Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

The Ground Game

Deceptive fairway? Don't panic—remember these 3 things instead


Ahead of the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, which demands golfers navigate their ball on and around the baked-out slopes, we're launching a daily Ground Game series. A slate of daily articles to help you better understand how to use the ground to your advantage.

Pinehurst No. 2 can play tricks on your eyes. It might look like you’ve got tons of room to park your tee shot (above, left), only to find it kept rolling through the fairway and was swallowed by some wiregrass. Firm fairways mean less friction to stop the ball, so you can’t just swing away. You need to figure out both the direction and distance your ball can safely go to stop in a good lie.

1. Double your curve

When fairways are running hot, overestimate, even double, the amount of curve you see. Remember, when the ball hits the ground, it will roll in that direction even more.

2. Pick an intermediate target

Identify any trouble spots and visualize your shot in relation to avoiding those spots. Then, select the optimal distance and direction for your tee shot and pick something just in front of your ball to help line you up. (Note: It’s against the rules to place something down as an intermediate target, so be sure to pick something already lying there, like a spot of dead grass.)


3. Make your last look count

Remember to aim your club at the target just in front of you before you set your feet, and give that target one last glance before pulling the trigger. Why? Looking farther down the fairway can conjure negative thoughts such as, Don’t go left or I have to carry a hazard. Focusing on the intermediate target helps clear your mind.