Fairways Hit and Proximity to Hole – Key Takeaways

  • Being farther back on a hole decreases your chance of hitting the green in regulation.
  • The greater your approach distance, the greater the resulting proximity to the hole.
  • The shorter the iron, the better the chance of hitting it closer to the pin.

Improved Performance Through Data

Big data is a powerful tool. Not only does it allow golfers to assess individual parts of the game but it provides an opportunity to examine performance from a variety of perspectives.

Golf stat tracking and performance management companies like Shot Scope help golfers better understand their on-course performance. However, by aggregating data from golfers around the world, we get a more complete picture of the realities of amateur performance.

So, as we dive into a relatively straightforward topic, think about where you find the most difficulty on the course. Does club choice make a difference in whether you hit the fairway?

Fairways Hit With Driver Versus 3-Wood

Percentage of fairways hit with driver and 3 wood


  • The average is 47 percent for both driver and 3-wood.
  • Using a 3-wood provides only a 1- to 2-percent increase in fairways hit across all handicaps.

While using a 3-wood results in a very minor increase in fairways hit, there is an average loss of roughly 30 yards in distance.  As obvious as it may sound, being closer to the green means landing closer to the hole.

Longer Off the Tee is Beneficial

Average proximity to hole by club



  • Accuracy drops off with distance from the green.
  • Hitting a 9-iron puts golfers, on average, 40-feet closer to the hole compared to a 4-iron.

Again, nothing surprising here. Being further away means less accuracy.

Greens in regulation by club

When you have a shorter iron, you hit more greens in regulation and have more chances to make putts.

Putting It All Together

Performance average distance by club and handicap (yards)

  • 30 yards equates to a difference of nearly four clubs (eg., 9-iron versus 6-iron) across all handicaps.

Based on these charts, hitting the ball 30 yards shorter off the tee can result in being as much as 20 to 30 feet farther from the hole on your approach and hitting 20 percent fewer greens in regulation. The distance sacrificed by hitting 3-wood is not worth it even if your fairways hit percentage increase. Just get your driver out and you should hit more greens and have fewer putts based on proximity to the hole.

How Do You Compare?

Do you score better or worse than the Shot Scope database averages?

What’s your biggest takeaway? Where is there room for improvement in your game?

Post a comment below!

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