Eliminate One Side of the Golf Course

Eliminating One Side of the Golf Course

One task that Tiger Woods has done a great job of recently is eliminating half the golf course when he plays in competition. The TV analysts have lauded his low left rough tendency and claim that his ability to eliminate 50% of the golf course is closely associated with his winning ways. I would have to agree with them.

I recently read Hank Haney’s book The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods and it describes how Hank wanted Tiger to take half the golf course out of play. The benefit of this golf course management strategy is that any trouble (water hazards, bunkers, out of bounds) on the left side of the fairway is virtually out of play for Tiger. This keeps him from making a “big miss” to the left and saves him at least a few shots per tournament, if not more. Tiger’s old swing used to allow for the occasional large pull hook left – so far left that galleries never even saw the ball land. This led to many bogeys and double bogeys (or worse) – the types of holes that kill your ability to win tournaments, especially on the PGA Tour.




The average golfer could learn a thing or two from Tiger and over time develop a swing that helps them take half the golf course out of play. A lot has been made about eliminating the left side of the golf course because that is what Tiger does. If your swing tendency is a fade or slice, then this may be the appropriate course of action. However, most people don’t hit the ball as far as Tiger does with a fade or cut shot. The above average golfer who hits a draw would be best served to eliminate the right side of the golf course and continue to play the draw on most important shots throughout the round.



How does removing one side of the golf course factor into your everyday practice and on the course strategy?

On the practice range, groove your swing like you normally would; however, pay attention to how many golf balls finish to the left and to the right of your target. If your tendency is 50% left and 50% right – you really have no tendency – then eliminating half the golf course may not be a viable strategy for you.  But if you are 80% one way or the other, then you have some real promise here. The key will be learning how to change your swing slightly to protect from the other 20% of shots that are going to the side you want to eliminate. Work with a teacher to try to find a swing key or slight adjustment that can make it virtually a 0% probability that you will hit it to the side you want to eliminate. You only have to use this swing a few times around, when the penalty of hitting it on that side of the hole is very costly. The remainder of the time, you should swing normally.


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While we’re virtually ensured that we will never be as good as Tiger, we can learn from his course strategy and play smarter golf in the process.

Good luck trying to implement this concept into your golf game! Please bookmark us, tell your golf buddies, and subscribe to our RSS feed to be alerted to when we publish new posts.