Last week the National Golf Foundation published a news bulletin evaluating the results of the Tee It Forward campaign, which was first announced 10 years ago.
Led by the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America and backed by Jack Nicklaus and clubmaker Barney Adams, the initiative tried to use short strokes to convince golfers to move up a tee or two.
Applicants commented that if golfers really understood how different their game was from what they saw on television, they would stop playing a course that is too long for their actual skill level.
Part of the initiative’s marketing program suggested that when PGA Tour players took on a distance challenge equivalent to medium-range golfers, they would be playing well over 8,000 yards.
The NGF bulletin found that Tee It Forward had mixed results in the core group of golf. Most remembered the program existed, but only 30 percent had taken the advice – mostly golfers 50 and over. “Three-quarters said their results improved and even more (80 percent) said they had more fun,” said Joseph Beditz, PhD, the President and CEO of NGF.
Why didn’t more golfers take the advice?
It’s not that driver gaps have lengthened or handicaps improved over the years. The current USGA / Royal & Ancient Distance Study has shown that the average amateur male struggles to produce constant drives over 220 yards.
Beditz remarked: “[B]Changes in behavior among consumers and operators require a lot of time, effort and intervention. National advertising helps create the necessary awareness, but is not enough to overcome the indolence of ego, comfort and conformity that golfers – practically all – willingly admit, stand in the way. “
He has an argument.
In 2017, the owners of Rookery North installed a new set of gold tees to become the newest and shortest tees for the place. Operators noted the eagerness of female golfers flocking to the new option, which reduced the length of the course from the red tees to 4,795 yards, which was set at 5,333 yards.
Somewhat unexpectedly, the presence of the golden tees convinced many male golfers to switch from the white to the red tees. Some even admitted they moved because the red t-shirts were no longer the shortest, proving once again that too much pride is rarely a good thing.
Course operators have tried various methods to convince golfers to use the tees that best suit their skills. This choice should result in lower scores, more fun and, operationally, shorten game times.
The public golf course Chambers Bay in Washington state hosted the US Open in 2015. He presents a strong Tee It Forward message on his scorecard. The tee box labels also contain notices based on driver distance. For example, for those whose drives averaged 200-225 yards, the course prompts golfers to use the white tees at 6,105 yards.
The scorecard of the Ocean Pines Golf Club in Berlin, Md., Recommends tea boxes according to handicap, with black only for professionals, blue for 0-9, white for 10-19, gold for 20-29 and red for 30+.
Some courses in the Cape region use quieter forms of influence. Kings Creek CC uses Roman numerals for its tea box designations and avoids the phrase “white means men, red means women” in previous years. At Heritage Shores, the intermediate tees shown on the scorecard mix eight forward tees with 10 middle tee boxes to create a 5,651 yard layout. There is no par 4 longer than 363 yards and no par 5 longer than 427 yards.
The Rookery offers a red / gold hybrid setup at 5,129 yards. It seems to be a popular option with many seniors. Young golfers who are just beginning to learn the game would do well to follow their grandparents’ lead.
The Peninsula Golf & Country Club in Millsboro is offering a silver / jade hybrid set at 5,707 yards, still a tough test with its 128 slope rating.
Track operators could also consider the challenges of their track design to see if there are other ways to shorten the course, make it more enjoyable and speed up the laps.
At first glance, for example, The Rookery’s Gold Tee Dogleg Right, 436 yards par 5 sixth hole doesn’t seem to cause any significant difficulty in finding par. However, I often see women and older men struggling mightily to clear the dogleg corner off the tee. After two strokes for the turn, you are faced with the additional and important task of cleaning the pond in front of the green.
I’m not suggesting chopping down the trees at the dogleg or filling the pond. However, if you moved the gold tees up about 60 yards, it would be a lot easier to go around the corner with the first shot. That would give Shorthitter a real chance of reaching the green in three shots.
Just a thought.
Results of the local club competition
The Kings Creek Ladies 18-hole group played a team game on September 23, won by Jen Flinchbaugh, Jeannine Doane, Barbara Hines and Sheree Mixell.
Erin Reid, Kathy Casey, Prabha Karapurkar and Blind Draw Sharon Denny finished second, followed by Denny, Katie Heintz, Linda Eicher and Joanne Yurik in third place.