Make This The Golf Season You Play The Correct Tees

Make This The Golf Season You Play The Correct Tees Pictured: Torrey Pines tee marker

Make This The Golf Season You Play The Correct Tees

What tees should you play on your next round of golf to have more fun?

Chances are you are not playing the correct tees, and thus are paying a price. Playing from incorrect tees is costing you time and costing you unnecessary strokes. It just also might be making golf less fun than it should be.

This is the season to have more fun.

Playing from the wrong tees — i.e. tees that are too far back for your game — creates a host of cascading problems, none of which are enjoyable (unless you enjoy frustration and stress).

To compensate for the extra distance, the impulse is to try for more off the tee, leading to missed fairways, resulting in extra shots and extra time. Even when fairways are found, the longer approaches lead to more missed greens, once again resulting in extra shots and extra time. Long approaches that hit the green, are less likely to be close. That means more putts and more time.

It all adds up.

The average time for a round of golf now approaches four and a half hours. That’s an hour more than the R&A’s pace of play manual recommends. Golf magazine has calculated that a foursome should take three hours 47 minutes.

Make This The Golf Season You Play The Correct Tees pictured birch tree tee

Further, in spite of all the advances in equipment and coaching, the average golf score is where it has been since the 1960s: 100.

There is some weird masochistic machismo at work with players who insist on playing tees too far back for their skill set.

Are you out to have fun — or are you out to try prove your manhood? Why would anyone pay good money to spend four hours being frustrated (you know who you are; I’ve seen you slam clubs and heard you curse; you are not having fun) The vast majority of us are never going to play in a high end USGA tournament, let alone go pro. So why not move up and have some more fun?

A man’s got to know his limitations

To quote the great Detective Harry Callahan: A man’s got to know his limitations.

So what tees should you play?

The least scientific method is to simply play the tees from which your second shot on a typical par four is with a mid- or short-iron. If your second shot always has you pitching out of trees, you need to move up so you can use a shorter club that lets you be more accurate. If you find yourself hitting long irons and hybrids you need to move up.

A more mathematically grounded method is to multiply your average distance with the five iron by 36. Play the tees whose distance is closest to that product.

If you hit your five iron 160 yards on average, the correct tees are those closest to 5, 760 yards. If 170, play the correct tees closest to 6, 120.

To make this work, however, you need to be honest about the distance. That is a big hurdle for a lot of players. While on occasion you may hit your five iron an impressive distance, it is the average that matters. That means you must include the less than good shots as well as the stellar ones.

Here’s a clue: if you find your approach shot regularly falling short, or just squeaking past the front edge of the green, you likely overestimate your distances.

Another measure is based on driver distance. Unfortunately, golfers are even more unrealistic about their driving distance average than they are their irons averages. Studies have shown that the average golfer thinks he hits the ball 20 yards further than he actually does.

That said, a good formula for calculating the proper tees from your driver distance is to multiply the average drive distance by 28. The average golfer hits his driver 216 yards. Golfers with a 21+ handicap average 177.

That means the average golfer should tee it up at right around 6,000 yards. The correct tees for higher handicappers is closer to 5,000 yards.

If you are not regularly threatening 80 from the tees you play, move up. Once you get to the point where you can get to 80 from those tees, move back and see how it goes.

You will have more fun. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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