Do You Play From the Right Set of Tees?

[Note: This post has been superceded by Do You Play From the Right Set of Tees-Part 4]

Golf is a difficult game. Regardless of the better clubs and balls we get to play with, you still have to hit the ball straight. And then there’s distance. Even though everyone is hitting the ball farther than they did twenty years ago, most golfers play a course that is too long for their ability.

Think back a bit. On your home course, how many greens do you hit short irons into? 7-iron on down. My home course is 6,402 yards from the white tees. I hit a short iron into three greens on average, five on a good day. How about you? Think about it, write it down. If the answer is just a few, you’re playing from tees that are too long. You’re making the game harder for yourself than it should be.

How long should a course be that you play on? Let’s find out by looking at courses the pros play on. On the PGA tour, 7,200 yards is a representative length of a tournament course. PGA pros average 290 yards off the tee. If you divide 7,200 by 290, you get 24.8. We’ll call it 25, to make the math easier.

Now, the LPGA. The average driving distance on that tour is about 260 yards. 260 yards times 25 equals 6,500 yards. Sure enough, the women play on courses measuring from 6,400 to 6,600 yards, which is just where they should be.

How about you? Multiply your average driving distance by 25. Say it’s 235 yards, carry plus roll. 235 yards times 25 is 5,875 yards. If you were to play from the whites on my home course, that’s a course almost 9 percent longer.

Nine percent doesn’t sound like much, does it? Yet it’s equivalent to the men on tour playing courses averaging 7,850 yards. Or the women on tour playing courses measuring 7,100 yards, and that’s the handicap you’re giving yourself right now.

Ladies, what if your average driving distance is 190 yards? Well you’re kind of stuck. The shortest set of tees on any of the golf courses I play regularly is 5,400 yards. Most of them are over 5,600 yards. That’s an 18 percent increase in distance, twice what we calculated above, over the 4,750-yard course that you should get to play on! No wonder so few women play golf. How much harder can it be made for you?

Recreational golfers have two solutions to this problem. One is for every architect to design tees at distances average men and women can reasonably play from. Not sure when that will happen. The other solution is to find courses, and they’re out there, that have tees at the right distance for you, and play those courses from those tees.

One more note. I have broken 80 six times in my life. Four of those times came one course which measures 5,917 yards from the white tees. I’ve broken 80 on my 6,402-yard home course, which I play much more often, once. See a pattern here? I do.

See Do You Play From the Right Set of Tees, Part 2

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.

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