L.J. Lawson: Tee it forward for more fun on the golf course this summer

Golf is one of the few sports where people of different skill levels can play together and even compete against each other. A golf handicap is part of the reason this can happen and Larry will tell you more about handicaps next week; the other is having different tee boxes. Hopefully, you’re beginning to see tee boxes reference handicaps or driver distances rather than “men’s” or “ladies” tees. This is one of the signs that your club supports the Tee it Forward initiative.

Tee it Forward is all about helping golfers have a good experience so they can have more fun. It’s not fun to be counting strokes in the double digits by the time you get to the green or rushing to hit your ball three or four times before your playing partner hits theirs twice!

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And yet, so many golfers prefer to go out on the course and punish themselves by playing a set of tees that make the course much longer than it should be for the distances they can hit.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been behind a group that has decided to play the furthest-back tees and it takes them three shots just to clear all the tee boxes, let alone get to the fairway!

Let’s put it to you this way. The recent PGA Championship held at Bethpage Black was 7,459 yards, and many complained that it was too long. That should tell you that it’s a tee box for Justin Thomas or Tiger Woods, who average 301 yards on tour. Let’s remember, they hit the fairway 60% of the time or more. What’s your driving accuracy for those 300-yard drives?

Tee it Forward is about picking the correct tees for your average driving distance. (The real one, not what you tell your friends.) By playing the correct set of tees, you have a chance to play the course in the way it was intended when designed.

If you play the correct tees, you will have more approach shots with a 6 or 7 iron rather than a hybrid or fairway wood. You will have more chances of hitting greens in regulation. (Par minus 2, so a Par 4 is hit in regulation if you are on the green in 2.)

All of this translates to fewer strokes, less time, and less frustration. You will never give your short game the attention it deserves if it took you eight strokes to get there! By then, you are already frustrated and ready to pick up your ball.

On our local courses, at around 5,600 yards, the red tees are appropriate for those whose average drive is about 200 yards or more.

Similarly, at 6,000 to 6,400 yards, the white tees , or second-shortest tees, depending on the course, are appropriate for those who can drive further than 225 yards.

For those of you who are long ball hitters, the furthest back tees are ready for you when you can drive 250 yards.

Remember, golf is harder when you make it harder. Suffering is optional. Tee it forward for more fun! 

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