Shorter Is Sweeter
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My foursome is thinking about a golf getaway to one of the great Pinehurst area golf courses. Just a couple of days of nothing but playing golf, enjoying some good food and lying about our scores.
So we check out the website for one that has a great international reputation and we learn some hard, cold facts. The information lists the course of our choice as playing to 7,154 yards and boasts a rating of 74.2.
Are you kidding me? The average age of our group is 74.2. We’re looking for some fun golf, not two days of torture. We know there are tees that will allow us to play from a shorter distance, but nowhere on the site can we find yardage from those shorter tees.
Golf courses all over the country are bemoaning the lack of people showing up for rounds these days. Many of those courses may have at least a partial answer to those missing tee times within easy grasp: Just get smart and rearrange the teeing areas.
Everyone knows that the average age of golfers has been rising for years. Club professionals who remain at golf facilities for a number of years have watched the gray factor creep in. They’ve also seen many members become frustrated and lose interest when age or disabilities steal length from their games.
And yet, many of those same clubs haven’t done a thing to keep those aging members competitive.
The same is true for the average women players. They tee it up from the “red” tees, which may allow them to land their best drives almost as far as the men hit theirs. But then what happens? The guy pulls out a 7-iron and hits to the center of the green. The woman pulls out a fairway metal and hopes to get it close enough to the green to chip on and have a putt to save par.
Golf courses are waking up to this fact, and many are doing something about it by creating shorter tees. Super senior tee placements are becoming common, allowing older players to enjoy the game again. If, that is, they can swallow their pride and move up to tees that allow them to hit short or medium irons into the greens again.
The ego of the average male golfer often does not allow him to play from tees that are more suited for his game. He may be 70 years old, but he insists on teeing it up with the guy who’s turning 30 next week.
Barney Adams, the founder of Adams Tight Lies golf clubs and one of the game’s innovators, advocates in an article in Fairways Golf what he calls the “Tour Length” layout, which gives average players the opportunity to play from tees that allow them to experience the holes much as Tour players do.
“Distilling commentary on the Internet, we learn that golf has become too time-demanding, too expensive and too frustrating’” he writes. “I agree with the comment on time, but consider the argument on expense. Paying money to be aggravated and frustrated is not exactly logical. Change that to enjoyable and rewarding, and the expense argument weakens considerably.”
Adams takes it further, as we paraphrase: “I’ve tested the theory with my friends and come to the conclusion that it’s the misconception and our ego reaction to the front tees when it should really be only about Tour Length. It’s incorrectly looked at as a senior movement as we ‘old’ guys move up.
“I’m encouraging the PGA of America to make this their legacy. Use their golf skills to set up courses with a set of Tour Length tees and educate members to use tees suited for their games. Use the 230-yard drive as a base on those Tour Length tees, give us second shots of 160 on down, make some par-5s reachable in two, nothing that Tour players don’t experience in every event.
“Magazines are flush with articles on how to get core golfers playing more and new people into the game. Yes, come on, let’s all play from the equivalent of 7,500 yards to 8,300 yards, taking an inordinate amount of time and being hellishly frustrated. It’s a credit to the great game that more people haven’t quit.
“I did the same analysis for women and came up with Tour Length courses at 4,200 to 4,600 yards. Maybe at those distances women wouldn’t drop out as they have over the years. Maybe puting them on Tour Length courses will allow them to enjoy golf, play faster and stick with the game.
“Some golf writers have written about playing shorter courses and the response has been essentially nil. This isn’t about shorter tees; it’s about a Tour Length layout.
“I sincerely hope the PGA of America, aided by all the concerned bodies, uses its influence to install Tour Length as a renaissance in golf. It needs it. We need it.”
Contact Howard Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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