Building A Shorter Golf Course

A brief exchange with the folks at 3UP golf last week got me thinking about an idea that has been percolating in my head for quite some time: creating courses-within-courses for juniors, seniors, the differently-abled and others who cannot routinely hit the ball more than 180 off the tee (and that is quite a lot of players).

The basic idea is that on every par four and par five hole, courses would create Super Forward sets of tees ranging from 150 to 250 yards in length.

Tee boxes for the super forward tees need not be complicated, or alter the basic course design. In most cases, a teeing ground could be created just off the fairway in the first cut at angles that would create interesting shots. In places where there is no such location, a teeing ground in the fairway could be sbstituted. I don’t think that would happen very often, though. As I have mentally run through my most familiar courses, I can imagine quite a number of super-forward tee locations.


The above photo is an example of how such a hole would work. It is a 414 yard par 4 at Green Oaks in Ypsilanti, Michigan. My proposed super short tees would be located behind the large tree on the left side of the fairway, about 180 yards to the green. A shorter hitter would need to carry thirty yards of rough at an angle to the fairway. From the landing zone, the ideal second shot would be a wedge to the green. A direct shot at the green would be risky because of the necessity of playing over a tree on a direct line to the green.

That’s a fun hole.

On those rare holes when an off-fairway tee shot is not available, an area could be marked on the fairway itself, using paint, such as is used in drop zones. That would avoid the possibility of a tee shot hitting an above-ground marker.

A side benefit of the super-forward tees is that they would in effect create a par three course within the boundaries of the regulation eighteen. I can see all sorts of possibilities for this, such as par three outings and special events.

The main benefit, however, is that shorter hitters would no longer have to play par fours as par fives and par five as sixes. It would both speed up pay and make the game more fun for a wider range of players. Even slightly better players could use the tees, unashamedly claim that they are playing the course as a par three, rather than a full blown 72. In an ideal world, the USGA would figure out a way to issue handicaps for the super-forward tees.

The PGA of America, USGA and other golf organizations are looking for ways to broaden golf’s appeal. GolfBlogger’s Super Forward Tees could do that with minimal investment from courses.

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7 thoughts on “Building A Shorter Golf Course”

  1. One of the things lacking at my course is kids tees.  We are going to be having kids/family tees placed on at least one of our courses and have it rated appropriately.

    This is something that the PGA and US Kids Golf are partnering on.

    When I take my 9y/o daughter on the course, it used to be a struggle to get her to use a forward teeing location since the course didn’t have any marked.  She wanted to go from the women’s tees and would be insulted if I tried to get her to go from the 150, or if I let her go from Red, it would take too many shots to get to the green.  Now she understands that she has a decent chance of actually winning a hole if I start from the mens tees and she starts +/- 20 yards from the 150.

  2. Montgomery County Golf has been putting US Kids golf plates in the fairways for youth tee marks.  They’ve also been doing some outings where they route a 9 hole course over all 18 to appeal to the long hitters.  However I really like the idea of the par 3 course which is inherent in every course.  It might even help their revenue model, they could go to “par 3” instead of twilight for late afternoon early evening offerings.

  3. I’ve seen some clever designs for par-3s and executive lengths within regulation courses. The argument against them is increased costs with little increase in revenue.

    Ideas like the bigger-hole are more publicly advanced because they’re relatively cheap. The problem is that they’re cheap.

    Perhaps the USGA ought to be throwing some of my membership dues into funding or subsidizing experiments like forward tees or novel short-course in-designs at municipal and lower level public courses.

  4. Just use the new Hybrid MD golf ball from forward up tees. Designed for use on shorter courses…solves the whole problem and makes the game fun!


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