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Tee It Forward
By Kickntrue on 5/25/11
The USGA and PGA Of America are launching a new initiative to get golfers playing the correct tees. Called "Tee It Forward" the program aims to speed play and make golf more enjoyable by getting amateurs playing shorter courses based on their average driving distance.
“Simply put, TEE IT FORWARD can make golf much more fun for millions of people,” said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. “We believe that by moving up to another set of tees, golfers will experience an exciting, new approach to the game that will produce more enjoyment and elevate their desire to come back and play even more golf."

Barney Adams, the founder of Adams Golf, provided the concept that led to TEE IT FORWARD. By playing from forward tees, amateur golfers have the chance to play the course at the same relative distance as a touring professional would over 18 holes. The playing field is leveled by giving golfers the opportunity to play from distances that are properly aligned with their abilities.
I actually like this idea, at least to some degree. We all know golfers who play tees they have no business playing. That said- who is the USGA to determine what makes golf "fun?" To some people- getting beat up from the tips on a special course is part of the appeal. Also- I have issue with the idea that playing from tees too long for a golfer is a main cause of slow play. Courses who keep their rough way too long and punitive for weekend play, and who consistently book tee-times 8 minutes apart are to blame for that. You can play some really fast golf from the tips, even if you have no business playing from there. The key is getting to your ball and hitting your next shot- and having the course empower marshals to actually do something about the "slow-agans." In my personal experience- play actually slows down on weekends when courses try to shorten their courses by moving tees way up from marked distances. You end up having 220 yard shots in on par 5s instead of 275 and have to wait for the green to clear instead of laying up- and the whole courses bunches in general.

As pointed out by some- the actual numbers are somewhat crazy- especially at the high end (see chart - right). They suggest a PGA Tour professional play a course between 7600-7900 yards. Ironically, only one such course with that length exists on the PGA Tour (Cog Hill). For someone who can average a 225 yard drive, they suggest a course length of 5800-6000 yards. For an amateur- I can hit a drive pretty far, and my "real" average, as proved by oob is around 225. A 5800 yard course is downright short... but I guess that's kind of the point. I really don't mind a program to get people "moving up" but I don't want to do it every time out. Sure my score may improve by a couple strokes, but I don't pay $50 to go out there and hit Driver/sand wedge 14 times a round.

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[ comments ]
mjaber says:
I'm a firm believer in the Par3 philosophy (which I think I came up with). Look at the distances of the par3s from each tee. If you're going to be hitting driver or fairway wood from the tees you're planning on playing, you're playing from the wrong tees.
5/25/11
 
dartboss04 says:
i agree and think you should be able to pick the tee you want as long as you keep up with the pace of play...as you said, if i want to play the tips at a pga tour course to see what it's like, i should be able to...

i do see a lot of golfers playing from the wrong tees...over 18 handicaps playing from the tips...doesn't seem like fun...

i know it is a pride issue, and i definitely feel a little bad sometimes playing from the whites, but i just look at the different tee boxes as different courses and a different view of each hole...we play a red white blue tournament at my men's club where you switch tee boxes on each hole...it's one of my favorite events because we see the course in a new light...
5/25/11
 
Kurt the Knife says:
I can't play the red tees cuz people point at me and laugh and make buzzing noises with their lips n stuff.
5/25/11
 
birdieXris says:
Yea i'm not sure this is the way to go about getting more people to play golf. I think if you can play the tees and still keep the pace of play, then play them. I DO however, think the way to get people to play more golf is: Make it cheaper to get on the course. have group rates on lessons and have "lesson days" where you take people onto the course in groups to help them understand the game and how to play golf.
5/25/11
 
gpickin says:
I agree about the long grass.
The only reason I am SLOW at times is finding my ball just off the fairway.
There is no reason for crazy rough... if you hit it there, you're getting punished anyways.

As for the Par 3 rule. I play from the whites, but 1 course has par 3s where i can't hit to them with an iron, they are all 200-240... from the whites.
I think its kinda crazy, but we dont have a lot of water and other hazards, so our courses are just longer with more sand.

Even if you play shorter courses, I'm not sure how much more enjoyable it will be.
Par 3 courses exist, but do new golfers go and play there?

I am an avid cricket player too, and they have changed that game so many times to make it more enjoyable to watch and play, I guess golf is no different.
5/25/11
 
ppinkert says:
If I play a short Tee and my score comes down does that mean my golfing skills got better or is that just a bit of creative math to give the impression I got better? Seems like to me I can't be sure I'm doing better if I lower my scores by moving up to a new Tee Box. But, on the other hand if it keeps me out of the way of a really good golfer, then it's cool I guess. I normally play alone after work during the week 9 holes at a time. I don't think to many people care much what Tee I use.
5/25/11
 
LINKSWIZARD says:
Play should be the directive as to which tees are played. If you can play good golf form the tips do so!! IF NOT MOVE UP! Leave your ego at home.
5/25/11
 
jerdman says:
I like playing the tips cause it makes me use the 14 clubs I have in my bag. If they recommend me playing courses that are 6400 yards, hitting driver wedge takes a lot of the challenge out of it. Sure the pros do it, but those guys have incredible distance.
5/25/11
 
Dusty23 says:
several years back i saw a formula which used your average 5 iron distance multiplied or divided by some other number (sorry i don't remember the details) to help determine where you should play from. it seemed to make sense though. i also just read something by Tom Watson (might have been Golf Digest) where he felt that if players are consistently hitting fairway woods and hybrids into par 4's that you need to move up.
5/25/11
 
Envythepea says:
You can hit it in the rough with a bad drive from the forward tee as easily as you can from the back tee. Just get to your ball without dillydallying and hit the dang thing again!
5/25/11
 
mmontisano says:
just pay attention to the slope rating. that's why they were created because it takes distance into account and the fact that you're not a scratch golfer.

i try to keep the slope rating anywhere between 130 to 135. regardless of distance, it's always challenging.
5/25/11
 
cjgiant says:
Playing from the back tees when you shouldn't be does tend to slow up play, I promise you. Maybe not for everyone, but for quite a few. I have tended to play the "blue" tees on most courses with my friend. Occasionally when we are paired with a player who plays back with us when he probably shouldn't (hell, sometimes we shouldn't be back there, depending on our play). In most cases (granted, not all), we feel slowed up waiting for the player, looking for his ball, not wanting to move forward of him to set up for our shots (keeping up our pace), etc.

So while I agree that "if you can keep up, play any tee", I just argue it's less likely that you can if you are playing the wrong tee.
5/25/11
 
cjgiant says:
This year, I am trying a different swing, and my driver has lost some yardage. I have moved up a tee on most courses I play because of this. I do this partially for my own enjoyment and partially because I think it's appropriate.

I do realize my scores may be lower because of this. However, a golfer's "skill" as measured by HC is based off the course rating and slope, not its par. Moving up a tee does in effect "lower the par" of a course, and I expect to shoot an equivalent number of strokes lower.

So if you move up one tee and start breaking 90 more often, it might not mean you are a better golfer. However, it's no different than starting to play a different, easier course and shooting under 90 more often.
5/25/11
 
preny says:
This would make more sense if you assumed amateurs had the brains/willpower to not hit driver 14 times a round
5/25/11
 
Trav says:
@dusty23 = 5 iron formula is: take your average 5-iron distance, multiply by 36, and choose the tees that match that yardage. If you hit your 5-iron 180 yards, play 6500 yard tees.

I also use the Par 3 formula above = no drivers into greens, unless that hole is really out of line with everything else.

One advantage to playing off front tees is you don't have to worry as much about a rule sometimes called the Texas Whip Rule.
5/25/11
 
Werepuppie says:
I try to play a variety of tees.I figure if I can break 100 from a tee,the next time I play there I back up a tee.I am by no means a good or even fair golfer,but if you play the forward tees all the time,how can you ever learn to hit a 3 iron on from 185yds out?You actually remove every club lower than a 5 iron from your game by moving up.
5/25/11
 
TeT says:
it is always enjoyable to play a better round and frankly the forward tees would do that for many golfers...
5/25/11
 
GolferAnt says:
golfer 1: " yes! I got a birdie!"
golfer 2: "well..that's only cause u played on the red tees"
golfer 1: :-(
5/25/11
 
Neo says:
I think it's great. Keep in mind these guidelines are not for you guys, but rather for the clueless that stammer up to the first tee each weekend. A small card showing the distances, or even the pro shop attendant pointing it out would be nice. Of course, most amateurs drive it "300" so they'll all be at the back tees anyway.
5/25/11
 
Duke of Hazards says:
I generally play whatever tees the other single (or pair) I get matched up with plays from, as some sort of self-imagined courtesy. I know that I suck, but I suck more from inside 100 yards. Tee color doesn't seem to affect my score. I shoot the same number every time.
5/26/11
 
stedar says:
I guess the easiest way to determine which tees you are off is take the highest handicap in the group (assuming they hit the ball shorter than anyone else in group, not always the case though) and play from the tees that match that ability. I would guess a mid handicap of 10 would be off whites, a high handicap of 24 off Reds and low handicap of 6 from Blue, then scratch from Black. Would be better to have cards issued for group with tee colour indicated, therefore no ego involved. you play to your weakest player... IMO :-)
5/26/11
 
birdieXris says:
I still say the way to make people's enjoyment of the game come more easily is not to change the game but to change the knowledge of the people playing it.
5/26/11
 
Bryan K says:
Regarding the deep roughs...I think all courses should implement at least a two cut system. That way, just missing the fairway hurts, but not terribly bad. Really missing the fairway hurts...really bad. And I realize that takes a bit of extra work, so if the course isn't up to it, they should keep all of the roughs relatively short.
5/26/11
 
bkuehn1952 says:
Well, there are two goals to the "Tee it Forward" campaign: increase enjoyment and speed play. The assumption is that most, not all, golfers enjoy shooting low scores versus high ones. So to increase the enjoyment of most golfers, playing shorter tees makes sense. Those who get enjoyment from facing extreme challenges regardless of the results can continue to play the tips. Everyone's enjoyment level will be the same or greater.

On the speed issue, the length of the course is a factor but not the overriding one. A slow player is going to be slow whether the course plays 5,800 yards or 7,800. True, at 7,800 yards the slow player will have many more opportunities to be slow. However, moving the slow player up to 5,800 yards is merely a bandage.

Getting more people to play forward is a start but it won't fix the game.
5/26/11
 
mjaber says:
Why not have the courses print on the scorecard where you should be playing depending on your handicap?

The rangers have also been mentioned. Thankfully, a couple courses in my area have done what was suggested, in empowering the rangers to speed up the slow players. One course has a 3 strike rule. The ranger will come by and let you know you are out of position and ask you to speed up. The next time by, if you are still out of position, the ranger will ask you to move back into position, by skipping a hole. The third time, you will be asked to end your round.
5/26/11
 
homermania says:
@mjaber - A lot of courses around me have tee suggestions based on handicap. I find them to be very accurate. Seems like that would be the easiest way to determine where to play without having to calculate distances.
5/26/11
 
jrbizzle says:
Two years ago I played a nice course not too far away. I played from the white tees, as it was already slope rated above 120. I was playing well and on the back nine I caught up to a foursome who waved me through. I hit a 4 wood down the fairway to about 120 yards from the green. One of the gentleman told me I should move back a set of tees, which I laughed at and then hit a PW into the green and two putted for par. I broke 90 that day and enjoyed every minute of it.
5/26/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
oh yeah, and I am 20 handicap.
5/26/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
For some reason I play better from the Blue tees, always have. But the rest of the groups I play with shoot from the White tees. It doesn't matter which tees I shoot from, my round of 18 is within 3.5 to 4.5 hours long, with the longer time being because of waiting for groups in front to clear out.
5/26/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
FYI: I posted my handicap after the other post. For some reason they got switched.
5/26/11
 
Agustin says:
Golf is not about driving distance, so to me this is B.S. You should play the tees that match you handicap... Double digits HCP should plan the forward tees (non senior), single digit - middle tees; 4 or less get to play the tips. I my home course here are the rating/slope/yardage for all mens tees:

Senior (Gold): 69.9/130/5,947
Front (White): 72.1/138/6,494
Middle (Blue): 73.0/142/6,954
Back (Black): 75.9/144/7544

Can you imagine the pace for a 20+ hacker playing the tips, with heavy rough and nature areas bordering all faiways? He may be able to hit the driver 300+ but what good is that if he'll lose his ball half the time.
5/26/11
 
Agustin says:
@ homermania - Spot on!
5/26/11
 
Daemas says:
Two of the biggest issues regarding slow play are long rough and blind shots. I had a shot the other day that I topped about 50 yards in front of me. Absolutely horrible shot. Got up to where my ball should have been, and I couldn't find it. After 5min I resorted to taking my club like a rake, trying to hit it so I could find it, never did. I should definitely be been penalized for rough, but that's absolutely ridiculous.

The second, blind shots, is really more of an issue when the person golfing can't hit it straight. (which, let's be honest, is 90% of the golfers in the world) so now not only are they contending with the long rough, but now they can't even see an approximate landing area.

Even better still is when it's cart path only so you have to look for your ball at 2 miles an hour instead of 20 because the staff refuse to take care of the course.
5/26/11
 
bobhooe says:
I play a game with my step dad, we play 1 round from each tee box and average the scores. it's fun to hit different clubs into the greens after you have played the same course 100 times. kind of just depends on what kind of day yur having, last time I did this I shot 86 from the back tees and 84 from the seniors.
5/27/11
 
cjgiant says:
I agree tee length is not the sole or even the main cause of slow play. A tight course with a lot of hazards will do it to, but playing a tight course from 6,000 yards is easier/faster than playing it from 6,700.

If a player isn't that good, he isn't going to be a whole lot faster up a tee, probably... but he might. And at least if he plays up, in theory they are hitting our second shots from about the same spot and taking about the same number of times getting to the hole. That leads (for me) to a more enjoyable pace and round, regardless of what that player scores.

All that said, playing the right tee isn't necessarily a factor of driver length or any distance. If you can hit it consistently and fairly straight, you will be able to keep pace. And you will probably score decently. And my comments probably aren't about you.
5/27/11
 
falcon50driver says:
What age can you start playing the senior tees?
5/27/11
 
sjinsd says:
Hmmm...I shoot about the same from forwards or middle tees. I think the bottom line is no matter where you are playing from, you need to keep the pace. A guy or girl who doesn't play much or play well should pack his or her ego in the bag and play to a shot limit on each hole... like double par. I played with a person last week that SIX putted a hole. Just pick the @*$!@ ball up!
5/30/11
 
pmareschal says:
I always consider myself as a beginner (20+ hdcp), and my instructor recommended I always start with the "most forward" tees. As I get close to par from the most forward tees, I would progressively move backward, but only if I reached something close to par. Of course, when I play with friends, I play the "men's tees" with them. What I find interesting, is that from 20, 40, 60 yards back from the "most forward tee", we play a completely different course. So I practice alone from the women's tee, and play with friends from the men's.
5/31/11
 
jalsing says:
I think courses should eliminate the stigma of 'ladies' tees, etc. One course I frequent has non-traditional tee colors, 'gold', 'grey', 'black', 'green' and simply puts on the scorecard which tee to play based on handicap.
5/31/11
 
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