PGA, USGA Open Push for Short Courses
This story is the third in a series.
Want to enjoy golf again? Want to hit medium and short irons into par-4 greens again? Want to be able to reach medium-length par-5s in two and stand over an eagle putt one more time?
It can happen. The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association, spurred by a recent concept put forth by Barney Adams, president of Adams Golf, are now on board with a program called “Tee it Forward” as an incentive to be proposed for golf facilities nationwide.
The program encourages golfers to play the course at a length that is aligned with their average driving distance. This will not only speed up play, but provide the greatest playability and enjoyment.
The PGA unveiled its promotion of the program at the Senior PGA Championship, and the USGA will feature it at both the Men’s and Women’s U.S. Opens in June.
“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 more golf.”
Adams suggested that 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. With more golfers hitting approach shots with 6- or 7-irons instead of hybrids and long irons, the chance for enjoyment is increased.
“The passion that golfers have for our game has the potential to be enhanced,” said USGA President Jim Hyler, of Raleigh. “This is an innovation that we think will appeal to golfers of all skill levels because it gives them a new challenge that better aligns with their abilities.”
The program is not necessarily about creating a new set of tees. It’s about changing the mindset of golfers in a positive way, encouraging them to consider moving up from tees that play 6,500-6,700 yards to tees that play 6,000-5,800 yards.
A course that measures 6,700 yards for amateurs is equivalent to one that is 8,100 yards for the typical PGA Tour player.
Jack Nicklaus is on board with the concept. “I love the game of golf, but I will be the first to tell you that there are things about our game we need to improve,” Nicklaus said in the report. “Tee it Forward is the first of many initiatives we have discussed, and I think families around the country will enjoy alternate formats like this to make the game more fun.
“All of us deeply involved in the game constantly encourage golfers of all skill levels to play the proper tees, but too often they want to bite off as much of the golf course as they can. What ends up suffering is their scorecard and their overall enjoyment.”
Bobby Runk, the author of two golf books, “How to Line Up Your Fourth Putt” and “When to Regrip Your Ball Retriever,” agrees that shorter can be more fun.
“You are absolutely right on target with the connection between course length, the aging of the current population of golfers, and the diminishing frequency of play at clubs all over,” Runk said of an earlier article in this space. “I can’t remember how many times I’ve thought as I grew older, ‘Darn, it would be great to see the green for a second shot from where the pros see it.’ But I never articulated this desire, nor did I consider the idea of a ‘Tour Length’ layout. Let’s hope you and Barney Adams can turn the situation around.”
The Tee it Forward program offers a recommended yardage chart for various levels of golfers. While many courses have already made efforts to accommodate older golfers and women with distance concerns, hardly any have gone to the extreme as recommended in the chart that follows.
This chart is based on how far the golfer hits his or her ball on an average with the driver.
Driver distance: PGA Tour Professional — 7,600-7,900 yards; 300 yards — 7,150-7,400; 275 yards — 6,700-6.900; 250 yards — 6,200-6,400; 225 yards — 5,800-6,000; 200 yards — 5,200-5,400; 175 yards — 4,400-4,600; 150 yards — 3,500-3,700; 125 yards — 3,800-3,000; 100 yards — 2,100-2,300.
If the program catches on with golf courses and golfers, there figures to be a lot more smiles at the end of rounds.
Contact Howard Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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