Tee It Forward

“Tee It Forward”, the new national initiative to be proposed for golf facilities nationwide, encourages all golfers to play the course at a length that is best suited to their game and abilities. With “Tee It Forward”, golfers can potentially speed up play and have more fun by utilizing tees that provide the greatest playability and enjoyment. That’s why The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association are pleased to jointly support “Tee It Forward”. The chart below is to be used as a guideline to help golfers potentially align their average driving distance with the length of a course that is best suited to their abilities.

Why Tee It Forward?

To help golfers have more fun on the course and enhance their overall experience by playing from a set of tees best suited to their abilities, The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association have partnered to support “Tee It Forward”, a new national initiative to be proposed for golf facilities nationwide from July 5-17.

Golfers can speed up play by utilizing tees that provide the greatest playability and enjoyment. The program will be promoted this week, at the 72nd Senior PGA Championship, and at both the U.S. Open Championship in June and the U.S. Women’s Open Championship in July.


What Others Are Saying About...Tee It Forward

President of USGA

The passion that golfers have for our game has the potential to be enhanced by the Tee It Forward initiative, said Jim Hyler, president of the United States Golf Association. This is an innovation that we think will appeal to golfers of all skill levels because it gives them a new challenge that better aligns with their abilities. We hope that Tee It Forward will be embraced by players and golf facilities across the country.

Tee It Forward is not necessarily about creating a new set of tees—many facilities already have multiple tees in use every day, (however some courses should consider adding more tees). It is about changing the mind-set of golfers in a positive way—encouraging people to consider setting aside playing from 6,500-6,700 yards and moving up to a length of 6,000-6,200 yards or moving from 6,000-6,200 yards to 5,700-5,800 yards.

The 6,700-yard course that many amateur golfers play today is proportionally equivalent to a PGA Tour player competing on a course measuring 8,100 yards—700 yards or longer than a typical PGA Tour layout.

Tee It Forward encourages all golfers to play the course at a length that is aligned with their average driving distance (see chart for guidelines) Remember that the average male golfer hits his drives 225 yards. Ladies hit approximately 175 yards.

Westminster Pro

It comes from Adams, an incisive thinker with a populist bent. The inventor of the Tight Lies fairway wood and a former club fitter who spent years studying how people really hit the ball as opposed to how they think they do, Adams cant stop analyzing golfers. Carrying a 9-handicap at 72, Adams started noticing that his playing partners, all avid regular golfers, would play par 4s from tees that required them to hit woods and hybrids for approaches — when they could reach the green at all. I began to think it was like golfers have had a toothache for a long time, Adams says. They have gotten used to the wrong thing.

In trying to figure out what the right thing should be, Adams first considered tour pros and how they rarely need more than a middle iron for an approach. We watch them and think, Man, it would be fun to play the game like that. Adams says…Well, we can.

Adams came up with a system he calls Tour Length. He calculated that for a pro to hit the same clubs on approaches as an amateur averaging 230-yard drives on a 6,700-yard course, the pro course would have to measure at least 8,100 yards. Conversely, for the 230-yard drive to hit the same clubs into greens as the pro would on a 7,300-yard layout, the amateur would have to play at no more than 6,200 yards.

By Adams calculation, this means the amateur who drives the ball 200 yards (closer to what the average golfer achieves) should be playing courses measuring about 6,000 yards. Many women, routinely forced to play tees in the 5,600-yard range despite hitting drives of about 140 yards, should be playing from approximately 4,600 yards. Adams posted his findings on the Internet (in the January Golf Digest, he advocated moving up a set of tees), and he received a positive response. But his persistence at lobbying for his idea was most meaningfully rewarded by American golf\’s powers that be. Beginning in late May, the USGA, the PGA of America and the GCSAA will begin a campaign — with the tentative handle of Play It Forward — to convince golfers to move up. It will start with television segments during the Senior PGA Championship, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women\’s Open. Then the organizations will urge course operators across the nation to set aside two weeks beginning July 5, in which they ask customers to play from a shorter set of tees, following Adams\’ guidelines.

We really think this could be a very good thing for the game, says USGA executive director Mike Davis. We want to get the message out that playing shorter golf courses with less rough will increase enjoyment. Adams is gratified at the support and hopes the effort will be aggressive. This has to be a movement, so that in essence it becomes the new golf, he says. I believe this is legacy stuff for these guys. But it is crucial that the message be a leveling of the playing field between the amateurs and the professionals. If you don\’t get that message across, you lose.

Adams biggest worry is the power and stubbornness of the male ego. That is the highest hurdle, he says. Amateurs who think they can hit pro-type shots and want to play from back tees do not realize that with equipment advances they are farther behind where pros hit the ball than ever. What was maybe a 40-yard difference 25 years ago is now 75 yards. Those are the guys who say, Gee, Barney, you have a great idea. I hope they do something about it. I say to them, Who the hell is THEY? YOU ARE THEY.

Adams emphasizes that his proposal is more nuanced than mathematical shortening. He wants to stagger tees so that short par 3s maintains their length but at least one par 5 per course is reachable in two for the average player. I think it\’ll encourage people to think more about their shots to the green, rather than just blasting another wood, he says.

That brings in shot making, even for an average player, and that Is what really makes the game interesting. For all that, Adams doesn\’t believe scoring will be dramatically affected.

Maybe a 13-handicap becomes a 10, he says. That\’s where the USGA would have to really get involved, to make sure handicaps don\’t lose equitableness. This is about a change of habits, which is always hard, Adams says, but I think golfers are more aware than ever that the game lost its way, and a correction is needed. If they — make that we — are able to check egos at the golf-shop door, Adams has contributed a big idea whose time has come.

—Ray Thorpe

PGA Pro Golfer

Who shares the record with Walter Hagen for most PGA Championship titles with five and also shares the U.S. Open record with four victories, is a proponent of Tee It Forward. Unfortunately golfers are masochists, they want a challenge but they end up playing the wrong tees. I love the game of golf but I will be the first to tell you that there are things about our game we need to improve, Nicklaus said. Now The PGA of America and the USGA have come together to develop ways to that can make the game more attractive and more enjoyable. Tee It Forward is the first of many initiatives we have discussed together, and I think families around the country will enjoy alternate formats like this to make the game more fun.

All of us deeply involved in the game constantly encourage golfers of all skill levels to play the proper tees, but too often golfers want to bite off as much of the golf course as they can. What ends up suffering are their scorecard and their overall enjoyment. This program should help stimulate people to play the proper tees and maximize the golf experience.

Originator of the Idea

Founder of Adams Golf, provided the concept that led to TEE IT FORWARD. By playing from forward tees, amateur golfers have the chance to play the course at the same relative distance as a touring professional would over 18 holes. The playing field is leveled by giving golfers the opportunity to play from distances that are properly aligned with their abilities. PGA OF AMERICA PRESIDENT SAYS: Simply put, TEE IT FORWARD can make golf much more fun for millions of people, said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. We believe that by moving up to another set of tees, golfers will experience an exciting, new approach to the game that will produce more enjoyment and elevate their desire to come back and play even more golf.

With many more golfers hitting approach shots with 6- and 7-irons instead of hybrids and long irons, their chances for enjoyment increase. Also, playing from forward tees should result in fewer overall shots, shorter distance traveled on each hole, and potentially, fewer lost balls.