How to Manage Tight Fairways


That was a Tiger Woods-like performance by Brian Gay at the Verizon Heritage this past week. You don’t expect to see a guy ranked 96th in the World Golf Ranking (as Gay was heading into the Heritage) to lap the field by 10 shots. Tiger or Phil Mickelson? Sure. But Brian Gay? Gay not only had the perfect game for Harbour Town Golf Links, he had the inner-confidence that few players other than Woods possess. It was great to watch.
Harbour Town is notorious for its narrow fairways and small greens, yet Gay managed to hit 84 percent of his fairways and 66.7 percent of his greens for the week. Those are remarkable numbers on a course that is tighter than Paris Hilton’s waistline. How’d he do it? Here a few tips to help you the next time you play a super-tight golf course:
  • Pick high targets, not low ones. The lower your focus, the more aware you are of your surroundings (trees, out of bounds, water, etc.). By picking a higher target, like the top of a tree or mountain, the more in the periphery these surroundings are and the easier it is to swing away with confidence.
  • Let go. Make sure to swing to a full finish and be aggressive. Sometimes it helps to picture yourself hitting into a vast ocean, not a lean fairway. The more cautious you are with your swing, the more likely you are to steer or manipulate the club and miss your target.
  • Treat every drive like it’s your birthday. Ask yourself what it is you want to do. “I want to start the ball at this tree and fade it back to the fairway.” Give yourself a gift, don’t take it away by thinking about what you don’t want.