NCG’s Golf Glossary: What is a fairway?

The Scoop

What is a fairway in golf? Don't know your dormies from your doglegs? Or your stymies from your shanks? NCG's Glossary of Golf Terms is here to help.

Here at NCG we pride ourselves on being the publication for the everyday player, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to delve into the wonderful world of the golfing lexicon.

Sometimes the most obvious terms have the most interesting story, so you might find yourself an interesting conversation starter…

What is a fairway?

This is the closely mown part of a golf course between a tee and a green.

How would you use it in a sentence?

“I missed every fairway today.”

“I’ve only gone and hit it 320 (265) down the middle of the fairway.”

What are the origins?

The original term for the playing area was the ‘fair green’ which was mentioned in the first Rules of Golf in 1744. A hundred years later the word fairway, which has been associated with fishermen and freemasons, arose when it was possible to cut back the grass.

The freemasons laid great store by ‘fair play’ in golf which is where the word may have come from though it is also an old nautical term for a navigable channel. And, given that many of the early courses began on links, this is where the fishing nets were laid out to dry.

Any other business?

The American Ryder Cup player Calvin Peete probably spent more time than anyone on the fairway. His nickname was ‘Mr Accuracy’ given his straightness off the tee. He fell out of a tree at the age of 12 and broke his elbow; it was set badly and fused, leaving his left arm permanently bent.

He came to golf late, developed a style to allow for his crooked arm and developed unnerving accuracy. For 10 consecutive years he led the PGA Tour in hitting fairways.

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