle to the green and aim your drives precisely at that spot.