Tee It Forward! How To Choose The Best Tee Box For Your Game!

A lot of golfers today, play the game from the wrong tee box! And then we all wonder why the game seems to hang up with slow play.

For years the tee boxes at golf clubs were designated not by position or color, but by the title: “ladies tees,” “men’s tees,” “pro tees” or some such variation. As a result it was considered unusual or at least unexpected for a woman to play from the men’s tee box or unheard of for a guy to set up his shot from the “ladies tee” box. Result? It didn’t matter how long or short you drove your ball, you were stuck in a tee box that might not be appropriate for your game. Guys, especially those just beginning the game or seniors who could no longer hit those long drives were forced to play from tee boxes that were too far from the green to ever get on in regulation. And a woman who hit a long ball had to adjust her drive and shorten up on the stick.

No longer! Get your head around it. The PGA and USGA have teamed up to support TEE IT FORWARD!

TEE IT FORWARD encourages all golfers to play the course at a length that is aligned with their average driving distance. Golfers can speed up play by utilizing tees that provide the greatest playability and enjoyment.

“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.”

Practically speaking, what does this mean? Forget the old designations for tee boxes! Think of them now as FORWARD TEES, MIDDLE TEES, BACK TEES. You play the game from the tee box that is appropriate for your average driving distance. Here’s a chart from the PGA.com website you can use as a reference.

 Driver Distance Recommended 18-Hole Yardage
 275  6,700 – 6,900
 250  6,200 – 6,400
 225  5,800 – 6,000
 200  5,200 – 5,400
 175  4,400 – 4,600
 150  3,500 – 3,700
 125  2,800 – 3,000
 100  2,100 – 2,30


Here’s an example of how this works: Let’s say you are about to play 18 holes at a course that is a total of 5,200 yards if played from the Blue or Back Tees and only 4,400 yards if played from the Red or Forward Tees. Your average drive goes 175 yards. From which tee box should you play?

If your club is following the new TEE IT FORWARD program, you should be playing from the Forward Tees. Not only are you giving yourself a chance for a better score, but you will be hitting fewer shots, lose fewer balls and have an overall better experience. However, if your average driving distance is closer to 200 yards, you should step back and play from the Back Tees.

As far as adjusting your handicap to the new system, you simply input the appropriate tee box information when you post your scores. The computer does the rest.

If you still need encouragement, here is a quote from Jack Nicklaus who is a proponent of the new system: (from the PGA website) Jack 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.

“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 is their scorecard and their overall enjoyment. This program should help stimulate people to play the proper tees and maximize the golf experience.”

What do you think? Is it time to change the mindset and the system? Pick up the pace of golf? If more golf clubs adopted this new program I believe the game would be that much more enjoyable for everyone.

What do you think?

  9 comments for “Tee It Forward! How To Choose The Best Tee Box For Your Game!

  1. Nancy Joiner
    November 11, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I am a 71 year old lady that didn’t start playing golf until I was 65. I am excited if I get 110 yards on a drive and very rarely get 100 yards on a fairway shot. I am getting better, but it is frustrating playing from forward tees of 4300 to 5200 yards especially with ladies who have played much longer than I. We live on an older course (not a golf course community, however). We joined a few years ago when my husband retired, and I took lessons and joined the LGA. But we have now left the club and I now play mostly by myself. I did not rejoin the handicap system. When the PGA started the “tee it forward” I decided to play the “junior tees” that were on the course. But the front 9 tees were constantly being moved around for kids to play. I discovered from looking at the ratings for our club on the GSGA website that they WERE rated at 4,000 yards (still too long for me but better than the 4500 that was considered the senior ladies tees. I approached the club leaders about putting the tees in the correct place and they DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THE WERE RATED or what the yardages were!! They told me I was wrong until they looked at the GSGA site themselves. Finally a previous club Pro found me the yardages but there wasn’t much interested in putting them in the right place. Even the ladies I played with made comments that it wouldn’t be fair for me to play the shorter tees in our little weekly tournaments (we played points) when everyone else played the “regular” tees. Even the wife of the Board Chairman in my presence made the comment against golfers moving up to shorter tees and made the sarcastic remark “We have too many scratch golfers as is!” She was referring to men golfers as well but looked right at me when she said it. Well, I am a long way from being a scratch golfer no matter what tees I hit from and it also made me realize they didn’t really understand the handicap system! Anyway, recently I joined a muni course about 10 miles from my house for $200.00 a year (just pay $7 and $14 cart fees for 9 or 18). The total yardage for the forward tees is over 4300, but the front 9 is all par 4 and short reachable (for me!) par 3’s. About 1950 yards. I am enjoying playing the front 9 (mostly by myself) even though I still have trouble reaching the par 4’s. I don’t write my score down most of the time as I don’t ever plan to play with a group where handicap is needed. I just want to play for fun and for excercise. And I don’t have to worry about “catty” remarks from other ladies.

    • Pat Mullaly
      November 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      Nancy, sounds like you are a very dedicated golfer. Too bad the ladies in your club don’t understand the handicap system properly. I’m sorry you don’t feel comfortable playing with them, but don’t give up. Get out there and just have fun. No matter what, golf is a great way to get some exercise and hopefully you will meet other women or men, who are playing for the same reason— to keep fit and have fun. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Linda Bartosik
    August 3, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Never thought about this! Brilliant new way of looking at it!

  3. Susan Gauff
    August 1, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Well . . . you have stumbled into a major issue for me. I couldn’t agree more with this philosophy but show me a golf course that has tees at 3500 yards and I’ll play it in a jiffy. It’s so much fun to reach greens in regulation. What a thrill to hit a drive and an 8 iron on a 250 – 260 yard hole.

    The first private club I belonged to was so long that I could not reach ANY green in regulation. What a boring game — par fours: two woods and a chip; par fives: three woods and a chip. The good news out of this is that I can chip really well 🙂

    As a board member of a very fine private club in the northeast, I constantly fought to have a shorter course set up and rated for handicap purposes. This was mostly opposed by the women in the club who didn’t want to “dumb down” the course. We had a group of big hitters who played from the gold tees anyway. Why should they care?

    Typically when you encounter a hole shorter than 300 yds. they are designed with very difficult green areas. The architect was thinking about 8 iron or wedge to the green and surrounded the hole with bunkers or water. I’m hitting 7 wood, 5 iron if I’m lucky. Is that fair?

    Last weekend I played in a regional EWGA tournament in Myrtle Beach area on a course advertised as one of the 50 most friendly to women courses in the US. It played to 4981 for the tournament. Guess I should have been hitting my drives 200 yards (fat chance). And another thing: what about those courses that have carries longer than most women can hit? At least the EWGA recognized that by making drop areas available on the other side of hazards. But why should anyone have to sacrifice a shot?

    You’ve got me on my soapbox about this one. If Jack Nicklaus really wants “tee it forward” to work, he better design some courses to his published specs. I checked out his design company website and looked at forward yardages from 8 of them. Average: 5036! ! ! Shortest: 4732 Longest: 5255. It’s time to act: go back, Jack, to all your courses and implement one or two more sets of tees: this time under 4500 yards.

    • Pat Mullaly
      August 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Susan… very well said. It really is all about getting reasonable tees in place. And if someone doesn’t want to use them, they don’t have to… As long as the tees are rated properly your handicap is not affected! The rating manages all that for you. Of course, getting tees rated costs $$$ which might be why clubs resist!

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