Golf Tip: Scoring tees encourage ALL golfers

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Golf Tip: Pick the teeing ground that best suits your skill level

Golf tips typically focus on the swing, the putting stroke, equipment, balls, and so forth, but this one zeroes in on the golf course and, specifically, the teeing ground.

Golf can be a challenge, and that’s exactly why the avid golfer loves it. The avid golfer doesn’t have to be the best golfer, just one who loves the test, whether on a new course or a familiar track. For some, it can be fun and social. For others, it can be highly competitive.  But no matter what your age or strength level, face it, golf’s not easy. It’s a lot harder than kicking a soccer ball.

When it comes to enjoyment at all ages, all you have to do is look at the recent Drive Chip & Putt competition where youngsters starting at age seven took their skills to a competition at Augusta National GC the Sunday before The Masters.  The older kids were hitting drives 275 yards, which is much longer than the average golfer. The younger kids were hitting maybe 100 yards, maybe 125, which is long for their size.

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So, this is a golf tip that just makes sense: you can certainly enjoy the game whether you are seven or 70. But your ability to hit the ball a certain distance is going to be determined by strength and flexibility and a lot of practice. Not everybody is as strong as Jason Day or Rickie Fowler. Not everybody is going to be able to hit a drive 350 yards. But even if you can’t hit with Jason or Rickie, it doesn’t mean you can’t play golf or that you can’t enjoy golf.  You just need the right tees.

The Right Tees

There are three ideas that have been circulating recently which will allow golf courses designed for guys like Jason and Rickie to be more user-friendly for you. (Or me.)

One idea is called Scoring Tees.  The second idea has no actual name, but the basic concept driving the idea involves adding the Fun Factor to golf at any level.  And the third is Longleaf Tees. All three of these concepts base YOUR tees on YOUR swing speed and the distance YOU can hit a ball instead of making you play from the same spot as Jason and Rickie.

Think about it.  How nuts is it for you to expect yourself to hit a 300-yard drive? Totally nuts. What you need is a course suited to your driving distance.  You need Scoring Tees, Fun Factor tees or Longleaf Tees. So if you’re looking for a golf tip that will lower your score, let’s think in terms of selecting the best teeing ground for your particular skill level.

The Invention of Scoring Tees

Jan Beljan is one of the few female members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), and she heads up Jan Bel Jan Golf Course Design. She’s now Secretary of the ASGCA. Before starting her own firm, she worked under Tom Fazio.

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Recently, she’s done work for several courses creating what she calls Scoring Tees.

“I wondered why we couldn’t do something more for players with slower clubhead speeds,” Beljan said about her Scoring Tees concept. “Everybody wants to score better.  That’s how I came up with the name Scoring Tees.”

Scoring Tees are based on how far a golfer hits his or her drive.

She debuted the idea for Green Valley Country Club in Greenville, SC, in 2011, which means she thought of it before that.  It always takes a while to find someone with enough courage to try something new.

A few years later, in 2014-15, she was asked to create Scoring Tees for two Florida courses, Pelican Marsh in Naples and Pelican Nest in Bonita Springs. There are six tees on each hole. In addition, there are the Scoring Tees. So that’s seven tees.

The idea in all instances is to have a course within a course.  For ease of maintenance, the Scoring Tees are the size of a triplex mower turning radius, 25-by-25 feet.

The total yardage for the Scoring Tees at Pelican’s Nest is 4062 yards. They call it the Hurricane Scoring Course, and it has its own scorecard.  The longest set of tees from the back of that same course is 6808.

Similarly at Pelican Marsh, the total yardage of their Scoring Tees is 4020 while the full regulation course from the back is 7050.  Having a special Scoring Tees scorecard is part of the validation that this is golf, even if it’s not played from 7000+ yards.

The scorecard says Scoring Tees are what should be used by those whose drives go 150 yards or less.  But they can be played by golfers who can hit the ball farther.

“We locate scoring tees forward of existing tees and in such a way that penal hazards are either eliminated or can be managed more easily,” Beljan explained in an article for By Design, published by the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 2016.

Beljan thinks that having tees that are gender neutral and based on swing speed alone will allow more people to get into the game and stay with it longer. She believes that Scoring Tees will keep members active at clubs when they age up. It also provides an excellent avenue for beginners, whatever their age.

Here’s what the Scoring Tees scorecard at Pelican’s Nest says:

“If your drive travels 150 yards or less, this is the regulation course that fits your game….

“While embracing the history of the game predicated on score, the Scoring Course redefines the concept of fun. Golf is a game based on ‘Fairway, Green, Two-Putt,’ and the Scoring Course at Pelican’s Nest strives to deliver that experience to every level of golfer. We don’t just believe in Teeing It Forward, we believe in Teeing It Up and Having Fun.”

Next: U.S. Open: Top 10 sleepers at Erin Hills

Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at Fun Factor Tees and Longleaf Tees. Picking the right starting point for your skill level is the best way to maximize your enjoyment of the game.