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How do I convince my golf buddies it's time to change tee boxes?

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There is good data to support tee box selection based on launch monitor data, golf course data, and handicap/skill. Unfortunately, ego, or more accurately male ego, creates faulty decision-making.


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Edited by WFWP91
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The course where I caddie and also play most frequently has 7 different tee options, none of them colored red. The most forward tees have a total yardage of 5,100, but given the elevation and hazards on many holes, even that set plays longer. 
But despite us not having “Ladies Tees”, the majority of mid to high index males insist on playing from one or two teebox sets farther back than they should. Then they struggle to break 100, and complain about the course being “unfair”! Purely ego-driven. 
I caddied for a decent player from the east coast, two separate rounds. The first day he insisted on playing one tee box forward of the tips, and shot 94. Bummed out, said he wasn’t looking forward to coming back. Round 2, I led him to the next forward set of tees; he played to his handicap, had a great time, and shot 76. 
And have many here pointed out, pace of play really suffers when golfers don’t play from the appropriate tees. 

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Good topic.  You received quite a bit of feedback.   The hybrid tee box was a good solution; however, it would have been nice to hear that the complainers were moved to the long tee boxes whilst everyone else had the added advantage of playing the shorter tees and winning every week.  

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On the same line of thought, I play with a group who are mostly seniors. There are courses where we play that have senior tees. It took me a while to convince everyone that we should be playing the senior tees ( those over 70). We are all in our 70's and 80's,  and I am 77. It opened up a whole new world for us. Instead of hitting driver, three wood, long or short iron to the green on par fours, or driver, three wood, three wood, short or long  iron on par 5's we are hitting driver, long iron or short iron to the green. Before, I could have left my 7,8, and 9 irons home and I wouldn't have missed them (except on some par threes). It's certainly brought a lot of the fun back into the game! If everyone had a handicap (which some of group doesn't) we could use that as a reason to move up, but at over 70 don't let your ego stop you from having more fun on the golf course! It also speeds up pace of play for everyone.

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On 11/21/2022 at 1:36 PM, Bulldog said:

I'm the coordinator of a golf group that plays once a week.  We have 18 guys in the group.  Most, including me, are retired and 65+.  Week play a local course three weeks in a row, then take field trip to other courses in the area on the fourth week.  

At our home course, there are three tee boxes - blue (6565 yards), white (6026 yards), and red (5286 yards). We play the white tees.  You know what's coming...  Some of the guys can hit drives in the 230 - 245 range (I'm fortunate to still being that group).  Some struggle to get 200 yards on their drives - let's call them limited hitters.  Golf can be frustrating, but it's especially hard when you have no chance of getting a green in regulation.  It also leads higher scores and to slower play.

Last winter, I broached the subject of changing tee boxes to make the game more enjoyable.  That conversation didn't get very far.  One week, on a windy day when the fairways were damp and soft, I said, "Let's play the red tees today."  So we did.  At the end of the round, the torches and pitchforks came out.  Some thought it was OK to play the red tees when the weather was bad, especially hitting into the wind on a long par 3, but several made it clear that they were not happy, including some of the limited hitters.  Over time, I kept chipping away at the issue and was able to convince the group that, at least, we should shorten two holes - a 402 yard par 4 and a 541 yard par 5.  So, now we play the red tees on those two holes. No complaints! So, I suggested playing a modified red/white tee box combo, but they said that would too confusing to keep track of on the course. 

So, here's my analysis - male ego.  The red tees are the "ladies tees".  So, do I continue on the quest to make golf fun again, or close my eyes when I see a 192 yard drive on a 395 yard par 4.  I have a few ideas to try, but maybe some of you have better suggestions.  


At least you have a choice! On my winter golf tour, ALL golfers, regardless of age or ability, must play from the same tees. There are 40+ pros and scratch golfers in the “open” division (gross only, no handicaps), but there can be anywhere from 36 to 56 golfers who play in the “senior net” division, depending on the course that we are playing that week, and the rest of the 120 player field play in the “amateur net” division, comprised mostly of decent amateur golfers aged 35 to 55 years with handicaps between 1 and 12. The oldest player just turned 95, and we have many players in the senior division who are between 75 and 88 years old (I turn 74 this winter, and have seen my handicap rise from 11 to almost 16 in the past few years, giving me a course handicap as high as a 20 or even higher from the tees that we play.

Yesterday’s event was a perfect example of what playing from a mix of blue and white (or in some cases, all blue) tees does to the senior and even some of the younger amateur golfers. We had several par-4 holes that played between 395 and 410 yards, and one that played at 446 yards (they actually moved the tees up a bit, as the blue tees are normally about 465 yards), and two par-5s that were at least 530 yards, plus an uphill par-3 to a small domed green that was 198 yards (moved up from more than 220). There were many scores in the senior division higher than 105, and a few between 110-119. Even in the amateur net division, there were a few scores above 100, including a 103 by a 6-handicap and a 104 by an 8-handicap. Two of the players in my foursome were from the younger amateur division; one shot 99, and the other shot 108 ( both had adjusted course handicaps in the mid- teens from the tees that we played). I’m a longer- hitting senior, and I was driving the ball very well (long and straight) yesterday, but I still shot 90 and had a difficult time getting close to the greens in two on a few longer par-4s, and only reached the green in three on one par-5, plus I came up well short on the two longest par-3s.

When a spot opened up on the Board of this golf tour about 3 months ago, I applied for the position. I had the support of many senior players and more than a few guys in the amateur division, and made it to the final three. In my interview, I was asked my reasons for applying for a position on the Board of Directors, and my answer was, “to bring the perspective of the senior and higher handicap amateur golfers on the tour”. Although the League President and several other Board members said that they liked this, when they voted on who should be added to the Board, the spot went to a college golf coach who plays to a 0 handicap and plays in the amateur gross division.

One of the suggestions that I was prepared to make at my first Board meeting would have been to move seniors up to the gold tees at every course that we play on tour (still longer than 5,800-5,900 yards on some of them), and have separate closest to the pin contests for the seniors (we already have separate senior skins, but if a pro or scratch amateur is age 60+ they can enter in the senior skins by paying an extra fee; I would also like to see this practice end!). The professionals and a few of the scratch and near-scratch amateurs absolutely dominate the skins and CTP competitions at virtually every event, which annoys the senior golfers and high-handicap amateurs. When a mid or high-handicap player has a great hole and makes a birdie, and he then has some 61 year old pro or scratch amateur take away a skin with a “push”, it is particularly frustrating. I have already had this happen to me twice in four events this year, and I can’t even tell you guys how many times it has happened in my five years on this tour. The worst case was in last year’s Tour Championship, where skins pay about 4x what they yield in regular season events. I birdied the toughest par-4 on the course while playing in strong wind and sideways rain, and when I checked the posted scores of all 56 senior golfers in the event, mine was the only birdie. When the skins were posted—NOTHING for hole #8, where I had the birdie (I won the senior division by 6 strokes, by the way, with a net 65). When I questioned why no skin for me, the League Secretary/Treasurer said “golfer X also had a birdie on that hole”. It just so happens that “golfer X” is a scratch amateur age 63 who plays in the open division with the pros (he’s a former tour pro, who played many seasons on the Nike/Hogan Tour).

Rant over …. My point in all of this is that golfers should play the appropriate tees for their game and physical abilities, and they shouldn’t be forced to compete with other golfers who are far out of their golfing peer group!

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Driver: Ping G425 Max, 9*, Miyazaki  Kuala Mizu Tour Issue 6S, 44.75" playing length

4-Wood: Titleist TS2, 16.5*, Miyazaki Kuala Mizu Tour Issue 7S, 42.75" playing length

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Handicaps, as we all know, are adjusted based on which tees are played. At my club, we have a group of up to 20 or so guys (sometimes gals) that play. All skill levels are represented. We do not use handicap strokes, so we're all playing from "scratch". To help even out the field, we allow people to select tees according to their ages...older, up front and younger, farther back. The better golfers usually take the skins, and the older golfers usually win closest to the hole on par 3s. Not perfect, but it works. 

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On 11/21/2022 at 3:22 PM, vandyland said:

This is a topic I feel passionately about. I was listening the to the "No Putts Given" podcast with Lou Stagner (data analyst at Arccos among other titles) and at the 31:00 mark he mentions a very simple formula for what courses to play:

Your 5 iron carry * 33 or 34 is the total course distance. 

I love this idea. Mostly because I bet many people (mainly men) are playing courses longer than that. For me, I carry a 5 iron about 180 yds. So that is 180 * 33 = 5940 yds. I carry a driver 260 yds. I have no problem playing sub 6,000 yds. It is more fun and, guess what, I still don't shoot below par very often. 

I would say if the majority of your golfing group is breaking 80 from the whites then they should stay there. If not, what are they afraid of? They might make more birdies? They might have more fun? The average second shot distance for a middle of the pack PGA tour player (distance-wise) is 140 yds on a par 4. That's probably a PW or soft 9 iron. If that is how we challenge a TOUR PRO then why should weekly golfers be subjecting themselves to stiffer test than that? Pride?

Good feedback on this topic.  However, I am surprised that you have a driver average carry distance of 260 yards and only 180 yards on a five iron.   With that driving length, you have many really short approach shots with course distance less than 6000 yards.  

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Cobra AMP 8.5* driver (sometimes swap for Cobra Speedzone driver)

Cobra Speedzone 3 WD, 19* hybrid

Driving iron 18*

Mizuno JPX 900 Forged 4 - PW

Cleveland 588 gap wedge 52*

Scotty Cameron futura putter (sometimes Ping Zing anniversary edition, or TP mills blade)

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Most of the golf courses in our area have a senior tee.  When we play, we have a rule that when you turn 70 years of age you have earned the right to play from the gold or silver tees depending on the colors used by the course we are playing.  We have one player that when he turned 80, earned the right to play from the red tee box.  As the members of our golf group grow older, we are excited to take advantage of the advantages of becoming older provides.

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I started “playing it forward” (from 6123 yds. to 5563yds.) consistently this year.  Most of my regular partners have done the same.  As others have pointed out this move has made the game more fun (I can reach 7/8 par 4s in regulation with a tee shot in the fairway!), and more interesting (seeing the course differently than for the past 20+ years).

We all have experience playing with folks who overstate their ability, cling to memories of past ability, or equate gender with ability and choose to play from tees that seem, to me, to be longer than their current skill level warrants.  But that’s their choice.  Just don’t unduly slow the pace of play.

Play whatever tees you want, I’ll play whatever tees I want.

And, no, I don’t have an unfair advantage in our match.  If we both have legitimate GHIN handicaps, then the software will make the course/tee specific calculations for us.  (The OP didn’t mention anything about the stakes of the game but . . . 🙂.)

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Fwy:  Cobra King SZ (3; Regular); Ping G410 (5; Regular)

Hybrids: Ping G410 (22º and 26º; Regular)

Irons: Ping G410 (6-U)

Wedges: Ping Glide 3.0 (54º/12º), and Ping Glide 3.0 Eye2 (58º/8º)

Putter:  Ping Karsten Anser X

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On 11/21/2022 at 2:01 PM, stcymbol said:

You should try to get the shortest hitters to play from the red tees exclusively and the longer hitters (230+) from the whites exclusively. Everyone will have more fun and your pace of play will be vastly improved. Everyone wins. 

makes sense - hence why there are different tee


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On 11/21/2022 at 1:01 PM, stcymbol said:

You should try to get the shortest hitters to play from the red tees exclusively and the longer hitters (230+) from the whites exclusively. Everyone will have more fun and your pace of play will be vastly improved. Everyone wins. 

You could definitely try this. I have a couple of different groups I play in. I’m 42, but still hit it decently long. I play off 3.3. Generally play tips, but play to whatever everyone wants. Play with younger guys that like tips only, but their caps don’t justify tips. In my other group, play with 3 guys that are all within 2-3 years of me & the other 4 are all older. 1 being 62, but plays tips generally bc of his pride. His cap is around mine @4.  He doesn’t hit the ball nearly as far as some of us, but he plots his way around. 2 of the other older guys play seniors, with the lone guy playing blues. Usually if we all play the same tees, we go off caps. If we don’t & everyone plays different tees, we play straight up. We got together & wanted to make it better for everyone in the group. What we came up with was what we call the hard 3. It’s the 3 hardest individual par capped holes, you have the option of moving up a tee. We tried 3 hardest capped to start, but sometimes at our course, that was 2 par 3s & 1 par 4. Some didn’t like that, so we went the hardest cap on each par. So you get the option of moving up a tee, on the hardest par 3, 4, 5. We have changed it up before, & all could just pick 1 of each par. Didn’t have to be the hardest ones, just whatever you wanted. We didn’t this on a Florida trip, where we encountered a 600yd par 5, into the wind, followed up by a 250yd par 3, same wind direction. I know 3 holes doesn’t sound like much & it’s not, but sometimes it’s just enough to get the group over the edge, to really enjoying the game. Golf is hard enough as it is, so anyway you can enjoy it, be like Nike. Just do it!

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I'm 77.  I play weekly with guys across the handicap spectrum. Two years ago I moved up a set of tees and have enjoyed hitting mid to short irons into par 4's as opposed to 3 woods and hybrids.  It's not a crime to grow old.  Be thankful you have the opportunity.

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1. Smart course managers have verified the dilemma and they have new scorecards with "combo" courses and ratings, i.e. Black/Blue; Blue/White; White/Red; Red; Red Yellow.

2. If your players are consistently hitting fairway metals and/or hybrids for second shots, they are playing too deep. Slows everyone down and leaves players frustrated.

3. You might also re-arrange your groups and put the longer hitters on the white tees and the shorter hitters on the red tees...Adjust the handicaps according to the ratings for each tee box.


Just a couple of thoughts on how we handle things...

Golf Gear Head

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The whole point of the different tees is to allow players of different abilities to play together on a somewhat equal playing field. Same thing with the handicap system. To your point though people have egos, so look for ways to allow everyone to have fun and be competitive. If your shorter hitters are happy with where they are at and not wanting to switch tees than this is a hard change to make. If they are open to it, then I would say divide the group between longer and shorter hitters play the tee appropriate and go. Evaluate the scores over the course of the three weeks and see if there is a big change. Any player that is worth their salt wants to compete on an even playing field so that it keeps the competition exciting. There are all kinds of games and things that you can play to mix shorter hitters with longer ones for added spice.

For the love of the game!


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43 minutes ago, in3948 said:

Good feedback on this topic.  However, I am surprised that you have a driver average carry distance of 260 yards and only 180 yards on a five iron. 

@in3948   Yep, I have always wondered about that myself. Driver swing speed is 104-106 mph. My irons are traditionally lofted and steel shafted so my 5 iron is 26* but my 7 iron carry (34* 7 iron) is about 160 which has always felt a bit short compared to my peers (though some of them have 7 irons that are 31* of loft which explains the difference) but I do still have about a 10 yd incremental increase from 7 iron to 6 iron to 5 iron. 

45 minutes ago, in3948 said:

 With that driving length, you have many really short approach shots with course distance less than 6000 yards.  

In general yes, which makes golf infinitely more enjoyable for me. The last 9 holes I played out there I had approach distances in regulation of:

81 yds (par 4) - SW
82 yds (par 5) - SW
150 yds (par 3) - 8i
64 yds (par 4) - SW
122 yds (par 4) - PW
165 yds (par 3) - 6i
58 yds (par 4) - SW
59 yds (par 4) - SW
170 yds (par 4) - 6i

So avg approach left on par 4s of 92 yds (which is a soft GW for me). Guess what? I still shot 3 over, haha. I have never subscribed to the notion that I need to "hit all the clubs in my bag". Golf is hard as hell even if you have a wedge into most greens. 

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Talk to your golf buddies about the PGA tour vs. the Champions (i.e. Senior) tour course differences. The Champions tour does not play the same distances that the PGA tour does and the tee box and hole placements are easier as well. Ask them why that is? I would encourage your home course to start a set off yellow or silver tees so the men can save some pride as opposed to hitting of the women's tees.

Edited by Korban61



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I play on a 9 hole senior league with only small cash prizes ($5 each for closest on par 3's, longest drive, longest putt and low net) and pretty loose rules IMHO (it's a "fun" league). We seem to have the opposite problem from most of what I've read. Most of our guys want to move up as quickly as possible even though based on driving distance, a couple shouldn't. I'm in that group (SS Performance avg of 243) and prefer to play one back; I guess that's ego, but I like to challenge myself while I still can. And while I'm the 2nd longest driver of the ball, the guy who is the longest plays forward and they always seem to pick a par 5 with the huge difference in tee yardage (55-65 yards). Even without considering that the longest hitter plays forward, I'm not even close to 65 yards longer than the average of the others. So, to make it as fair as they can, we all are allowed to play from the same tees on the money holes (we have no ringers so everyone playing the shorter tee on par 3s isn't inappropriate), otherwise you can play whatever tee you want on every hole. I still believe they should pick a different long drive hole since I don't think it's fair for the shorter hitters to play from the same tee as the #1 driver and me. But it's tough giving up 65 yards before you even swing the club. 

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