I’ve been playing golf for more than five decades now and one thing I see time and again in 2020 is golfers playing from the wrong set of tees.
Too often I see 12-14 handicappers playing from the blue tees and they’re hitting rescue clubs into par fours more than they want.
This week’s stop on the PGA Tour is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the old Crosby Pro-Am, aka “The Clambake.” Corporate CEOs have replaced most of the celebrities, there are a few big names in there this week.
Pebble Beach Golf Links is the real star and it plays 6,828 from the back tees, 6,454 from the Gold, 6,116 from the White and 5,249 from the Red tees.
Tony Romo is the strongest celebrity player in the field, he’s a scratch (zero). Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a one, country singer Jake Owen’s a two, so is surfing champ Kelly Slater. Baseball pitching ace Justin Verlander carries a five, All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is an eight. Peyton Manning gets eight, Packer QB Aaron Rodgers is a nine. Actor Ray Romano probably needs more than his 15, country star Toby Keith is a 16 and the ever-present Bill Murray is probably better than the 16 he gets.
So back to the tee box dilemma.
Most average golfers play from the wrong tees — typically too far back, playing a course that’s too long. It is one reason rounds take too long. Here’s a simple formula to help determine the length of golf course you should play.
Take your seven-iron carry yardage and multiply that by 18 (for me, 144 x 18 = 2,592); then take your drive yardage (be honest) and multiply that by 14 (for me, 220 x 14 = 3,080). Add the two numbers and you’ll get a total yardage (5,672 for me). That’s the range you should play. My drives vary depending on roll. On a fast course, I can sneak a few out there to the 250 mark. But into a strong wind, a drive might go 200. On the first tee at Kingsbarns on the Scottish coast last October, it was blowing 40 miles per hour. Crushed a sweet, piercing medium-trajectory tee shot and it went a whopping 190.
The yardage you play will depend on how much roll you get. On a firm and fast course, you might be able to move up 300-400 yards. On a firm course, 6,200 to 6,300 is okay for me.
So use the formula, best honest with your yardages and play from the proper set of tees. The game will become a lot more enjoyable.