One of the reasons scores are so high—and rounds so long—is that too many weekenders play from the wrong tees. Playing from the back tees might be manly, but often makes little sense. If you have to consistently make heroic drives to have a decent chance at greens in regulation, or if you find yourself playing long irons and woods into every par four, chances are the course is too long from those tees.
Forcing yourself to hit those extra yards causes more missed fairways. Drives that fall too far from the green force the use of long irons and fairway woods, resulting in missed greens in regulation, and pile up strokes with costly chips, flubbed flops and multiple shots out of greenside bunkers. Long shots into the green leave players far from the hole, requiring extra putts.
One rule of thumb is to play from the tees that give you a decent chance at using a mid or short iron on the par 4s. That requires that you have a realistic understanding of how far you hit your clubs.
If your typical driver shot is 220 yards, and your six iron goes 170, then on a par 4, you should play from the tees that are closest to 390 from the green.
Another way to assess the proper length is to use the Rule of 28, as described by Chris Mile, owner of the Miles of Golf pro shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Mile says that to find the proper tees, you should multiply your average driving distance by 28. That’ll give you the yardage that you should play from; choose the tees closest to that distance.
This means that a player who hits the ball 200 yards on a drive should play from the tees closest to 5,600 yards.
I use the 200 yard drive figure deliberately. Studies have consistently shown that the average golfer drives the ball 200 yards, but THINKS he hits it 30 yards further. And remember that it’s the AVERAGE that counts. Occasionally uncorking a 270 yarder is not the same as hitting for an average of 270. You also have to consider all the times you don’t hit it that far.
This tip is an excerpt from The Five Inch Course: Thinking Your Way To Better Golf. The complete book is available in Kindle and paperback format at Amazon.com.