Would You Rather Never Miss Another Fairway, Or Never Three Putt Again?

Always play from the short stuff vs fewer wasted on the greens

Never Miss Another Fairway
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fergus Bisset and Jeremy Ellwood debate the relative merits of always playing your second from the short stuff and fewer wasted shots on the putting surface.

Would You Rather Never Miss Another Fairway, Or Never Three Putt Again?

Never Miss Another Fairway says Fergus Bisset

How horrible is the sensation as you watch your ball sailing inexorably towards the out of bounds, the neck high rough or a penalty area?

It must be one of the most helpless and painful feelings in golf.

Can you imagine never experiencing such traumas again?

To know you would never miss another fairway would be hugely liberating and exhilarating for any golfer.

Swing as hard as you like: Fairway. Take your head up quickly to look where it’s gone: Fairway.

Levels of on-course relaxation would go sky high.

Knowing you’ll always be playing your second from the short stuff, you could really focus on the scoring zone and shooting low.

Never three putting again would, of course, be very welcome indeed, but it wouldn’t necessarily translate to superb scoring.

If you’ve shelled one off the course, hacked around in the rough before blasting out of a greenside bunker, two putts for a nine is fairly scant consolation.

But, never missing a fairway would offer such potential for success.

Playing every approach shot from short grass would allow you to hone your iron play and give yourself countless birdie chances.

OK, you might occasionally three-putt for a bogey, but you would inevitably make more birdies and pars when approaching the greens from the correct place.

If you put any golfer, from beginner to elite professional, in the fairway every time after one shot, their scores would improve.

But, for the average amateur, the change would be significant.

No more three off the tee, no more hacking out sideways.

Only a dramatic increase in confidence and a chance to fire in solid approaches and make some birdies. Yes please. I’ll take the fairway every time.

Would You Rather Never Miss Another Fairway, Or Never Three Putt Again?

Never Miss Another Fairway

Never Miss Another Fairway

Never Three Putt Again says Jeremy Ellwood

As my fellow combatant acknowledges, being magically blessed with either of these highly desirable attributes would be splendid.

But the difference in our relative abilities is the reason I would much prefer to never three-putt again.

For a proper ball-striker like Fergus, being on the fairway is, indeed, hugely beneficial.

Not only will you more often than not have a good line in, but a good ball-striker will also then have the chance to control the ball much more than from the rough.

For poor ball-strikers like me, it really makes no odds between fairway or light rough, though of course, beyond that becomes problematic.

As a stranger to spin, I would often actually prefer to be coming in from the slightly more fluffy stuff.

My game is built around my ability to save myself countless shots on and around the green, and the rounds that drive me closest to exasperation are those where I actually hit it half decently but throw in a few three-putts just when I’ve finally given myself a chance to capitalise on my putting prowess.

Is there a worse feeling in golf than striding up to a good birdie chance, only to skulk off minutes later with bogey on the card after misjudging pace or line and failing to hole the resulting four-footer?

Some club golfers who believe they’re half-decent putters would be surprised to discover just how many of their rounds would be improved by a guarantee of 36 putts maximum.

I’ve certainly played with plenty who are better than their handicaps from tee to green, but simply don’t realise how many shots they’re wasting through poor putting and way too many three-putts.

Hitting fairways for fun would be lovely; a foolproof magic wand would be even better.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?