Once you tee off on a par-4 or par-5 hole, the idea is to hit the ball into the fairway to make your second and third shots significantly easier. However, many golfers really don't know how to hit the ball from the fairway because they have a hard time staying straight and regularly hit the ball in the rough and because the lush fairway grass can be somewhat intimidating. One of the problems associated with fairway shots is that golfers hit the ground way before contact with the ball. This is known as hitting the ball fat.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Take your normal stance in the fairway, with your shoulders squared to the green or to the spot you want to hit your next shot. Play the ball about one ball length closer to your front leg than your back leg to avoid hitting the ball fat.
Bring your fairway wood, hybrid or long iron back by rotating your hips in a slow and deliberate manner. Rotate your hips back the other way and bring your hands through the ball. You are looking to make contact with the back of the ball as it rests on the lush green grass of the fairway.
Aim for a spot about 1/4th of an inch behind the ball. You do not want to risk poor contact with the ball and hitting it too high on its surface. To avoid doing that you must hit the turf before your club makes contact with the ball. Any more than a 1/4 of an inch behind the ball is likely to result in a fat shot.
Don't worry about taking a divot out of the fairway. You club head will cut a swatch out of the fairway and that swatch should be about 4 or 5 inches long. That's fine. The golf course owners have no problems with players who take divots--as long as they put them back in the spot they came.
Taking too big a divot means you have hit too far behind the ball and hit it fat. When you hit it fat, you don't get the kind of distance you want and your shot probably won't go straight either.
Tips & Warnings
Take a firm grip but don't choke the club. Golfers who hold the club too tight tend to hit the ball fat more than golfers who don't.