USGA and PGA of America Catch Up With The GolfBlogger—Four Years Later

This week, the PGA of America and the USGA announced a new program called “Tee It Forward,” to encourage golfers to play from the forward tees for more enjoyment and shorter rounds.

You’re a little late to the party guys. I’ve been writing about the need for golfers to pay the proper tees for years. In fact, I made my initial post on the subject in 2008. Here’s part of what I wrote back then:

There’s been a lot of discussion about the reasons for the five hour round. Experts blame practice swings, not playing ready golf, and course routing issues. But I think the principal one is that amateurs are playing from the wrong tees. The simple fact of the matter is that most golfers are not good enough to play from the tips (or even the blues)—and yet so many do.

Here’s why it matters: Playing a short drive from the back tees is going to add at least one shot for fourteen of the eighteen holes on the course. On a par 4, a drive that falls short of the legitimate range of your short to mid irons (wedge to seven) drastically reduces your chance of hitting the green in regulation. You may have the length to cover the distance in two, but with a long iron or wood as your second, chances are that you won’t hit the green. So you end up taking an extra shot or two trying to get up from a greenside bunker or grass.

Further, if you’re forced to hit a driver on every hole to get the distance required, you also increase your chances of landing in the rough, in the trees, or worse. In that case, even if you DO hit it 250 yards, you add a shot getting out of trouble. On a par 5, golfers not only face this risk on the tee shot, but also on the second, where the necessity of playing a long wood to get into scoring range presents a second opportunity to get into trouble.

Then there’s the lost ball issue. When you are forced to constantly hit the big sticks, you’re going to lose balls. And time will be lost looking for them.

All of those shots add up. Assume three minutes for each shot per player (travel time, locating the ball, picking a club practice swings, watching the ball flight, putting the club away, etc.). Multiply that by 14 extra shots per round per player and you’ll find that each player loses 42 minutes to poor tee selection; for the group, that adds up to 168 minutes. Even with some overlap (two players preparing at the same time), and holes where you don’t actually take the extra shot, that adds an hour-and-a-half to two hours to a round.

Poor tee selection thus explains the five to six hour round very neatly.

And this wasn’t my only post on the subject. I’ve written about this numerous times.

It’s good to know that this (not so) humble Golf Blogger is four years ahead of the big boys. If you’re reading this at the USGA or the PGA of America, I’ve got a few other ideas for the good of the game that I’d be willing to share with you. Give me a call.

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