Playing the Proper Tees

When you arrive at a golf course to spend the next four hours of your day, you are there to have fun and enjoy yourself, right? So why is it that I see 15-20 handicaps head to the first tee and tee it up between the Black tees to play the course at its absolute longest possible yardage. This is simply setting yourself up for a long day of fairway woods, hybrids and long irons into the green and ultimately, a lot of big numbers on that scorecard and a poor overall experience of the course. This is a problem that can be solved quite easily. Play the proper set of tees for your golf game! For this article I am going to use the Shilo Country Club as the main example of how golf courses are and need to adapt to make the game more enjoyable for its customers.

Shilo Country Club is a course in the Westman area that offers as good of conditions as you can find in the area. High scores cannot be blamed on patchy lies in the fairway or slow bumpy greens so why is it that many golfers find Shilo a difficult course to play?Working at the Shilo Country Club for the past 6 years, I have heard golfers say many times that they play elsewhere because Shilo is "too difficult" and if they are playing the wrong set of tees I would agree. A golfer who averages under 250 yards off the tee (a typical distance for most golfers) will be hard pressed to find an easy approach into any green at ShiloCC when playing the Black Tees (6,625 yards). However, put that golfer at the Blue Tees (6,205 yards) they are now roughly 25 yards closer to the green after their tee shot and that 4 iron approach that they had from the Black tees is now a 6 or 7 iron approach from the Blue tees. I think we can all agree that makes for an easier more enjoyable round of golf! This is only an example of how a course can be made more difficult than it needs to be simply by starting the hole from the wrong spot.

Shilo Country Club offers many tee options for golfers of all skill levels and in 2016 they are expanding on these options. The three tee options and yardages at ShiloCC are as follows, Black- 6,625 yards, Blue- 6,205 yards, White- 5,230 yards. As you can see there is a large yardage gap between the Blue and White tee markers thus a large gap in options for golfers that should be playing the course at a yardage in that area. The staff at ShiloCC decided that there needed to be an offering in the 5,700 yard range in order to make the course more enjoyable for a large demographic of golfers. Rather than creating another set of tee boxes or cluttering the existing tee boxes with more tee markers, the staff came up with a simple and effective solution, a Blue/White combo tee option. On the scorecard for 2016 there will be circles around certain holes on the Blue and White yardages as shown below. These circled yardages add up to 5,790 yards creating an alternate course that fits between the Blue and White tee options and gives golfers yet another option when choosing the proper tees to play from. Combine this with the high quality conditions that Shilo continues to offer year in and year out, the course is set up beautifully for an enjoyable and rewarding round of golf. 

How do you determine which tees are right for you? There are a couple general ways to determine roughly what yardage of golf course will allow you to score well as well as challenge yourself, all while having fun doing so. The first is by taking the distance you hit your 5 iron (be honest with this number!!) and multiplying it by 36. For example, if you hit your 5 Iron 175 yards, a 6,300 yard golf course should be manageable for you. The other way of generally determining the proper course yardage is simply by using the distance you hit your driver and comparing it to the chart below:

Avg. drive Recommended Tees
300 yards 7,150-7,400 yards
275 yards 6,700-6,900 yards
250 yards 6,200-6,400 yards
225 yards 5,800-6,000 yards
200 yards 5,200-5,400 yards
175 yards 4,400-4,600 yards
150 yards 3,500-3,700 yards


For these formulas to be accurate, so to must your assessment of how far you hit your clubs. Pride often clouds the judgement of how far we hit the ball and what tees we should be playing from. Don't let it! Personally, I would rather swallow my pride and play from the forward tees and enjoy my four hours on the course than continue to write 8, 9, or even a dreaded 10 on my scorecard!

So if you are looking to get more enjoyment out of your time on the golf course this season, consider the points made above in regards to where you start each hole. Consider teeing off from the Blue tees instead of the Black or try a combination of tees such as the Blue/White tee combo at Shilo Country Club. The key to lower scores and a more enjoyable experience may be as simple as swallowing your pride and teeing it up from the tees 20 yards in front of your playing partners. They may throw a few comments your way for doing so but I assure you they will quiet down when you lighten their wallet! And of course if you are still finding the game difficult, see your local CPGA Professional for a quick lesson!!


1 comment

  • DIck Scott

    Good article Patrick. As we get older it doesn’t matter how much pride we swallow we are still hitting shorter than we did 30 years ago. I really like the new blue/white idea and will certainly give it a try. Thanks for the posts and I know lots of the members are open to new ideas.

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