Saturday

Golf Going Forward: A Far Shorter Path to a More Accessible Game

"Far Forward", "Fairway", "Rookie" and "Rockin Red".

These are some of the names that have been given to the extra tee box that numerous courses have installed over the past year. They're closer to the hole than the standard forward tee, and in some places they're referred to as the "fun tees".  It's easy to see why.

The game of golf is dauntingly difficult; a fact that's been loudly lamented by generations of players. We've heard it for years, from politicians, preachers and a whole slew of stand-up comics...many of whom were actually excellent players.  It's no wonder so many once hopeful golfers give up on the game each year; they simply grow weary of playing a sport they suspect they may never get good at.

Golf is a multi-faceted game, and numerous elements contribute to its high degree of difficulty. However, due to the aforementioned exodus... and a decline in golf participation over the past several years... one of those elements is being addressed at a growing number of North America golf courses.  From coast to coast a new set of tees is making golf decidedly more accessible/enjoyable for beginners... and others... who've found frustration on courses that, particularly over the past couple of decades, have become far too long and too difficult for their skill level... even from "forward tees"... because at most of today's golf courses the forward tees play at over (often well over) 5,000 yards which for many beginner / junior / senior / female-weekend / recreational golfers means lots of picking up (frustrating) or an exceedingly slow round (frustrating + annoying / inconsiderate).



Tee it Forward... the awareness campaign to encourage golfers to play from the correct tee for their ability level... was introduced by the USGA and PGA of America last year and the feedback has been promising.  As expected... because old habits die hard... there's been some rather vocal resistance, but it's clear according to a National Golf Foundation survey undertaken in July, that the movement is beginning to gain traction. However the one year survey indicated support was coming mainly from private club members and other avid golfers. I'm guessing this was partly due to awareness (72% of what the NGF calls "Golf Nuts" were aware of Tee it Forward, vs. 42% of casual golfers), but the fact that those those +5,000yrd forward tees were as forward as one could tee it at many courses may have also limited the campaign's reach  ...and that's where the Far Forward-Fairway-Rookie-Rockin Red Tees come in;  these shorter tees that numerous courses have been adding of late, allow all players to Tee it Forward... including those already playing the "forward tees".

Hopefully, this signals the trend that will take Tee it Forward to the next level, making the game more accessible to beginners and less frustrating for casual golfers.