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Sensible way to calculate what tees I should be playing?


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On 5/4/2021 at 1:17 PM, vandyland said:

I just find I have more fun playing shorter so I think I backed into a calculation that would make sense to me and show that playing shorter isn't ridiculous for my skill level. It doesn't account for a wide open course where you are hitting driver off every tee versus a Harbour Town (which I am playing later this year) where you have to be more strategic and all the sudden a 370 yd hole gets a lot longer when you have to hit Hybrid off the tee to keep it in play. So even as someone who hits it consistently well through a round, I am eyeing the 5,827 gold tees (at Harbour Town) due to the fact that I don't want to feel forced into hitting driver a lot out there. My playing partners are saying that's crazy and seemingly want to go out and just get punched in the face by the course and play from the Blues 6,700 yds. We are all basically 4-7 HDCPs and I am actually longer off the tee than 2 of the guys. I might just end of playing the Golds by myself out of principle 🙂

I think your right in playing the shorter tees at Harbor Town. last time I played I did the White (6250). It's not bad but you need to keep your ball in play off the tee and must have a good short game as you're not going to hit many greens. I have since moved up to the senior tees this year so if I play it again it will be the next tee up 5827. I caught so much flack from my buddies for moving up but they're used to it now. I don't hit the tee ball far (200) but I have a exceptional short game. Now when I play my buddies I am even with them off the tee so I know I'm playing the right tees which for me is 5900-6000 yards.  More importantly no matter which tees you play you still have to make the swing to score!

BTW, I live here in HH area at Belfair. Hit me up if you need another course to play. We have 2 Fazio courses

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Here are some rules I came up with for teeing it forward. I recommend using your best Jeff Foxworthy impression.

If your boom stick results are more in line with that of a broom stick, ...you should tee it forward.
If your GIR% is lower than your handicap, ...you should tee if forward.
If you have to pull driver on a par 3 in order to "lay up", ...you should tee it forward.
If your fairways missed is higher than your blood pressure, ...you should tee it forward.
If you can throw your putter farther than you can hit a drive, ...you should tee it forward.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/4/2021 at 1:17 PM, vandyland said:

I just find I have more fun playing shorter so I think I backed into a calculation that would make sense to me and show that playing shorter isn't ridiculous for my skill level. It doesn't account for a wide open course where you are hitting driver off every tee versus a Harbour Town (which I am playing later this year) where you have to be more strategic and all the sudden a 370 yd hole gets a lot longer when you have to hit Hybrid off the tee to keep it in play. So even as someone who hits it consistently well through a round, I am eyeing the 5,827 gold tees (at Harbour Town) due to the fact that I don't want to feel forced into hitting driver a lot out there. My playing partners are saying that's crazy and seemingly want to go out and just get punched in the face by the course and play from the Blues 6,700 yds. We are all basically 4-7 HDCPs and I am actually longer off the tee than 2 of the guys. I might just end of playing the Golds by myself out of principle 🙂

I almost always play  shorter tees when playing a bucket list course. I want to enjoy myself not get beaten into the ground. Plus who wants to spend big bucks to be miserable. I will move back on the occasional signature hole or one with a ton of elevation from the back tees just for fun. At 64 I try to stay at 6000 yards and under.

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On 5/13/2021 at 2:41 PM, HH Jim said:

 Now when I play my buddies I am even with them off the tee so I know I'm playing the right tees which for me is 5900-6000 yards.  

And you're still technically playing a longer course than them. You're drive should be past their's so you have the same club in. If you drive it even with them they likely have 9 iron in while you have a 7 iron.

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My evolution of tee boxes.

In my 20's- Whites

In my 30's-40's-Blues

In my 50's-Whites

Now- <6300 yards, whatever color that turns out to be.

When you tire of hitting a 3 hybrid into every Par 4, it's time to move up.

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  • 6 months later...

Well, 6 months later I still feel the same way. I am playing the best golf of my life and hitting the ball farther than I ever have (now carrying driver about 255 yds and rolling out to 270) and I still don't see the need to play most courses longer than 6200 yds. As mentioned earlier in the thread I played Harbour Town at 5800 yds and, in retrospect, that was the right decision. I had the option to hit hybrid on most of the holes so that I could be on the right side of the fwy, etc. I still got ejected by hole #8 but managed to break 80 out there whereas if I had played from the whites I was probably going to shot something in the mid 80s. 

And I am still very committed to this "earn your way back" idea. I play 3 municipal courses frequently and I started at the forward tees on all 3 and worked my way back. Basically had to break 80 from a tee box to move back. Made it back to the tips at my main course fairly quickly (it is a par 70 and only about 6200 from the tips -- not a difficult course) and another course (par 72 - 6450 yds) and the one up from the tips at the hardest course (par 72 - 6400). The main thing I learned is that playing from the front tees gives you a new kind of pressure because you are constantly in position to make birdies and you have to learn to and get comfortable with "going low." On the whole it is very fun to play from the front and I plan on doing it at least every quarter. It is a different look at the course and gives you more experience "going low." 

Finally, I have to watch out thinking that my opinion is a fact. In my mind, everyone should have the "earn your way back" mentality but that is not reasonable or fair. As much as it may annoy me, many people (especially men who don't play golf that often) are just married to this idea of playing the "men's tees" even if they are a 25+ HDCP. They paid the greens fee and they are allowed to choose where they play. THAT SAID, going back to my harbour town example -- I played with 3 other men who were all nice but all double digit hdcps. They all picked up their ball on at least 2 holes and one guy picked up his ball on like 7 holes. If I spent $325 on a greens fee, I would feel silly for having played the wrong tees. But that is just me. Rant over. 

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54 minutes ago, vandyland said:

Well, 6 months later I still feel the same way. I am playing the best golf of my life and hitting the ball farther than I ever have (now carrying driver about 255 yds and rolling out to 270) and I still don't see the need to play most courses longer than 6200 yds. As mentioned earlier in the thread I played Harbour Town at 5800 yds and, in retrospect, that was the right decision. I had the option to hit hybrid on most of the holes so that I could be on the right side of the fwy, etc. I still got ejected by hole #8 but managed to break 80 out there whereas if I had played from the whites I was probably going to shot something in the mid 80s. 

And I am still very committed to this "earn your way back" idea. I play 3 municipal courses frequently and I started at the forward tees on all 3 and worked my way back. Basically had to break 80 from a tee box to move back. Made it back to the tips at my main course fairly quickly (it is a par 70 and only about 6200 from the tips -- not a difficult course) and another course (par 72 - 6450 yds) and the one up from the tips at the hardest course (par 72 - 6400). The main thing I learned is that playing from the front tees gives you a new kind of pressure because you are constantly in position to make birdies and you have to learn to and get comfortable with "going low." On the whole it is very fun to play from the front and I plan on doing it at least every quarter. It is a different look at the course and gives you more experience "going low." 

Finally, I have to watch out thinking that my opinion is a fact. In my mind, everyone should have the "earn your way back" mentality but that is not reasonable or fair. As much as it may annoy me, many people (especially men who don't play golf that often) are just married to this idea of playing the "men's tees" even if they are a 25+ HDCP. They paid the greens fee and they are allowed to choose where they play. THAT SAID, going back to my harbour town example -- I played with 3 other men who were all nice but all double digit hdcps. They all picked up their ball on at least 2 holes and one guy picked up his ball on like 7 holes. If I spent $325 on a greens fee, I would feel silly for having played the wrong tees. But that is just me. Rant over. 

If you played Harbor Town at 5800 on the card in reality it is more like 6200 being at sea level. The main defense of that course is the wind. First time I played it we caught it on a non windy day and I think we played it around 6500 to 6800 on  the card. Back then I could hit a ball decent and I think I shot like 75 76 something like that. Next time we went there the wind was way up and from the same tees I think I shot like 88. In fact the wind was up so bad the Pro who was a friend of a friend told us he had several cancellations.  But yeah that is a great course

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27 minutes ago, Riverboat said:

I've always said when I have to hit woods into most part 4s on a course, it's time to move up. However, these days if I'm playing white and I see a 440 yard par 4,I don't even hesitate to move up to the seniors for that hole. I don't need to play 3 shot par 4s at age 60.

Exactly--- At 64 with a mending back I can relate--- But sometimes I do see things in a different light. My home course I play normally the Gold Senior tees at around 5800 at sea level. A bud of mine who is younger from over on WRX came down and played the other day and he is a long knocker. I played from the back with him first time i had been that far back in 10 years. Yep I hit quite a few 3 woods into Par 4s and on 2 of the Par 3s I had to hit a high cut Driver to clear a bunker hazard on one and a water hazard on the other. Actually it made me think and improvise and it was a challenge and fun. My goal was not to try to shoot par but break 80 which I did and shot 79 which is +7. I would not do that all the time but it was fun. I think the back tees play about 6300 or so at sea level. What is unique on that course is the angles from the different tees in relationship to the course. When I play my vintage equipment ( persimmon woods and blade irons) I play from the green Super Senior tees which are around 5300 5400. the angles are all together different. I usually hit a persimmon driver around 200 to 210 or so with roll out so I can play pretty competive from there. LOL the mens group of retiree farts says my handicap at 6 is too low. I told them I would play the vintage equipment from the tees they play at with a 6 to 8 and no takers. But yeah it is what one makes of it and I do not necessarly agree with the age versus tee thing. We have one guy on our old Scramble team that is only 55 and has bad knees and has not been playing that long and he plays up on the golds with us. No one has a problem with that

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For some reason I'm not able to upload this image, but here is a chart.


https://pdf.pgalinks.com/p-g-a/Tee_It_Forward_Guidelines.pdf

 

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Caveat: I am glad that the PGA tried to encourage people to "tee it forward" however....

...I personally hate the Tee it Forward guidance because it equates distance with skill basically. I have a friend who can hit his driver 280+ on the fly (he's 30 years old and super fit) but is rarely in the fairway and he plays off an 20 index. That chart would have him playing at 6,700 yards which is absolutely insane for a high double digit handicap. Personally, I would (and have suggested) he play at 6,000 yds and I even bet him he couldn't break 80 from 6,000 yds (he couldn't). Maybe he is an exception but the idea that distance dictates your tees alone is preposterous. You have to account for accuracy and skill. It should be a combination of driver distance and HDCP, in my mind. Also, 6700 yds at Harbour Town (supremely tight) is completely different vs 6700 yds at Pursell Farms (or some other wide open course). Finally people routinely inflate their driver distance by taking their best drive of the day as their "average" etc. so that downhill, downwind 285 yard drive turns into "I hit my driver close to 300". Sure you do, bud.

So I would change that table to be if you are a 5 HDCP or better AND hit driver 275+ then 6,700+. This complicates it but just because you can hit a 7 iron 180 yards doesn't mean you can hit it anywhere close to the flag. Also, for those guys that are high double digit HDCPs who complain (and I have heard this complaint often) if I play from 6,200 yds it will "just be driver + wedge all day and that's boring", you might be surprised when you actually have a birdie putt every now and then. You might even have fun! Just my two cents. 

Edited by vandyland
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This is how I decide.  It's served me well.   I play from the longest tees that will offer fewer than 4 par 4 holes over 420 yards.   Anything over 420 will likely require 6 iron or longer approaches for me.   This will mean that I will have 7 iron or shorter approaches on 6 of the 10 par 4 holes.   This is enjoyable golf for me.  If I have to hit long irons into greens more often than that, it will just be frustrating.   For most of the courses I play,  it's the white (middle) tees.  For short tracks, its' the blue (back) tees.

Of course, 420 is the number for me.  It may be different for others.  In short, I want to hit 7 irons or shorter of majority of par 4s.

  

Edited by pakman92
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13 hours ago, vandyland said:

Caveat: I am glad that the PGA tried to encourage people to "tee it forward" however....

...I personally hate the Tee it Forward guidance because it equates distance with skill basically. I have a friend who can hit his driver 280+ on the fly (he's 30 years old and super fit) but is rarely in the fairway and he plays off an 20 index. That chart would have him playing at 6,700 yards which is absolutely insane for a high double digit handicap. Personally, I would (and have suggested) he play at 6,000 yds and I even bet him he couldn't break 80 from 6,000 yds (he couldn't). Maybe he is an exception but the idea that distance dictates your tees alone is preposterous. You have to account for accuracy and skill. It should be a combination of driver distance and HDCP, in my mind. Also, 6700 yds at Harbour Town (supremely tight) is completely different vs 6700 yds at Pursell Farms (or some other wide open course). Finally people routinely inflate their driver distance by taking their best drive of the day as their "average" etc. so that downhill, downwind 285 yard drive turns into "I hit my driver close to 300". Sure you do, bud.

So I would change that table to be if you are a 5 HDCP or better AND hit driver 275+ then 6,700+. This complicates it but just because you can hit a 7 iron 180 yards doesn't mean you can hit it anywhere close to the flag. Also, for those guys that are high double digit HDCPs who complain (and I have heard this complaint often) if I play from 6,200 yds it will "just be driver + wedge all day and that's boring", you might be surprised when you actually have a birdie putt every now and then. You might even have fun! Just my two cents. 

Agree 110% with you--- Different courses play very different and  my 5 per say actually when I am in good health on my home course is more like 2 since I know it so well. Now at the course you mentioned I have never seen or played it may be a vastly different thing for me. First off I assume it is in Tennessee so there is the Sea Level thing for me and I will hit a lot of hot shots that really fly there. And people generally think they hit the ball further than they actually do and since the advent of range finders I have proved it quite a few times. People generally absolutely do not know anything about sea levels affecting ball flight and distance-- LOL I have heard visitors from the NE especially state that our 150 markers are off or the ocean air is affecting their range finders because at home they hit their 7 iron 150 and here they are coming up short. I run into this quite a bit in Scrambles here people using GPS versus range finders. The GPS says like 150 but to the pin is like 140 with my Precision Pro ( which I tested here) . Some of them will go by tee yardage on the marker of the tee. I have to explain that that is measured to the center of the green and in this case the pin is Blue and the distance is like 30 paces from the middle. Had to illustrate that to a guy the other day using his own GPS. A lot of it is knowing the course. On the example above on the hole I am thinking carry about 130 and let roll out because the green will not hold if you fly one in hot. But a lot of it is course knowledge and that is what the phrase of someones handicap travels well if they play another course somewhat in the range they play their home course. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

So, I can let this topic go. I went out to the Korn Ferry website and pulled down all the course information I could. 10 of the tournaments listed hole by hole distances in an easily downloadable format. This is how we test high level golfers by the way. I put them into excel and got the following averages:

Par 3 Avg Distance: 191 yds
Par 4 Avg Distance: 419 yds
Par 5 Avg Distance: 556 yds
Total Avg Distance: 7180 yds

And then I pulled down the average driving distance on KFT tour which was 302.7 yds. I admit, not everyone is hitting driver on every par 4 and par 5 but for the purposes of this exercise I am using average driving distance. 

Thus, taking the average par 4 on the KFT less the average drive => (419 - 302) = 117 left in for the second shot. Which I would assume is a Gap wedge or maybe even a sand wedge for those guys. For me to have a gap wedge (108 carry for me) in to the average hole would calculate like this (my average drive per TM app is 260) => (360 - 260) = 100. Thus I have my average par 4 - 360

Same exercise for Par 5 - KFT is 556 - 302 = 254 left in which I assume is a easy 3W for most of those guys. An easy 3W for me is 220. So to have 220 left in, my average par 5 has to be 480 (480-260 = 220). 

Finally par 3 I assume that 190 yards is a 6i for most KFT guys (maybe even less?). A 6i for me is 170

So that all shakes out as such [368 * 10 = 3,680] + [480 * 4 =  1920] + [172 * 4 = 688] = 6,200 absolute max. If those are the relative distances for high level players, then in my mind I should probably be playing 6,000 - 6,100 yds most of the time. 

Basically I will just keep finding ways to justify playing shorter and shorter until I can reach every par 5 in two, hahaha.

Edited by vandyland

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Good discussion.  

I play the "White" tees mostly, and it's a stretch for my length (6600 yards).  Lots of 170-195 approach shots (love my 7W).  If the course is playing fast and I don't have to wait for the group ahead of me, I have moved up to the "Gold" tees, and have also used the "Reds" to get a different look at the course and work on different strategy and distances than I normally do from the "whites".  The only time I'll play from the tips (Blue) is if the course is playing SLOOOOW and I'm waiting on every hole for the group in front of me.  I'm not long enough to play the tips consistently, but it is fun to strategize layup shots on occasion, rather than always approaching the green - and I can alleviate some of the "hit and wait" on those slow days since I'm out of range of the group ahead more.  Tell you what... definitely puts pressure on the "75 and in" game.  Mostly, I just make sure I'm part of the solution on the course, and try to never slow down play behind me.  

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It is really heavily dependent upon the course. A "poorly" designed course is designed to be played from the tips so that is where the variation in par 4 distances are, where the fairway bunkers really come into play etc.  When I play the whites (my course goes red, white, combo, blue, gold) I find that I end up playing driver wedge every single hole.  Additionally, if everyone played from the whites, you would really have to wait for the green to clear on every par 5 because a large portion of golfers CAN make it there in 2 (<225 to green). 

The blues offer a little bit more variation but it still can get repetitive and you remove a number of problems. Playing the tips is really the most fun way to play my home course but that doesn't mean it is what I play all the time.  I probably play tips 5% of the time, Blues 50%, combo 15%, white 20%, and new this year will be playing forward tees the remaining 10% of the time.  

As has been said many many times, I don't care where people play as long as they're not slow. You can be a great golfer but if you're slow I will have a problem no matter the tees.  You could be a terrible golfer and i won't care if you get to the ball and hit it in 20 seconds. 

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I always base mine by looking at the par 3's. Take a look at all of the par 3 distances and ensure that they are comfortable, one or two might be extra hard but they shouldn't be unmanageable. On the courses I play the remaining holes then seem to line up perfectly with the difficultly level I am looking for. I have also based it on driver distance in that most par 4's I would expect to hit driver and a short iron into to the green. If every par 4 is driver 5 iron then I am likely playing too far back.

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This topic does fascinate me, I never give it that much thought. I’m a 6 handicap and we play from various tees. Sometimes we play from the tips to make the skins game more interesting, and sometimes we play from the regular mens tees to make it more interesting. I would say that you should play whatever makes it fun that day and keeps you in the pace of play range. 

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  • 4 months later...

Just as an interesting caveat, I watched the Byron Nelson this past weekend and 3 of the 4 par 5s on that course play shorter than the par 5s on my home course that is only 6,200 yds from my tees. Most egregious was the 18th hole (obviously set up for "drama") which was a 508 yd par 5. That is crazy for these guys. I don't ever get to play par 5s that short, usually. Just another reason for me to tee it up as short or even shorter than I do. If they are "testing" guys that average 310 off the tee with 508 yd par 5s what I am doing playing par 5s that are 540 yards+? Next time I play my course I might play all the par 5s from the seniors tees (still like 480-500 yds). 

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Nike Sumo 13* Driver - 18* Sim 2 Max 5W - PTxPro 5-PW - Equalizer II Wedges - Seemore FGP Putter

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Personally, I learned a while ago that playing from the tips is not the best way to play golf for the average player but it can be the best way to be humbled.  When younger we always looked at the tips as the way to prove we were worthy of playing and it allowed us to see the whole course and we usually did 200 yds at a time.  Now I look at it like this, if I can play and keep up with the group ahead of me as well as the others in my group, I will play there.  If I feel like it puts me in a fowl mood or causes others around me to slow their game, I have no issue anymore of playing from tees that are closer and allow my game to get better.  If I get to the point where I could consistently play a course from a forward set of tees with a score of half the number of holes played over par, then I would consider moving back.

Also, remember this, sometimes when you play tees that are forward from the tips, not only do you take some hazards out of play, but you may actually bring some hazards into play.  This is why I learned to pay attention to tee location when I go watch tournaments.  Everyone talks about hole location on the green, but sometimes a tee that is 20 yards forward or back from the previous day can change how the hole is played.

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Driver: :ping-small: Ping G410 10.5 degree ALTA CB 55 RED STIFF
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23 minutes ago, GrumpyGolf said:

If I get to the point where I could consistently play a course from a forward set of tees with a score of half the number of holes played over par, then I would consider moving back.

I agree with this (you can go back through my post history in this thread) and you will see I am a BIG proponent of the idea that you "earn your way back." I am decently long off the tee vs the average golfer (250-270 yds) so I don't overpower any golf courses but I, theoretically, could play golf courses at 6,600 yds but it isn't fun (for me). Instead, I play "open" golf courses at 6200 and "tight" golf courses (determined by landing zone between hazards) anywhere from 5700 - 6100 yds. I don't think enough is said about average golfers giving themselves the option to hit something other than driver on par 4s and par 5s and still have a *chance* at getting on the green in regulation. If you are an average male golfer (as defined in the arccos data) and carry a driver like 215 yds, what would you have to hit to get on in reg on a 410 yd par 4? Driver + 3W? Why do that? Do you see tour players doing that very often? And they are the best in the world. 

The only other interesting side of this is the few times I play from the forward tees in the year I get people actually telling me it is stupid or "those tees are not for you." Like people have actually said that to my face. Mind you, I am not club twirling or pumping my fist after birdies. Just playing normal controlled golf. I could just as easily tell the guys I played with last week that couldn't hit a driver more than 210 yards that the 6,400 yd tees they were playing with were "not for you" but, instead, realized it is not my place to tell people how to play. But, if you ask me, I am going to start evangelizing what I just posted above.  

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Nike Sumo 13* Driver - 18* Sim 2 Max 5W - PTxPro 5-PW - Equalizer II Wedges - Seemore FGP Putter

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