More fun from the correct tees

May 30, 2011
This shows the recommended total yardages based on driving distance. COURTESY TEE IT FORWARD / CHRIS FOSTER GRAPHIC

The blue tees at Shawnee Country Club stretch out to just under 6,400 yards for the par-70 18-hole course.

You won’t find me there.

I once thought it would be a good idea to take turns playing the course from the two main men’s tees - one round from the blues, and the next round from the whites, which test Shawnee golfers at just under 6,000 yards.

I believe the correct technical term for this strategy is “mistake.” In large part, that’s because on my good driving days, the best ones only go about 225 yards. For several of the long holes from the blue tees, therefore, I was faced with hitting a fairway wood or a hybrid for my second shots, with no guarantee that the ball would finish on the green. More often than not, the added pressure to make a good second shot with a long club led to a duff or squiff. That meant my third shot to the green would be a full wedge, or something longer.

Par was nearly always out of the question, and bogey was no guarantee, either.

I’m still a bogey golfer from the white tees, but not having as many long second shots makes my rounds a lot more fun.

The United States Golf Association and the Professional Golfers Association of America have noticed the same thing about millions of other golfers. Thanks to some intriguing statistical analysis comparing the professional game to us mere amateurs, the two organizations announced this week a new initiative to improve scores and fun for the nation’s golfers.

The Tee It Forward program encourages golfers to play their favorite courses at the length best suited to their particular talents, by reference to their average driving distance. Inspired by Barney Adams, the founder of Adams Golf, the idea is to give amateurs as many chances to use their 6- or 7-irons for their approach shots as the touring professionals often do in their competitions. The organizations believe that moving up to the right tee boxes will also speed up the pace of play, a nagging problem especially for public play golf courses. The statistical analysis supporting the move-up is a bit startling. For example, many golfers on par-72 layouts think they should play tee boxes that take up 6,500 to 6,700 yards. For PGA Tour players, that is proportionally equivalent to an 8,100 challenge, hundreds of yards longer than what they face during most tournaments.

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