Check the Scorecard … Then Check Your Ego
Which tees do you play from?
I mean, suppose you turn up at a golf course that you have never played before. Do you automatically head to the white tees? The blue tees? How do you decide?
I’m often contacted by NCGA members asking which set of tees they should play at xyz golf course based upon their handicap. It’s almost comical because to me the answer couldn’t be any more obvious; play from the set of tees you think you will enjoy the golf course from the most.
I say “almost comical” because for years I didn’t heed the advice that rolls off my lips so easily now. Tragically, my mindset was that I wanted to play from the back tees, period. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty.
After years of getting beat up, it finally dawned on me that some of those tees were just too much and that they were built for far better and much longer players. Hitting mid-irons into greens designed for short irons and long irons or even woods into greens designed for mid-irons just wasn’t much fun. Now when I set foot on an unfamiliar course, I first check out the scorecard.
The first thing you should do when dissecting a scorecard is look at the yardage of the course from each set of tees. After all, yardage is the most difficult obstacle on the course to overcome. Find your comfort zone. All things being equal, for me it’s around 6,800 yards. More often than not I am able to hit every club in the bag from such tees and, hopefully, have a few reasonable opportunities for birdies.
Next, I consult the Course and Slope Ratings to tell me a little something about the character of the layout and hazards each tee presents. Especially high or low values might cause me to move up or down a set of tees.
In very broad terms, the combination of ratings can be summed up by the following table.
|Course Rating||Slope Rating||Description|
|LOW||LOW||Short course, fairly tame.|
|LOW||relatively HIGH||Short course with a lot of bite, proceed with caution|
|HIGH||relatively LOW||Long course, user-friendly.|
|HIGH||HIGH||Long punishing course, proceed at your own risk (bring lots of golf balls).|
The good news is that no matter what tees you select, the Handicap System will adjust accordingly, even if you decide to play a different set of tees than others.
Speaking of maximizing your enjoyment, two fairly recent trends seem to be sweeping the region.
More and more courses are requesting men’s ratings from their forward tees and/or installing shorter tees specifically for men (primarily seniors).
More and more golf courses are developing “combo” tees — a mixture or combination of some white tees and some blue tees to offer a different look or add a little spice to your round.
In both instances the NCGA is happy to oblige and will issue men’s ratings from any and all tees that a club wishes (likewise, the two women’s associations will issue women’s ratings from additional tees upon request).
As I’ve learned the hard way, golf should be about having fun. It should not be punishment. Let your ego take a back seat to common sense.