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How to select the proper tees to play from (What tees you should play from)

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Unless you are a professional golfer or playing in a competitive tournament, the main goal for every round should be to have fun, and a big part of having fun means selecting the correct tees to play from. But it doesn’t stop at just picking the correct tee color, you need to consider the yardage because the “middle tees” on one course might not equate to the middle tees on another.

The wonderful thing about golf is that as an individual pursuit, even when playing with other golfers each player can choose to play from different yardages while on the same course to ensure that they are getting maximum enjoyment from their round.

Rules for selecting the right tees to play from

There are a number of ways to quickly and easily figure out which yardage and tee you should play from. The PGA of America offers a guideline chart to allow golfers to reference their driving distance which then recommends total course yardage.

GolfWRX: Average driving distance for male golfers

An important thing to keep in mind for those golfers that fall into the category of playing yardage that might not actually be available on the standard scorecard is you can simply tee up from an area in the fairway in front of the traditional tee decks to make each hole as short as you would like. As mentioned off the top, unless you are playing in a competitive round being ruled by a governing body, you should be making decisions to have fun.

Iron distance formula for picking the right tees

Another popular formula for selecting the correct set of tees to play from is based on 5-iron distance, if you do not use a 5-iron specifically, you can reference your 5-hybrid or a 9-wood.

5 iron distance X 36 = the total yardage

By using this method to select the correct yardage, you will be put in a position to hit similar approach shots into greens as other players that might be playing from different yardage. For example, if a golfer playing from the middle tee deck on a par 3 is hitting a 7-iron, you should also be playing from a yardage that allows you to a 7-iron or equivalent club give or take one club up or down.

“Let’s start at the forward yardage, and if we’re having too much fun and making too many birdies, we can move back one” – Scottish caddy saying

USGA – Choosing the right tees to play

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Ryan Barath is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. ChipNRun

    Jan 25, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    One consideration is what time of year it is. From November through March the ball just doesn’t roll out very much due to softer ground, and leaf clumps in the fairway. Plus, my muscles don’t feel as fluid at 50* and overcast as they do at 85* and sunny.

    In November through March, I play the Senior tees (5,300). Once things warm up a bit, I move back to the Middle tees (5,800).

  2. JB

    Jan 18, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    My pro believes if you are playing the right set of tees you should be have the chance to hit 1-2 of the 3 or 4 par 5s in two giving yourself an eagle putt.

    Remember he said have a chance of doing it – not necessarily doing it every round.

  3. Dennis

    Dec 17, 2020 at 12:39 am

    Regarding the 5-iron-formula: Is it carry or total distance? Is it a strong or traditional lofted 5 iron?

    • Steve Frishmuth

      Dec 31, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Really…..

      • DrP

        Aug 8, 2022 at 5:08 pm

        Yes, really, it’s a great question that makes a huge difference. My 6 iron is lofted more like a traditional 5 iron (some sets like Callaway Mavrik lofts are even a full club stronger than mine). If I use my “6” iron distance that’s really closer to a 5, that gives me 6,300 yards.

        I don’t even play a regular 5 iron, I have a 5 hybrid that is lofted more like a 4, if I use that distance, I get a tee recommendation of 7,020 yards. This is a massive difference and I really don’t think I’m a 7,000 yard tee kind of golfer.

        If I used the regular 5 iron from my set that’s really closer to a 4 in loft I imagine I’d be around 6,700 or so tee distance.

        Are you getting the picture? Without more specific parameters (say a set loft for the calculation), it is essentially useless. Personally, I think my 6 iron is pretty close and I tend to play Tees 6,100 – 6,400 in length.

  4. X flex

    Dec 15, 2020 at 11:50 am

    X Flex ? and play from the tips…. these are the wanna bees that clog up the course. Oh, and the guys that drive the ball 225 and wait for the green to clear on par fives so they can hit their 275 yard shot?

    • RAY

      Dec 21, 2020 at 8:55 am

      Yeah, exactly.
      They hit 225 with a driver, but wait to hit into the par 5 (275) with their 3 wood?? huh?
      Result? About 205 with a cut into the trees.

      Priceless.

  5. Rick Flynn

    Dec 15, 2020 at 10:28 am

    This is WRX though. We will never get anyone to admit how far they really hit their driver or 5 iron. Slow play continues…

    • John

      Dec 21, 2020 at 9:00 am

      ahhhh yes…

      The incredibly fragile male ego. its a curse on the game.
      The equipment manufactures love them though. LOL

  6. Boo

    Dec 14, 2020 at 9:59 am

    This is a terrible way to determine which tees to play from. This should be based on your handicap. Using formula means bernhard langer and I should use the same tees… Cmon man.

    • NP

      Dec 16, 2020 at 11:08 am

      disagree. Remember this is for when ‘playing for fun’. Handicap is NOT an indicator of driving distance.

      • Obee

        Dec 16, 2020 at 3:42 pm

        Nor should driving distance determine where you play from — solely.

  7. William Davis

    Dec 14, 2020 at 9:32 am

    I look forward to joining the Ladies – if they’ll have me.

  8. Tom Duckworth

    Dec 14, 2020 at 9:24 am

    It a pain when you get stuck behind a group that thinks they need to play from the back tees when they don’t have the game for it. When it’s busy you can’t play through because there’s a group in front. So please put your egos aside and play the proper tees.It will only help pace of play.

    • Dosier88

      Dec 30, 2020 at 7:45 pm

      A shank into the woods and looking for the ball for 10 minutes is the same no matter what tee it was shanked from IMO.

  9. Ajit Pillai

    Dec 13, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    I keep it even easier. If I can’t reach a par 4 with my driver or 3 wood and my 4 iron (I carry a hybrid) then I’m on the wrong tees. I don’t care what the total yardage is, it’s the par 4’s I focus on. Currently I’m good for 445-450 par four with Driver/4 iron under normal conditions.

    • Mike

      Dec 20, 2020 at 10:00 am

      Great way to look at it. For me, if I can’t reach the average par 4 on a course w/ a driver & 4H, time to move up tees. Par 5 & par 3 distances are irrelevant; on any tee distance I would consider playing from, most par 5’s are a 3 shot hole & I can probably reach any par 3.

      But based on my driving distance (210 yds), I should play at what, 5,600 yds? That’s ABSURD, unless I wanted to purely feed my ego. But I CRINGE when I see folks heading to the back tees. Watching 1 or 2 of your swings, I can tell if they belong there. Most of the time, they DON’T.
      And I know it’s gonna be a long & frustrating round. BTW, when you aren’t good & are playing from the back tees, please don’t insult my intelligence & tell me this just happens to be your worst round of the season!

  10. Dennis Beach

    Dec 13, 2020 at 9:25 am

    I play the white tees all the time at every course I play. The distances on the courses I play are less than 7000 yds., and some of the blue tees are so far back, that it is over 200 yds.to the fairway, so the white tees cut this in half or less. 25+ hdcp. with no golf ego, and being 64, and never was a long hitter. I average 200-220 on my drives, so I know what tees to play from to have the most fun.

    • NP

      Dec 16, 2020 at 11:11 am

      You should play about 6000 yard tees. You’ll have more fun.

  11. George Gearhart

    Dec 12, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    I am a 75 year old 8 handicapper who averages about 200 yards off the tee, but I hit my 3Wd about 190 off the fairway. If I don’t hit the greens on Par 4s over 380 there a pretty good chance I can get up and down in one, certainly two, which means I will usually be hitting Par 5s with an 8 iron or less with GIR more often than not. I have a very good short game and can average low 80s from most White Tees and shot 76 three times this year. So I would say there are acceptions to the driver distance for tee selections.

    • Jack Matthews

      Dec 13, 2020 at 3:14 pm

      I agree. I’m 70 and my drives are usually between 190 to 210 unless it’s really cold and/or wet. However, I usually play from 6250 yards. Obviously to break 80 I have to chip and putt well. A lot of the guys with which I play are sometimes 30 to 40 yards longer than me, but I usually score the same or better than them as I rarely miss a fairway. If one has a really good short game and is a great putter he (or she) can overcome being short off the tee.

    • CV

      Dec 30, 2020 at 8:34 am

      Sir, you are an inspiration. Keep it going. I wish I could get in the 70’s.

    • Matt S

      Jan 13, 2021 at 3:31 pm

      Some good thoughts put together by various respondents. I would agree that distance and handicap should both be considered in determining an appropriate tee colour.
      However, I would suggest that most golfers should not play one tee colour only, but play another tee colour occasionally for a different challenge and experience. Also, suggested tee colours should always be guidelines and not obligatory.

  12. Redo Mulligan

    Dec 12, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    Tell that to Dechambeau

  13. Bruce Helbig

    Dec 12, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    If you are hitting more than a 7 iron into the greens for your second shot on most par 4 holes, move up. There fixed it for you.

    • Carolyn

      Dec 16, 2020 at 9:03 am

      My favorite is still the young guy’s that drive it 300 or more then miss the green from 80 YRDS. chilly dip their chip, second chip 15 feet past hole and then two putt…mean while my partner and I smash our 220 yard drive, get close to the green with our 7 wood, chip close to hole and one putt. First hole we are two up….and the pattern continues till we shoot 85 and the long boys are trying to figure out why they both shot 97?

    • NP

      Dec 16, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Agreed. And unless your playing for money, don’t be influenced by the others in your group.

      • John

        Dec 21, 2020 at 9:17 am

        Agree, Ironically the last part of your comment is where most golfers get their self esteem from. They are more concerned with what they think than anything else, even if the average handicap is 30.

        Not sure who said this but its got a lot of truth built in.
        “The less people know about something”, the more they talk about it”

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie reviews: Ping’s new i230 irons

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Reviewing the new Ping i210 irons was something I was very excited to do. After all the success with the i210 irons, on tour and in amateur bags, Ping had some large shoes to fill. But in the early stages of the release they seem to have filled those shoes quite nicely. For the full review listen to the Club Junkie podcast below or on your favorite podcast platform, just search GolfWRX Radio.

The i230 irons are engineered for distance control and tight dispersion for aspiring golfers. They aren’t as demanding as the Blueprint or i59 but offer a lower flight and more workability compared to the G425. This class of irons that the i210 is in fits my game as a barely single digit handicap who is looking for some forgiveness in a smaller package.

Out of the box the i210 looks great. The look from the back is sleek and if you didn’t look closely wouldn’t even notice the badge in the cavity. That badge is matching silver and has just a couple subtle lines in it, almost giving the look of a smaller players cavity back. The head size is a little larger than a Titleist T100s or a PXG 0311T but still looks good because Ping kept everything in proportion. The blade length is a little longer but you don’t notice it much with the slightly thicker topline and small amount of offset. To me the i230 looks like a players club that also gives you the confidence that you don’t have to strike the dead center in order to hit a solid shot.

Ping added a large elastomer insert behind the badge to dial in the sound and feel of the i230 irons and that technology seems to work. The feel is solid and responsive while still be a little firmer at impact. You can hear a little click as the club connects with the ball, but the vibration that gets to your hands in minimal and far from harsh. Responsiveness is really good and you get ample feed back on how good, or not so good, your contact on the face was.

Well struck shots launch pretty easily into the air and fly with a flat apex towards your target. My expectations for the i230 were that they would be low launch and spin, but they were much more playable than that. The i230 launched almost 2 degrees higher than my PXG 0311T Gen5 irons that I have been gaming most of this year. The overall apex was also lower and flatter with the i230 cruising at 76.7 feet above the grass compared to 82.8 feet for the PXG. The i230 were very forgiving and dispersion was very tight. I felt like there was a little less left in my misses and the ball started out on a straighter path.

If I brought a terrible swing I could still get the ball to go left, but on good and decent swings shots stayed online and at the target. My miss recently has been out on the toe and the ball speed and height on shots out there were very playable. Shots that were low on the face didn’t get up as high and as fast as some other irons, but still carried a decent amount and total distance would have depended on the roll.

Ping doesn’t really jump up and down to say that the i230 are wildly long but they added about 2 yards compared to my gamer irons. They also spun about 300 RPM more than the 0311T irons but still produced a really boring trajectory, even into a pretty strong wind. There was no rise or ballooning of any sort, even with shots that had some fade to them.

Overall the new Ping i230 irons are really good and we should see them in a lot of bags. The lower launch, distance control, and forgiveness will open these up to a wide range of players and provide excellent performance.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: A bunker experiment

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Based on my observations and feedback from recreational golfers of all skill levels, I believe one of the most puzzling and challenging of all shots for most golfers is the greenside bunker “explosion” shot. Far too many times, the result is either making a swing that is way too steep and plows the clubhead into the sand, or it’s the exact opposite – catching the ball right “in the forehead” and skulling it across the green into who-knows-what kind of new trouble. In either case, the end result is a blow-up hole that puts a double bogey or worse on the card.

And the damage to your psyche is much worse than that done to your card.

Besides the visual and mental intimidation of finding your ball in the bunker, we recreational golfers are faced with a super-wide variety of lies and sand textures, unlike the tour players who see essentially the same bunker texture week after week. In contrast, on my own private club course, for example, we have bunkers ranging from wet packed sand (almost mud) to dry fluffy sand several inches thick. In contrast to the tour professionals, we “mere mortals” have a constantly changing set of obstacles in the bunkers, each requiring a different approach.

Let’s start with the basic premise of the bunker shot we have all been taught. While there are slightly varying instructional directions for the execution of the swing, most teach that you should make contact about two inches behind the ball. And it’s often taught that this is the easiest shot in golf, because you don’t even have to hit the ball. I’ve always challenged that notion, because on EVERY OTHER SHOT I face, I am trying to make precise contact with the ball, from driver to putter. So, since those few bunker shots in a round require me to abandon my primary objective . . . couldn’t that possibly make bunker shots the hardest?

Anyway, back to the topic at hand . . . is there a different way to approach bunker shots that might help you improve your up-and-down percentage and significantly reduce those left-in-the-sand or skulled-over-the-green disasters? I believe there is, and I’ve been doing some experimenting with a different approach lately that is showing great promise.

What I’ve been doing is approaching bunker shots in very much the same way I execute any delicate greenside pitch, that is to view it as just another pitch shot, albeit from a more challenging lie than if the ball were sitting on the fairway or light rough. My goal is to make the wedge contact the ball and the sand at just about the same time, and just vary my swing power based on the texture of the sand – wet sand will “reject” the club more than dry, softer sand, requiring less power, much as tight firm turf will reject the club more than a softer lie in the rough.

As I play around with this approach, it seems much easier than trying to actually hit the sand some “measured” distance behind the ball, which also makes it easier for me to judge the distance I need the ball to fly and how much roll out I can expect. What’s most interesting for me is that as I began to experiment with this technique in the practice bunker, I paid close attention to where it “looked like” I was making contact with the sand. I put that in quotes because the sole of the wedge splashes out a large and clearly defined divot, so it really does look like I’m making contact further behind the ball than I really am.

If you are already an accomplished bunker player, my bet is that you are actually making contact much closer to the ball than the proverbial “two inch rule”, and kudos to you for figuring this out.

But for the majority of you out there who find a bunker shot a bit more challenging and fear-inducing, I highly recommend spending even a half hour in the practice bunker giving this “new” method a try. You still want to make a deliberate but relaxed swing and keep your angle of attack as shallow as possible so the bounce in your sand wedge’s sole can do what it was designed to do.

I’m sure we all would appreciate you sharing your own results and discovery with the rest of us.

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Opinion & Analysis

Kelley: Learn when to train and when to perform

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Regardless of what you may be working on in your swing, it is imperative to understand when to train your swing and game and when to perform on the golf course. Being able to switch mindsets and understand where to place your attention when training your technique and playing on the course will dramatically improve your scores.

Training Your Technique

To start, go to the driving range with a plan. Rather than hitting countless seven irons with no structure in mind, decide where you are going to place your attention on and what your intent is when practicing. If training a new technique, be mindful of your body and club with each swing. This usually should be done slowly. Remember you have to learn a new movement slowly, before fast. This requires discipline and understanding contact may not be ideal when so thoughtful.

On top of slow, training the “technique based swings”, practice hitting different ball-flight shots. (This will be discussed more on performance). If you normally slice the ball from left to right, place an alignment stick five yards in front of you and learn to hit golf balls right to left, drawing the ball around the stick. This will develop shaft and face awareness.

You can also simply place your attention on good contact. With each shot, note where on the clubhead the ball is struck. Practice off-speed shots making contact on the center, heel and toe of the face. Research shows intentionally practicing hitting the ball off center will actually facilitate center contact.

With most golfers having limited time to practice, don’t undervalue the importance of practicing at home. Simply grab a club and train your swing inside or outside your home. This is a great opportunity to slow down the swing, programming the brain with the new movement. If you have a mirror, practice looking into the mirror face-on to get feedback on how your body is moving. If you are outside and the sun is out, simply stand with your shadow directly in front of you at 12 o’clock, noting the shape of the shadow (your body) as you swing.

Learning to Perform

When on the golf course, it is a time to shoot the lowest score possible. This sounds like an obvious statement, although it is a simple concept that is often overlooked. The work you have done on your swing on the driving range and at home will morph into your swing on the golf course. This is also a time to focus more on the ball flight, not what your swing looks like.

“Ask what is wrong with your golf shot, not your golf swing“ – Karl Morris, The Mind Factor. This is a powerful and very effective question you can ask yourself on the golf course. Your post-shot routine is just as important as the pre-shot routine. Paying attention to what your ball is doing will give you a clear understanding of where to place your mind on each shot. Being able to adapt on the golf course with what you have that day and what to slightly change is critical to playing great golf.

Rather than trying to create the swing to create the shot on the golf course, which can lead to frustration, let the shot create the swing. In other words, ask yourself, “What does this shot feel like?” in order to get the ball from point A to point B. This is inclusive to the individual, and where practicing shaping the ball in your practice session plays dividends, so you can adapt on the course. This question may develop a certain feel or simple technical thought that has been developed with your coach.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of your attitude. Remember that having the chance to be on a golf course playing this great game is a privilege. Embrace the fact that Golf will never be mastered, and there is always a learning curve, even for the best players in the world. Embracing this challenge will make your good shots better and your bad shots not as bad.

http://www.kelleygolf.com

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