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Who Will Embrace TEE IT FORWARD?

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All the golf sites are a buzz about the decision of the PGA of America and the United States Golf Association to propose that during the period of July 5 to July 17, all the golf courses across the nation have the players tee their ball from a forward tee. Players are to play from a tee that is determined by their average driving distance. It is hoped that by having golfers tee it more in line with their abilities that they will achieve more success, lower scores, less lost balls, and all around more enjoyment. It is also hoped that this will speed up play on the course.

The TEE IT FORWARD program is being promoted at the 72nd Senior PGA Championship, the U.S. Open Championship, and at the U.S. Women’s Open. In an attempt to make golf more enjoyable for the average player, it is hoped that more golfers will continue to play golf. The National Golf Foundation reports play decreased for the third straight year in 2010. It was not that many years ago that the forecast was for the number of people taking up golf was to grow and grow. New golf facilities were built only to sadly fall into financial difficulties from lack of play.

One group of golfers that was predicted to swell the ranks of regular players was women. However, the reality is that although many women try golf, they don’t become regular golfers.

They find the game to be difficult to learn and when they don’t have success, they give up. The TEE IT FORWARD program would allow them to start at shorter distances and possibly have greater success.

The number of hours that it takes to play a round of golf is a great deterrent for many prospective players. In most households both partners are working and by the time they do their job, look after their children, and their homes, there is not a lot of time left for recreational activities. If the TEE IT FORWARD program shortens the time spent on the golf course, it will be more attractive to this busy part of society.

The other group of golfers that should embrace TEE IT FORWARD is senior golfers. Many of them have lost distance and lost the ability to carry the golf ball over water and rough that can be in front of many tees. This group will be able to maintain their previous success by just starting a bit forward on some, if not all tees.

There are a number of other considerations that need to be addressed if the program is to gain momentum and become a fixture at all golf courses. The primary one is how to deal with the pride and ego that golfers bring to their game. Very few golfers actually know what their average distance is off a tee. When asked, most players often state a figure much larger that the fact.

As we age, most of us are reluctant to acknowledge that we are losing strength and think if we have always played off the tips, that is where we should continue to play. The changing of this mindset will be one of the biggest challenges for the TEE IT FORWARD idea.

Another obstacle is that many golf courses are not set up for a variety of forward tees. This will necessitate many new sets of tees being built. As well as the revamping of the actual teeing ground, consideration must be given to changing the markers from a color situation to a yardage one from the middle of a green marker. These markers can then be suggested based on handicap, slope, and accuracy of the players.

It is hoped that the ultimate goal of the American PGA and the United States Golf Association is enjoyment of the game. If this program is just based on speeding up play though, it may not succeed. The number of strokes taken on each hole does not necessarily create slow play. Players not being ready to play when it is their turn can contribute to it. Carts that are not allowed on fairways slow up play when players have to walk back and forth to the cart. Another contributing factor to slow play is a lack of accuracy of the golfer. A slow player can also cause it. Some golfers are just exceptionally slow.

Hopefully at least for the period of July 5 to 17, all golfers will give the TEE IT FORWARD program a fair trial.

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About Pat Tate