Tee Selection for Dummies By Ron Gaines, GAM Handicap Chair


At times during handicap seminars, I feel as if I’m at the Capitol Building listening to lobbyists putting forth an
agenda. Right or wrong, on target or misdirected, everyone has an opinion.


Because our seminars are attended by course owners, handicap chairs, club professionals, and golfers of every ability, open discussions can become … shall we say, “spirited.” More often than not, the topic turns to rounds played, how to increase them, and how to help each golfer have a more enjoyable experience.

From a handicapping point of view, encouraging golfers to play from the right set of tees would greatly help. Easily said, not so easily done.

Drop Your Gender Policy
In the case of tees, it’s time to drop the gender so we can all have more fun.

One thing is for sure: If you want to put more rounds through your course — and speed up play — call the forward tees anything but “red.” To the stubborn male, especially the stubborn senior male, red means one thing — women’s tees.

Tobacco Road, a Sanford, N.C., course designed by Mike Strantz, was the first course I played that didn’t have tee boxes set up by color. They used farm implements to designate all the tee boxes, effectively taking gender out of the equation. Each tee box was rated for both sexes, so there was no “red” stigma related to any tee.

It never ceases to amaze me how much emotion and misconception comes with trying to get golfers to play from tees best suited to their game. Senior men will even play from a tee box forward of the red tees, just to avoid the stigma of playing from the “women’s tees.”

Are You Playing the Correct Tees?
There are many theories about who should play from which tee box. Three components should help you make the decision about which tees are best for you — distance, course rating, and slope rating. The game of golf is tough enough as it is, but it can be exponentially more difficult by adding distance to the course. Many amateur golfers (especially men) try to play from tees that are too long. It’s not uncommon to see a group of guys teeing off from the championship tees, only to hit weak slices into the woods. Don’t be one of these people — it’s not good for scoring, or pace of play. There’s no shame in playing from a forward set of tees if that is appropriate for your game.

Scoring and having a good time go hand-in-hand. If you are coming down the 18th fairway saying, “Boy, I’d like to play another nine holes,” as opposed to, “Thank God it’s over,” you’re probably playing from the correct tees.
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