Would you continue to play golf if your two best shots were not long enough to reach the green on a par 4? Many golf facilities are recognizing that high-handicap golfers and golfers with slower swing speeds playing from their most forward tees face a challenge that is disproportionately more difficult compared to the tees played by golfers with higher swing speeds or lower-handicaps. However, the installation of further forward tees is met with skepticism by some and optimism by others. Is your course disproportionately more difficult for high-handicap golfers or golfers with slower swing speeds? If so, implementing forward tees at your course might be easier than you think.
The Need is There
There is a great need for shorter golf courses. Below are a few facts gathered from the USGA and other sources on how players with slower swing speeds play the game.
- 86 percent of female golfers in the USGA GHIN have a handicap index of 15.0 or higher.[i]
- The average carry distance with a driver for a female with a 15.0 handicap index is 149 yards.[ii] Higher-handicap players will hit the ball a shorter distance, on average.
- The longest par 4 that a female player with a handicap index between 21.5 and 26.4 can reach in two shots is 280 yards.[iii]
- The PGA of America recommends a course yardage of 4,000 – 4,200 yards for players with swing speeds of 65 miles per hour or average drives of 140 yards.[iv] The forward tees at most golf courses are much longer than 4,200 yards.
By understanding the points above, it should be clear whether your most forward tees are too long for the majority of players with slower swing speeds.
Install Forward Tees
Installing forward tees can be as simple as finding flat areas in the fairway or as elaborate as building a new tee. In most cases, your course will be best served by incorporating a set of tees within the fairway. Ideally, new tee locations should be located to allow a favorable line of play – meaning tees may need to be established away from cart paths to avoid obstacles like trees and bunkers that may otherwise interfere with the line of play.
Update Course Rating
One of the great aspects of golf’s handicap system is the ability for players of different skill level to have a fair match. Contact your state or regional golf association to have new forward tees rated so that golfers playing from them will be able to submit scores to establish a USGA handicap.
Move Up, Not Out
Golf is a game for a lifetime. Imagine the enjoyment of a boy or girl learning the game on a much shorter course and being able to reach par-4 holes in two shots; or the thrill of an older player making pars and birdies after being on the brink of giving up the game because the course was too long. Installing forward tees to create a proportional challenge is not difficult and may be a great way to not only retain golfers but also recruit new ones.
[iii] USGA Handicap Manual