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Forward Tees – Location, Location, Location, USGA Central Region Update

Posted on February 9th, 2021
February 05, 2021

Paul Jacobs, agronomist, Central Region

Providing an appropriate set of forward tees for golfers with slower swing speeds increases their enjoyment of the game and improves pace of play for everyone. 

All courses have a set of forward tees, although they may differ in name, marker color, size and yardage. The variability in forward tees can be significant between different courses and so can their level of use. As discussed in the USGA article “Rethinking Forward Tees,” decision-makers at many courses are focusing on forward tees and how to promote their use because they can improve pace of play and create more enjoyable rounds for golfers with slower swing speeds when they are properly located. So, what exactly does “properly located” mean?

Forward tees should be placed so golfers with slower swing speeds have the opportunity to reach greens in regulation and can hit a variety of clubs on their approach shots. After all, what good is a forward tee if the players using it still can’t reach greens in regulation? Shouldn’t a beginner or long-time player whose swing speed has declined be able to reach greens in regulation just like players with faster swing speeds?

To help simplify the process of calculating an appropriate yardage for the forward tees at your course, the USGA Green Section developed a forward tee calculator to quickly identify holes where additional forward tees may be necessary for golfers with slower swing speeds. The calculator uses data compiled from the PGA of America and the USGA Test Center to compare the average hitting distance of various types of golfers to the yardage of holes on your golf course. Based on the swing speed of golfers playing from each tee, the calculator will identify whether or not golfers can reach the green in regulation and what approach club they will likely hit. This information can then be used to identify problem areas and develop solutions.

The USGA Green Section’s Forward Tee Calculator quickly identifies whether your tees provide an appropriate challenge for golfers with slower swing speeds.

Simply put, forward tees can benefit everybody on the golf course. The benefit for players using them is obvious – more greens in regulation, more fun and lower scores. The improved pace of play enjoyed by golfers using an appropriate forward tee also benefits those playing in the groups behind them. If you happen to be a golfer who doesn’t struggle to reach greens in regulation and you feel like forward tees are a waste of time and money, I encourage you to imagine playing every round with only the clubs you hit shorter than 160 yards. I’m sure you can imagine that golf would be less fun and more frustrating, right? This is the reality for many golfers with slower swing speeds, but if their tees are properly located they too can experience a round of golf that provides a fair challenge and plenty of fun. Interested in using the USGA Forward Tee Calculator at your course? Sign up for a Course Consulting Service so you can work one-on-one with a USGA agronomist to identify where new forward tees can be located to improve the golfer experience at your course.

Central Region Agronomists:

Paul Jacobs, agronomist – pjacobs@usga.org

Zach Nicoludis, agronomist – znicoludis@usga.org

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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