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Interesting take on driving yardage and the tees we "should" be playing


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I don't necessarily agree with the article about which tees amateurs should be playing but it is an interesting take.  I occasionally move up to the shortest tees at our course and enjoy it immensely.  If I used this article as a guide, I would play the shortest tees every time.  Of course, in just three years, I'll be moving up anyway, at least in my regular group.

The reason I'm not sure I agree with the author's suggestion of which course yardage to play is the fact that hitting the ball a long ways is a skill in and of itself.  At first glance, this might seem to contradict my being in favor of limiting distance for the best players.  But, if the ball roll back works as intended (a big if) long hitters will still have an advantage.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/shocking-new-data-average-driving-distance-tee-boxes-pga-tour?uuid=982340801622498eb16abf989514a2d6

Edited by Hook DeLoft

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I don't imagine the author is seriously suggesting that we move WAY up.  But it really does illustrate that we're NOT going to play a golf course in a similar manner to the PGA Tour players, and its even MORE unlike the PGA Tour experience if we move to longer tees.  Good players who average 270 off the tee aren't going to move up to 6000 yards, and normal humans like me who might carry the ball 200 aren't going to play at 5000 yards.  On the other hand, each and every one of us should look at playing a shorter course, and be safe in understanding that we're not being wimps, we're only trying to get the PGA Tour experience.  "I wanna play the tips, see what the pros see".  Not a chance!!

Edited by DaveP043

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1 hour ago, Hook DeLoft said:

At first glance, this might seem to contradict my being in favor of limiting distance for the best players.  But, if the ball roll back works as intended (a big if) long hitters will still have an advantage.

Not only will they still have the advantage as strokes gained shows us but it will be an even bigger advantage than it currently is on longer courses.

Shorter hitters off the tee tend to have the advantage in shorter courses, but on longer courses the advantage swings to the longe hitters. It’s why the proposed rolback won’t accomplish jts goal. When distance becomes and advantage more people get to find it. At some point there won’t be shorter hitters on tour and everyone will be closer to the leader than they are now. 
 

 

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Everyone should probably play one tee up IMO. I drive it 250-280 depending on the weather out here in the PNW and I will play the white tees (middle) at most courses just to make the game more fun. It allows me to not have to hit driver on every hole and makes the game a little easier and enjoyable. Plus it speeds up the rounds. I’m not playing in competitive tournaments and this game should be fun. Nothing is more frustrating than getting stuck behind the groups that can barely poke it 200 yards off the tee and they’re playing the blue/member tees. Let’s move it up and you old guys can swallow your pride


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50 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

. At some point there won’t be shorter hitters on tour and everyone will be closer to the leader than they are now.

I'm not so sure, I believe there will always be longer and shorter players.  The raw numbers will change, median distance will probably increase, but some players will have a distance advantage over others.

And for the rest of us humans, we'll never be playing the same clubs to the greens as the tour pros do, even if we move up a bunch we'll still be hitting more club to most greens.

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"...even if we move up a bunch we'll still be hitting more club to most greens".  Depends on the course and conditions.  I carry most of my tee shots around 210 yards.  From the front tees at the course I play I have a 9 iron or less into almost all the par 4's and can reach all the par 5's if the fairways are firm.  The front tees are around 5000 yards.

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5 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

I'm not so sure, I believe there will always be longer and shorter players.  The raw numbers will change, median distance will probably increase, but some players will have a distance advantage over others.

And for the rest of us humans, we'll never be playing the same clubs to the greens as the tour pros do, even if we move up a bunch we'll still be hitting more club to most greens.

Over time as those who have the ability to gain distance along with those that have it will be the ones making it on tour. The guys that are sub 300 now are near their max. Take 8-10 yards off their driver while others aren’t losing anything and the guys who can get 300+ will have the advantage as they aren’t having to go from mid irons to long irons or long irons to hybrid for their approach shots like the shorter hitters will. It will make scoring harder for the shorter golfer. You will end up with golfers that are all hitting it about the same distance and the leaders won’t be 15+ yards over the average 

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16 hours ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Over time as those who have the ability to gain distance along with those that have it will be the ones making it on tour. The guys that are sub 300 now are near their max. Take 8-10 yards off their driver while others aren’t losing anything and the guys who can get 300+ will have the advantage as they aren’t having to go from mid irons to long irons or long irons to hybrid for their approach shots like the shorter hitters will. It will make scoring harder for the shorter golfer. You will end up with golfers that are all hitting it about the same distance and the leaders won’t be 15+ yards over the average 

@RickyBobby_PR this is an interesting take. So basically, even with a rollback, the longer hitters from the tee will continue to be rewarded over the shorter hitters. Never thought about it that way. Thx

I know for my own game I’m not super long off the tee — around 210. So I try to play from tees that set up my approach shot around 150. 

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54 minutes ago, Hacker60521 said:

@RickyBobby_PR this is an interesting take. So basically, even with a rollback, the longer hitters from the tee will continue to be rewarded over the shorter hitters. Never thought about it that way. Thx

I know for my own game I’m not super long off the tee — around 210. So I try to play from tees that set up my approach shot around 150. 

Yeah. It’s Rory’s reasoning for supporting the rollback. Strokes gained stats show us that lengthening courses gives strokes gained advantage to the longer hitter. A rollback is the equivalent of lengthening the course.

Rory’s comment is that the longer hitter will be hitting a 6i while the shorter hitter is going to be hitting hybrid. Proximity to hole gets worse the further out one is.

Lou Stegman and Mark Broadie pointed all this out as part of the ruling bodies recommendation. When we look at tour players many aren’t maxing out their speed. Example is Tony Finau. He can get over 190 ball speed but as he says there’s more risk than needed to go that fast and he stays around 304 yards total distance. Cam Champ has also been slowing down speed a bit. So the guys that can add speed will add speed after the rollback and as Dr Sasho Mackenzie pointed out the average swing speed on tour will start approach 125. The ones that can’t add speed are going to be at a bigger disadvantage.

We can see what happened when courses started tiger proofing. It put a premium on distance and everyone started hitting the gym and getting fit. We saw more golfers coming on tour being able to hit the ball farther. Samething will happen here

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4 hours ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

 

We can see what happened when courses started tiger proofing. It put a premium on distance and everyone started hitting the gym and getting fit. We saw more golfers coming on tour being able to hit the ball farther. Samething will happen here

I remember Tiger's father saying if you really wanted to Tiger proof a course, you would make it shorter with wider fairways and low rough.  That would nullify his advantages over the other players.

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9 minutes ago, Hook DeLoft said:

I remember Tiger's father saying if you really wanted to Tiger proof a course, you would make it shorter with wider fairways and low rough.  That would nullify his advantages over the other players.

Yep. Shorter hitters have the advantage at shorter courses per strokes gained data.

 

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Gotta say.  I do play lots of rounds from the front tees with my HS golf team. It does tend to be very fun but it really shines a light on who has a distance advantage and who doesn't. That being said, I want to play the tees that best challenge me, not because I am trying to "see what the pros see" but because I want something that poses a leveled  challenge for someone of my ability. Usually that equates to 6400-6500 yards. All that to say: more birdies (or opportunities) = more fun. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

My group and I always play the middle tees. We are not immensely long hitters, but I wouldn't call us short either. My guess based off of playing with others not as frequently is that we are about average. Being such and not striving to be a pro, I like being able to take short irons and wedges on occasion for an approach into a green. My home course I frequently hit driver and then 7 iron in for approach shots. I really enjoy the course and the fact that I score frequently well doesn't hurt. What's nice is that when I play somewhere else, I do not see my scores dramatically decrease. So, this works for me! 

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Thanks for sharing this article! I played a golf course at 5,700 yds this past week and had a BLAST. I will sound like a broken record but playing the course shorter allows more players to have options off the tee. 

Let's say your driver total is 265 yds, 5W/3Hybrid total is 230 and driving iron total is 215 yds. If you play a 430 yd par 4, you only really have one option off the tee there (the driver). Play a 330 yd par 4 and all the sudden you can hit Driver, Fairway wood, driving iron or even 5 iron off the tee and still have a reasonable shot into the green. 

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1 hour ago, vandyland said:

Thanks for sharing this article! I played a golf course at 5,700 yds this past week and had a BLAST. I will sound like a broken record but playing the course shorter allows more players to have options off the tee. 

Let's say your driver total is 265 yds, 5W/3Hybrid total is 230 and driving iron total is 215 yds. If you play a 430 yd par 4, you only really have one option off the tee there (the driver). Play a 330 yd par 4 and all the sudden you can hit Driver, Fairway wood, driving iron or even 5 iron off the tee and still have a reasonable shot into the green. 

While those may be options driver is still the play from a strokes gained perspective as long as the distance doesn’t bring trouble into play. 
 

Im trying to score as low as I can when I play and am going to take shorter shots into the green over a longer one. 

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I base my tee choice on handicap, I look up the course handicap in GHIN and play the furthest back tees that don't raise my cap, or only raise it a stroke or two.

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25 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

While those may be options driver is still the play from a strokes gained perspective as long as the distance doesn’t bring trouble into play. 

I get that. I just like to have a back up option (or two) when my driver isn't cooperating or, as you mentioned, when there is significant OB in play. I may leave some strokes gained on the table but I prefer to keep my ball in play and have unobstructed full shots into the green. If I was always playing great with my driver and only having like 20 yds dispersion either side of center then yes, I am pulling it constantly. I am a naturally conservative player, despite the fact strokes gained would suggest I should be more aggressive. Playing the tees shorter just gives me more opportunities to exercise my right to be conservative. 

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... I know many are tied to a handicap and posting scores. And while it is fun to play a course similar to how the Tour Pro's would play it, are we really gonna compare ourselves to the best players on the planet? I shoot under par regularly and would never even think of comparing my game to the Pro's. These guys practice every day, have swing coaches, work out religiously and have elite skills. Very few Am's at any level are comparable. 

... That said, I like to at least have a few holes where I can feel like a PGA Pro. Perfect example is a 519yd par 5 dogleg left guarded by a huge bunker that takes a 285 yd carry from the tips. From the Silvers it is a 243yd carry and from the Golds it is a 210 yd carry. Ton of fun to carry that bunker and have a hybrid to mid iron depending on the pin location. So I enjoy playing that hole like a Pro. But I don't think I deserve to play every hole like a Pro. There is one other that is a short par 4 over water and a 215 yd carry from the Golds so I can drive the green. From the Silvers it is a 245 carry so I have to lay up. From the Blacks it is a 277 yd carry and most Pro's can do the with a fairway wood. So I skip the mens tees and play a combo of the Tips/Sr tees. Just about the same yardage as the Silver but much more fun on 6 of the longer holes and a challenge on 6 of the shorter holes playing from the Tips. 

... The rest of the holes I want a distance that challenges me to be at my best with approaches ranging from short irons to hybrids depending on wind and how well I hit my tee shot. But I play with mid/higher index players quite often that can't reach most of the par 4's unless they hit two great shots and the chances of 2 in a row are very slim. Moving up one or even two tees won't have them playing like the Pro's but should give them a chance at par on any given hole if they play it well. 

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1 hour ago, vandyland said:

I get that. I just like to have a back up option (or two) when my driver isn't cooperating or, as you mentioned, when there is significant OB in play. I may leave some strokes gained on the table but I prefer to keep my ball in play and have unobstructed full shots into the green. If I was always playing great with my driver and only having like 20 yds dispersion either side of center then yes, I am pulling it constantly. I am a naturally conservative player, despite the fact strokes gained would suggest I should be more aggressive. Playing the tees shorter just gives me more opportunities to exercise my right to be conservative. 

Having options for when driver isn’t going well is something most people have or try to have or in the case of some if they want/need to hit a draw will go to a fairway wood. But I’m not intentionally thinking of I’m not going to play driver off the tee. 

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On 2/3/2024 at 10:32 AM, Hook DeLoft said:

I don't necessarily agree with the article about which tees amateurs should be playing but it is an interesting take.  I occasionally move up to the shortest tees at our course and enjoy it immensely.  If I used this article as a guide, I would play the shortest tees every time.  Of course, in just three years, I'll be moving up anyway, at least in my regular group.

The reason I'm not sure I agree with the author's suggestion of which course yardage to play is the fact that hitting the ball a long ways is a skill in and of itself.  At first glance, this might seem to contradict my being in favor of limiting distance for the best players.  But, if the ball roll back works as intended (a big if) long hitters will still have an advantage.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/shocking-new-data-average-driving-distance-tee-boxes-pga-tour?uuid=982340801622498eb16abf989514a2d6

I generally have no choice as to what tees I play from.  On my winter tour, EVERYONE from PGA professionals to 30-handicap golfer (22 year olds to one 94 year old) plays from the same tees. There are no exceptions! Most courses play between 6,050 and 6,400 yards, and pin placements are always in the most difficult spots on the greens.

On our statewide senior golf league, the courses are set up to be more player-friendly (5,800 to 6,000 yards, with a couple courses at 5,700 yards). In addition, we rarely see the brutal pin positions that are the norm on the Caliendo Winter Golf Tour. Still, several seniors complain about some of the course setups on the NJ Senior Golf League courses, including my home course, which is one of the longest and most difficult courses in the 28-team league (being expanded to 30 teams this year). Although I am still one of the longest hitters in the senior travel league, I tend to agree with the guys who complain that the courses we play are too long (5,500 yards would surely be better for the vast majority of players).

What I do dislike, however, is playing courses where more than one hole is almost drivable or leaves a partial wedge second shot. I HATE partial wedge shots (less than 100-105 yards)!  However, for a lot of these seniors, 100-105 yards is a 7 or 8-iron, and for some it is even a hybrid.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would say, I have just moved down to playing no more than 6200.  Went on a trip to SC, and figured out ahead of time, a couple places where I had to play up or back to add, or knock off about 200-300 yards to get it around 6000.  I have also learned that shorter holes in no way ensures that I am going to hit the ball straighter, or cleaner.   A fatted 9 iron  from the appropriate distance, will just as assuredly find the front bunker as a fatted 7 iron from an appropriate distance.  Too many people overestimate, what playing a course shorter will actually do for them.

As a point of reference.  South Carolina trip with 20 guys.   This is handicapped based on rounds played on the trip.  Everyone I speak of has over 50 rounds, 6 rounds a year adding to the amount their handicap is calculated on.  A big discussion went on for about 5 years with many 60+ year old players, who were good golfers with handicaps in the 10-16(from regular tees) range contending, if  "well if I move up a tee box, and my handicap is lowered by only a couple strokes , I will play so much better from closer I will run away with the cup"(which is based on 5 rounds of play for the week.   Over the last 5 years slowly but surely these golfers who should be playing from up, to enjoy the game more, with their handicap adjusted, have not PLAYED SO MUCH BETTER, and none of them have, won or ran away with the cup.

Playing a course shorter, does not help you hit the ball straighter off the tee, it does not help you hit the ball straighter with any club.  It doesn't help you stop, duffing, or thinning chips, when you are inclined to do so, it in no way improves ones really bad sand play nor does it in any way help you with distance control, accuracy, or anything to do with putting.

Way more golfers than do so, need to face reality, set their egos aside, and move up.  Because I have news for all of them.  Moving down from 6300-6000,                     or 6000-5700,  or whatever is not going to have them shooting sub par, or anything close to it, if they weren't already doing so.  MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, IT SHOULD SPEED UP THE GAME FOR EVERYONE!! 

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On 2/3/2024 at 10:32 AM, Hook DeLoft said:

I don't necessarily agree with the article about which tees amateurs should be playing but it is an interesting take.  I occasionally move up to the shortest tees at our course and enjoy it immensely.  If I used this article as a guide, I would play the shortest tees every time.  Of course, in just three years, I'll be moving up anyway, at least in my regular group.

The reason I'm not sure I agree with the author's suggestion of which course yardage to play is the fact that hitting the ball a long ways is a skill in and of itself.  At first glance, this might seem to contradict my being in favor of limiting distance for the best players.  But, if the ball roll back works as intended (a big if) long hitters will still have an advantage.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/shocking-new-data-average-driving-distance-tee-boxes-pga-tour?uuid=982340801622498eb16abf989514a2d6

I don't agree at all with the premise set forth in that article!  If you use the formula that is presented in it, I should be playing from tees that are between 5,298-5,566 yards .... and I drive the ball between 237-250 yards, on-average.  There are virtually ZERO golf courses in my area where the senior tees are less than 5,600-5,750 yards, and many courses have ladies tees that are more than 5,200-5,300 yards.  Even if I were to use my BEST drives (non wind-aided), which are in the range of 268-270 yards, I should be playing from tees that are about 5,990 yards, according to that formula.  That is absolutely ludicrous, and there would be howls of protest if I ever tried to tee it up in league play or other competitions from the shorter tees (5,300-5,600 yards).

I often play with the Head Pro / Director of Golf at my home course, and they basically have me hit from a combination set of tees (blue/white tees @ 6,303 yards) and in all club competitions I play from the 6,157 yard white tees (not my choice, the pro sets what tees all competitors will play from, based on a combination of the player's handicap index and driving distance). The longer-hitting senior (age 60+) golfers hit from the white tees (6,157 yards), yet some of the shorter-hitting higher-handicap younger golfers play from the white/gold combo tees (5,845 yards) or the gold (5,653 yards) tees. 

On my UK golf trips, all men -- regardless of age -- play from the gold tees, which are not necessarily "senior" tees.  On the four courses that we played over there in 2022, those gold tees ranged from 6,150 to 6,400+ yards, and I was perfectly comfortable doing this.

I am comfortable with all of the above, although I did stop playing with my home course's traveling "Challenge Cup" and GAP (Golf Association of Philadelphia) teams two years ago because those teams play from longer playing distances than those with which I am comfortable.

Edited by funkyjudge

DR - Callaway Paradym AI Smoke TD, Newton Motion 4-Dot

4W - Callaway Paradym 3HL, Newton Motion Fairway shaft, 4-Dot

HYB - Paradym X 18*, HZRDUS Smoke Red 80S; Sub 70 949X 21*, same shaft

7W (if played) - Sub 70 849, ProForce Black 80-S

Irons - Callaway Paradym, HZRDUS Silver Gen 4, S-flex

Wedges - Edison 2.0, 53* and 57* (bent to 58*), KBS TGI 100

Putter - (currently in flux, but usually an Evnroll 8V

Ball - Maxfli Tour-X CG (2023)

Bags - Ghost Golf Maverick Black Ops

Cart - MotoCaddy M7 Remote (without the remote)

Spoiler

driver / off the tee is no longer a weakness for me!

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I don't agree with the author's premise either.

I usually look at the length of the par3 holes and base my decision on that.

I wish more courses would have a combination of something like blue/white. 

Driver-  Cobra  Aerojet LS
Woods-
Cobra  LTD 3w 15*, 5W 19*,  F9 24* 
Irons- XXIO X (6-A)

Wedges- Callaway Jaws Raw (54/58)

Putter- Bettinardi BB56
Ball- Maxfli Tour X
Buggy- Motocaddy M7 GPS Remote Electric Caddy
Bag- Motocaddy Dry-Series

Proudly testing for 2024:

 

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19 hours ago, Stuka44 said:

Playing a course shorter, does not help you hit the ball straighter off the tee, it does not help you hit the ball straighter with any club.  It doesn't help you stop, duffing, or thinning chips, when you are inclined to do so, it in no way improves ones really bad sand play nor does it in any way help you with distance control, accuracy, or anything to do with putting.

Way more golfers than do so, need to face reality, set their egos aside, and move up.  Because I have news for all of them.  Moving down from 6300-6000,                     or 6000-5700,  or whatever is not going to have them shooting sub par, or anything close to it, if they weren't already doing so.  MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, IT SHOULD SPEED UP THE GAME FOR EVERYONE!! 

How true!

My current course is a shorter course. 6527 Blues, 6112 Whites, 5181 Gold, 4941 Red, and 4387 Orange. The course's front 9 is a Ross design and I'm not sure who did the back. There are 10 dogleg holes, tight fairways, small greens and all are elevated. If you go over any green long, you are in trouble. Being a long hitter is of no use on 14 of the 18 holes. Most of the dog legs require your tee shot to be a distance way less than a driver unless you can really move the ball left and right. You will still be left with long iron, hybrid, or fairway wood shots into the greens. The trees are tall yellow pines which are about 40 to 50 feet tall. So, no short cuts. This is a placement course so don't let the short overall yardage fool you into thinking you're going to score low. It took me the better part of a year to figure out every hole's secrets. 

If you can't hit the ball straight, you're in trouble.    

:titleist-small: Driver, TSi 1 S Flex

:cobra-small: 3 wood, Aerojet Max UST Helium Nanocore R Flex

:cobra-small: 5 wood, Aerojet Max UST Helium Nanocore R Flex 

:cobra-small: 7 Wood, Aerojet Max UST Helium Nanocore R Flex 

:cobra-small: 5 Hybrid King Tec MMT R Flex

:cobra-small: Irons, Tour UST Recoil 95 R Flex (6 - Gap)

:cobra-small: Wedges, Snakebite KBS Hi- Rev2.0 54* & 60*

:cobra-small: Agera 35"

image.png Ultralight 14-way Cart Bag

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