Playing from the right tee, a decade of slow progress

By |  September 27, 2021 0 Comments
Tee it Forward (Chart: National Golf Foundation)

Tee it Forward (Chart: National Golf Foundation)

Despite surveys showing golfers who select the right tee height have more fun and enjoy a faster pace of play, progress in getting players to pay attention to tees has been slow, according to National Golf Foundation President and CEO Joseph F Beditz, Ph.D.

“Behavioral changes in consumers and operators require a lot of time, effort and intervention,” Beditz said. “National advertising helps create needed awareness but is insufficient to overcome the inertia of ego, convenience and conformity, which golfers – virtually all of them – willingly admit stand in the way.”

The PGA of America and the USGA launched the Tee it Forward campaign a decade ago to encourage golfers to select the correct tee for their playing styles. The initiative was inspired by the thinking of Barney Adams, founder of Adams Golf, who argued many golfers were playing from tees that were too long given how far they hit their drives.

A television PSA featuring Jack Nicklaus spoke to golfers.

NGF recently surveyed core golfers and learned that 73 percent could recall Tee It Forward, but only 30 percent had actually moved up in the past decade – most of them older than 50. Those who did have almost unanimously enjoyed the benefits. Three-quarters say their scores improved, and even more (80 percent) say they’ve had more fun.

A strong majority of core golfers (more than 80 percent) believe that golfers playing from inappropriate tees is a big problem. As many as one-third of core golfers (approximately 4 million) currently play from tees that are too long for them.

At launch, Adams said the Tee It Forward campaign would be a long and arduous process.

Some golf course operators are successfully encouraging customers to play the correct tees. Cathy Harbin uses an age-based effort at her Pine Ridge Golf Course facility in Paris, Texas, and the Longleaf Golf & Family Club in Southern Pines, N.C., created a tee system based on driving distance.

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