Dump the Pride, Play It Short
This is the fourth in a series.
Golfers all over the country are paying attention to the USGA and PGA of America’s “Tee It Forward” program and learning that they can enjoy the game more by playing from tees that are fitted to their games.
Finding the correct tees to play from is as important as being fitted for a new set of clubs. Maybe even more so.
While senior men are sometimes reluctant to move up to shorter tees as they age (see ego), women can be just as stubborn. With women, more so than with men, using more forward tees can enhance their game even before the aging process begins to rob them of length.
There are lots of women who can play from “their” tees and score well enough to enjoy the game. But there are many more who go to the course knowing they won’t be able to reach a single par-4 in regulation, can’t reach the par-5s in three shots, and understand that in order for them to have a good day of scoring they’ll have to have a great day with their chipping and putting.
So they go out, shoot 120 and never complain about the fact that they had no chance of putting for a birdie other than on an occasional par-3 hole.
The truth is that doesn’t have to be the case. With the USGA and PGA of America getting behind the cause, more courses around the country are beginning to recognize this problem and take steps to alleviate it.
While men have always enjoyed three or four sets of tees to accommodate various ages and handicaps, women for the most part have been stuck with one set of tees.
If you’re a female who bangs your drives out there 200 yards, that’s great. But if you’re like the average woman golfer who hits her best tee shots little more than 100 yards, you’re in for a long day.
The Carolinas Golf Association uses two sets of tees for its women’s championships, allowing for a Championship Flight and Tournament Flight. This works well for those events because the women playing in them are usually pretty good golfers and enjoy the chance to be competitive at different levels.
But for the everyday golfer who just comes out to the club for a round with her husband or her friends, relief in the way of shorter tees can be a refreshing experience.
Clubs should realize that the more enjoyment a person gets from playing, the more they’re going to play. Shorter tees for women and older men can make the cash register ring more often.
Gene Roberts, the head professional at Seven Lakes Country Club, is one who understands this problem.
“I agree that many courses are too long for average players,” Roberts said. “Seven Lakes identified this problem years ago and designed six sets of tees that accommodate players of all abilities.
“For many years I’ve been trying to get players to move up and play the course where they have an opportunity to score better, and I was met with fierce resistance. Just in the past two years, I’ve noticed a trend and more players are moving up.
“Once they get over the ‘pride’ issue, they enjoy the reality that they can hit greens in regulation and have birdie putts.
“We allow players to compete from different tees in our club tournaments and have been able to continue strong participation. The shortest tees we offer are the green tees and measure 4,106 yards. The red tees for women measure 5,024 yards. The gold tees are 5,403, and then we have three more sets that get longer and more difficult.”
That’s forward thinking by club management, and it pays off with more happy golfers. But even the 4,000-yard tees are too long for some women. If you want to see women golfers, especially the older ones, come in smiling after a round, give them a course playing somewhere around 3,000 yards.
Verne Kroes is a “golden years” golfer in Illinois who reads The Pilot online and is a proponent of the “Tee It Forward” concept.
“I’m 88 years old,” Kroes writes, “in good health and love to play golf. It has been a downer for some time though, since I have lost so much distance.
“I played nine holes with my son the other day (he hits the ball twice as far as I do), I used the forward tees and we had a great game.
“I actually used irons to approach on some of the holes instead of a 3- or 4-wood.”
That’s what it’s all about. Move up to a set of tees where you have the same irons into greens that the professionals have.
Forget the pride factor. Golf can be fun again.
Contact Howard Ward at email@example.com
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