I want to Move Up a Tee, But…

Dear Molly: I typically play with players who bomb the ball farther than I do, and I’d love to move up to the next tee. But that would complicate our wager, not to mention I can just imagine the grief they’ll give me. Can you help me save a little face please?

Maybe you’re male, maybe you’re female, but in either case you – and maybe even your friends – are playing from tees that make the golf course too long for your game. Dave Pierce, the USGA’s Director of Research for the Green Section, says a survey of 20,000 golfers shows that about half the male players and three-fourths of the female players start too far back. Please check out “Which tees are best?” for details on how the USGA, CGA and others in the golf industry are endeavoring to remedy the situation.

The scenario you describe illustrates several reasons so many of us get this wrong. You’re feeling peer pressure. You like the camaraderie of everyone teeing off from the same place. Your pride doesn’t want you to be the only one moving up. You think you’ll slow things down. And you worry about equalizing the wager.

Molly says, “Get over it.” Dave says, “Just move up.” If you’ve got an index, you convert it to the course handicap from the tees you’re playing. So that will equalize the wager. The GHIN app will even do that for you. (If you don’t have an index or GHIN app, click here to obtain both with a CGA membership!) Tell your friends the stats, and that courses are designed with certain obstacles that aren’t coming into play for you because you can’t reach them. Tell them you want to be more fairly challenged, and you want to be able to reach the green in regulation without dropping head covers all over the course. Tell them, in short, you want to have more fun.

If you’re all walking, research indicates you’ll actually move along faster by playing your best tees. If you’re riding, try to match up cart mates by the tees they’re playing.

About 10 years ago, I played a media round with three men, all of different ages and abilities, at a course ominously called The Dragon. Each of us decided to play the tees we thought best for our games, which meant four different sets of tees. At the end, we compared our net scores, and we were all right around par. It was a happy 19th hole!

You’ll swallow your pride more easily once pars and birdies replace bogeys and doubles. And you can still hang out with your pals at their tees. Just don’t be surprised if they soon join you at yours.

Molly McMulligan, created by golf journalist and CGA member Susan Fornoff, is the CGA’s on-the-course advisor on how to have more fun on the golf course. She deeply appreciates the experiences and relationships golf has brought her as she’s played everywhere from famed Cypress Point to a remote Scottish nine that had an honors collection box at check-in. Trust us, you don’t want to take swing lessons from Molly. But if you’ve got a question about etiquette, relationships or the culture of golf in Colorado, Molly will find the answer. Send your questions along here.

Which tees are best? Let the CGA help.