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Sensible way to calculate what tees I should be playing?


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Disclaimer - I have no aspirations to be a serious competitive golfer and I don't play golf purely to "test" myself. Also, the analysis below only accounts for distance and not other items such as (1) tightness of fairway or other landing zone (2) length of rough (3) speed of greens (4) complexity of greens (5) course layout etc. A lot of things left out, this is purely distance. 

As such, I have become fascinated with how many casual golfers I see play from the back tees at the golf courses I frequent. Mind you, it is everyone's right (within pace of play constraints) to play the tees they want and I am not suggesting taking that away. Rather, there seems to be a lot of ego in choosing tees and I am trying to re-frame this calculation by comparing the tour and their average distances versus a casual golf (in this case, mine, where I consider myself below average on distance as a 37 year old man). I took several tour stops at par 72 courses (ex. TPC Louisiana (Zurich), TPC San Antonio - Oaks (Valero)) and calculated their average par 3 (210 yds), par 4 (430 yds), par 5 (580 yds) distances. Then I tried to find some avg distances for tour players for Driver, 3W, 5i, 8i, SW to determine what their relative advantage is to me (distance-wise). Driving Distance for a tour player appears to be around 300 yds and mine (based on Arccos) is about 240 yds. So I am giving up at least 60 yds off the tee and then about 30 yds on an approach shot (7i vs 7i). So in reality I give up 90-100 yds to a tour player on an average par 4. So if their average par 4 is 430 mine should be 340. For par 3s I calculated that my average par 3 should be about 175 (seems LONG) vs a tour players avg 3 of 210 since I give up about 35 yds on a typical 5i shot. Avg Par 5 on tour of 580 would equate to 470 for me since I give up 60 yds on driver and 50 yds on a 3W. So (340 * 10) + (480 * 4) + (175 * 4) = 6,000 yds should be my top end. If a tour player that practices all the time and isn't expected to have more than a short iron in on most par 4s why would a recreational golfer? These guys are being "tested" for millions of $$$ and they frequently have driver + SW into at least a few par 4s and reach a good deal of par 5s in two. The main outlier I discovered is that the par 3s seem (relative to the other holes) to be fairly long on tour. 

So, in summary, this has a lot of flaws but I think is a better way than "take your 5i and multiply it by 36" which would say I should play a 6,480 yd course. I can survive on a 6,400 yd course but I will not be reaching any of the par 5s even with 2 perfect shots and I would likely have less fun there than I would at 6,000 or 5,900 yds. Just something I have been thinking about lately and especially when I watch the tour and how it seems their courses are shorter relative to their distance than the courses I play. 

Do this make sense to anyone else? 

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I'm a member at a private club. I play there every week (I do play other courses too). So being north of 60 and having played the men's white tees at 6300 yards for years (hundreds of rounds) it got b

Play what will give you most enjoyment. Lots of people think hitting driver and then wedge is "boring" on a par 4 or needing to hit less than driver off the tee as if they are not getting their money'

Disclaimer - I have no aspirations to be a serious competitive golfer and I don't play golf purely to "test" myself. Also, the analysis below only accounts for distance and not other items such as (1)

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It makes sense but too complicated.  5i x 36 is “easy” but you can adjust if that distance doesn’t work.  Golfers that want to can figure out the correct tees; the problem is a players ego and their need to play the tips. 

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I agree it is a lot of steps to go through. And agree with the ego, almost no one I play golf with can carry the ball more than 250 yds with their driver. Most of them would NEVER consider playing less than 6,400 yds and I guess, relative to their distance, they are giving themselves longer approach shots than is expected at a generic PGA tour stop. That seems crazy. 

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seems like after a few rounds playing the back tees and losing over a dozen balls you'd think people would change...

IMHO courses need to add a "mixed tees" or "members tees" option

Let people play from the back on the par 5s <<ego>> and some of the 4s but have them play forward on the 3s. That seems to be where most ego-driven people get into trouble. Not a lot of weekend warriors can par a 185+ par 3 on a regular basis. especially if you add any water or wind to the picture...

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The group I play with uses a modified Stableford system ( 1 point for bogey, 2 for par, 3 for birdie, 5 for eagle). In essence, this means it doesn’t matter which tees you play from but we decided to make the tees age based with people moving up at ages 60 and 70. Here comes the interesting part. A few years ago, we started letting people “pay” 3 strokes to move up a set of tees. About half the guys did so. Point is, they recognized they would have more fun playing shorter tees, ego be damned. 

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Most tees have suggested handicaps on them. I don’t understand the allure of always playing the tips. I do hit my driver 300 and will play whatever tees the group wants to. Granted, I enjoy tips more because I get to hit driver more, but it’s still a fun round from whatever tees I play. 

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My old local muni had some chart based on Driver distance matching the USGA's Tee it forward program.  It's a good starting point. Following this, I should've played the back tees at that course, but I didn't because I was just happy to get out and play, so I played the next tee up. If you aren't too keen on a score for handicap, you could just play different tees based on the hole, as I'm not sure how ratings change when the tees aren't consistent. 

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Honestly, as long as you aren't impacting pace of play it doesn't really matter to me what tees people play. The problem is a lot of people play the tips and then end up playing like molasses. 

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I agree but when I started playing it was almost like the idea of playing the "senior tees" or whatever the shortest tees are after the forward tees was a crazy notion. Everyone I played with just always played the men's standard tees which is usually one up from the tips at the Municipals, even though we were all terrible golfers. So for me, having played for a while now I don't see why more people don't look at like they need to "earn" the right to play back. Like can you shoot even par or better from the forward tees (it is harder for most people than you might think)? Great, go do it and then you move back a set of tees. I know not everyone is out to break par but just imagine if this was the system. I can say that the majority of random people I have been paired up with at the golf course would never graduate from the forward tees. Golf is always going to be hard and I'm not saying it should be made as easy as possible but I have played with guys that can barely swing a club and there is never even a whisper of telling them they should play from the forward tees. Maybe there should be? Like if you are picking up your ball on more than 3 holes, one I appreciate you doing that to keep the pace moving along, but two maybe you are playing the wrong tees (or possibly golf course)?

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8 minutes ago, vandyland said:

I agree but when I started playing it was almost like the idea of playing the "senior tees" or whatever the shortest tees are after the forward tees was a crazy notion. Everyone I played with just always played the men's standard tees which is usually one up from the tips at the Municipals, even though we were all terrible golfers. So for me, having played for a while now I don't see why more people don't look at like they need to "earn" the right to play back. Like can you shoot even par or better from the forward tees (it is harder for most people than you might think)? Great, go do it and then you move back a set of tees. I know not everyone is out to break par but just imagine if this was the system. I can say that the majority of random people I have been paired up with at the golf course would never graduate from the forward tees. Golf is always going to be hard and I'm not saying it should be made as easy as possible but I have played with guys that can barely swing a club and there is never even a whisper of telling them they should play from the forward tees. Maybe there should be? Like if you are picking up your ball on more than 3 holes, one I appreciate you doing that to keep the pace moving along, but two maybe you are playing the wrong tees (or possibly golf course)?

I agree. Beat a certain score and move back. 

I've never been told or heard anyone say move up. I did almost drive a green on a par 4 and have someone tell me to move back though...still took a par. Short game needs work. 

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1 hour ago, cnosil said:

 the problem is a players ego and their need to play the tips. 

Correct - wife and I were playing behind a 4some 2 weeks ago. Three out of the four (young) guys are hitting from 6300 yd. tees with their drives going maybe 120 yds. Army style (left-right-left) and waiting for the green to clear before hitting their 2nd shot😱. Their golf Saturday would have been a lot more fun hitting from 5600 yd tee box, but of course, those are considered the senior tees. 

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Just now, tony@CIC said:

Correct - wife and I were playing behind a 4some 2 weeks ago. Three out of the four (young) guys are hitting from 6300 yd. tees with their drives going maybe 120 yds. Army style (left-right-left) and waiting for the green to clear before hitting their 2nd shot😱. Their golf Saturday would have been a lot more fun hitting from 5600 yd tee box, but of course, those are considered the senior tees. 

The waiting for the green to clear on a par 5 is the best. 

"Excuse me sir, but the green is 280 yards away and you hit your tee shot 260. Are you sure you can reach it in two?"

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I certainly don't understand the need to play the tips. Does it make your green fee cheaper the more yards you play?

My course has 5 sets of tees and you'll never see me going to the tips voluntarily. Hell, I play the middle ones every week and only move to the 4th when the tournament dictates it. It's just stupidly discouraging having to hit a FW/hybrid onto every green lol

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1 hour ago, Hook DeLoft said:

The group I play with uses a modified Stableford system ( 1 point for bogey, 2 for par, 3 for birdie, 5 for eagle). In essence, this means it doesn’t matter which tees you play from but we decided to make the tees age based with people moving up at ages 60 and 70. Here comes the interesting part. A few years ago, we started letting people “pay” 3 strokes to move up a set of tees. About half the guys did so. Point is, they recognized they would have more fun playing shorter tees, ego be damned. 

So when you’re group plays you aren’t basing it off handicap or a percentage of the handicap to determine points needed or something along those lines?

the group I used to play with uses handicap minus 36 (based on the old handicap system) to determine the number of points needed to get back to zero. So a 13 hdcp would would need 23 points to be even and a 23 would only need 13.

 

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Very good stuff.  You are right EGO is the key.  How far do you hit your drive?   270-280....No probably about 220-230.  One of the biggest problems. 

  I think some of the "stigma" of playing closer tee boxes could be alleviated. This is my idea. I would like to see courses have one of tees that are, NOT RATED, OR SLOPED FOR WHATEVER THAT PURPOSE IS(Maybe you could I really don't know).   The "PURPLE" tees we'll call them will be between 5800-6200 yards.  The key is that the markers will be moved around, giving holes different looks, because your using different tee boxes, than one color all the time, which is always in the same general location,  but stay within the yardage range.  In this way it will give the course a different look. One week the par 3 may be 135, the next week it may be at the tips and be 185.  But this week the 380 yard par 4 may be drivable because your using the teebox on the other side of the pond.

Sadly I'm not sure there is any cure for "Tips Guy", who walks back barely in view, and duck hooks his drive into the woods, 30 yards to the left off the tips box.

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1 minute ago, stuka44 said:

Very good stuff.  You are right EGO is the key.  How far do you hit your drive?   270-280....No probably about 220-230.  One of the biggest problems. 

  I think some of the "stigma" of playing closer tee boxes could be alleviated. This is my idea. I would like to see courses have one of tees that are, NOT RATED, OR SLOPED FOR WHATEVER THAT PURPOSE IS(Maybe you could I really don't know).   The "PURPLE" tees we'll call them will be between 5800-6200 yards.  The key is that the markers will be moved around, giving holes different looks, because your using different tee boxes, than one color all the time, which is always in the same general location,  but stay within the yardage range.  In this way it will give the course a different look. One week the par 3 may be 135, the next week it may be at the tips and be 185.  But this week the 380 yard par 4 may be drivable because your using the teebox on the other side of the pond.

Sadly I'm not sure there is any cure for "Tips Guy", who walks back barely in view, and duck hooks his drive into the woods, 30 yards to the left off the tips box.

Maybe part of the problem is "Tips Guy" is always tipsy...

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On 5/3/2021 at 3:16 PM, RickyBobby_PR said:

So when you’re group plays you aren’t basing it off handicap or a percentage of the handicap to determine points needed or something along those lines?

the group I used to play with uses handicap minus 36 (based on the old handicap system) to determine the number of points needed to get back to zero. So a 13 hdcp would would need 23 points to be even and a 23 would only need 13.

 

Our system is basically the same, just without official handicaps. Points needed by each player are based on past performance.  When someone joins the group, his points are not counted toward the team score.  We've found that new players are sometimes way off in stating a handicap or average score. The next time he plays, his quota is the number of points he made the first time he played with us.  After that, if a player makes 3 more points than his quota, his points for the next game go up one.  If he makes 6 more points, his quota goes up by 2 points.  If 9, then it goes up by 3 points.  3 points is the maximum number of points the quota can change after a game.  The same steps apply for points going down, i.e. your quota goes down by one for every 3 points under your quota, with a max adjustment of 3 points.  Over time, it amounts to a pretty accurate average of your scores.  The winning team is the one that exceeds its points by the highest number.  For example, if the combined quota of a team's 4 players is 100 and it scores 110 points, it is "plus 10" and will win over a team whose quota was 108 points and scored 112, for a "plus 4”.  One of the things I like about it is a poor player can make a positive contribution to the team's score.  If a player is down for 8 points (his average would be 28 over par) and he has a good day and makes 14 points, then he has really helped the team.  Conversely, if a player is down for 34 points (average score of 74) and makes 28 points, his poor play is reflected in the team score.  And, yes, we used to have a regular who was down for 8 points.  Worst player I've ever seen who played at least weekly.  But, he was a pleasant partner and the structure of the game meant no one minded having him on the team.  Oh, and since there are no points awarded for a double bogey, we pick up after bogey.  That keeps the game moving along.

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I kind of like the idea of "earning" the right to play longer tees.  I would make the goal a little easier, say the ability to break 80 from the tees you're playing before moving back.  However, I can see no way of enforcing such an idea.  Years ago, playing as a single, I fell in with a foursome that was doing it correctly.  There were 2 young guys who could hit it a mile.  They were playing from the tips.  One of their fathers was playing from the senior tees and one's wife was playing from the front tees.  I played from the regular tees at the time, so we had someone playing from each of 4 tee boxes and we moved around quickly.

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3 hours ago, jddaigneault said:

Honestly, as long as you aren't impacting pace of play it doesn't really matter to me what tees people play. The problem is a lot of people play the tips and then end up playing like molasses. 

Yea, I think this should be the first consideration.  Good players taking an extra shot here and there because they chose to play longer tees is no big deal, but I see far too many people, who spray balls all over the place, playing back tees, and creating traffic jams.  

In answer to the OP's question, I like to choose tees that give me a reasonable chance at reaching at least one of the par 5's in 2.  Not all courses afford this, but a good many do and I find works for me.  Usually that ends up being 5900-6300 yards.

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5 hours ago, vandyland said:

Disclaimer - I have no aspirations to be a serious competitive golfer and I don't play golf purely to "test" myself. Also, the analysis below only accounts for distance and not other items such as (1) tightness of fairway or other landing zone (2) length of rough (3) speed of greens (4) complexity of greens (5) course layout etc. A lot of things left out, this is purely distance. 

As such, I have become fascinated with how many casual golfers I see play from the back tees at the golf courses I frequent. Mind you, it is everyone's right (within pace of play constraints) to play the tees they want and I am not suggesting taking that away. Rather, there seems to be a lot of ego in choosing tees and I am trying to re-frame this calculation by comparing the tour and their average distances versus a casual golf (in this case, mine, where I consider myself below average on distance as a 37 year old man). I took several tour stops at par 72 courses (ex. TPC Louisiana (Zurich), TPC San Antonio - Oaks (Valero)) and calculated their average par 3 (210 yds), par 4 (430 yds), par 5 (580 yds) distances. Then I tried to find some avg distances for tour players for Driver, 3W, 5i, 8i, SW to determine what their relative advantage is to me (distance-wise). Driving Distance for a tour player appears to be around 300 yds and mine (based on Arccos) is about 240 yds. So I am giving up at least 60 yds off the tee and then about 30 yds on an approach shot (7i vs 7i). So in reality I give up 90-100 yds to a tour player on an average par 4. So if their average par 4 is 430 mine should be 340. For par 3s I calculated that my average par 3 should be about 175 (seems LONG) vs a tour players avg 3 of 210 since I give up about 35 yds on a typical 5i shot. Avg Par 5 on tour of 580 would equate to 470 for me since I give up 60 yds on driver and 50 yds on a 3W. So (340 * 10) + (480 * 4) + (175 * 4) = 6,000 yds should be my top end. If a tour player that practices all the time and isn't expected to have more than a short iron in on most par 4s why would a recreational golfer? These guys are being "tested" for millions of $$$ and they frequently have driver + SW into at least a few par 4s and reach a good deal of par 5s in two. The main outlier I discovered is that the par 3s seem (relative to the other holes) to be fairly long on tour. 

So, in summary, this has a lot of flaws but I think is a better way than "take your 5i and multiply it by 36" which would say I should play a 6,480 yd course. I can survive on a 6,400 yd course but I will not be reaching any of the par 5s even with 2 perfect shots and I would likely have less fun there than I would at 6,000 or 5,900 yds. Just something I have been thinking about lately and especially when I watch the tour and how it seems their courses are shorter relative to their distance than the courses I play. 

Do this make sense to anyone else? 

Id say youre overthinking it.  For me, a simple formula is: am I hitting mid and long irons into the greens on par 4s all the time and on par 5s do I have any hope of making par?  If they answers are that Im constantly hitting long irons and havent got a prayer on par 5s, its time to move up.

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Woods: Tommy Armour Atomic 10.5* 

Irons: Mizuno MP Fli-Hi 21* and Mizuno T-Zoid True 5, 7 and 9-irons

Wedge: Mizuno S18 Blue Ion 54*

Putter: Mizuno Bettinardi A-02

Ball: Maxfli Tour X

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