Politically Correct, Logically Absurd: Forward Tees and other Golf Nonsense


How often would you go skiing if the only slope available were a black-diamond run? You are not likely to jump onto a lift too often, especially if you are a beginner or an average skier.

That is what's happening in the sport of golf. There is so much emphasis, within the industry, to get the average players to golf more often, yet there is nothing being done to accommodate the very players it wants to acquire. Golf courses are being targeted to the limited number of better players. They are getting longer, tougher, and frankly, it's just getting out of reach for the likely consumers to consume.

The industry experts tell us to use the forward tees or the correct tee boxes for your skill level and you will have more fun. Let’s think about this: How absurd of a notion is it if you are told to ski only the bottom half of the double-black-diamond run because you are a beginner? You may not have to endure the agony of the whole thing but you still wouldn’t call it a fun. And even if you manage to survive the feat, you are not likely to come back for more.
Likewise, using the forward tees does not necessarily make the game any easier nor does it translate into more appeal for the sport. However, such fallacy has been accepted and adapted in golf.
Question now is: If simpler courses are likely to entice the larger portion of the golfers to play more often, why are courses spending millions of dollars bring in high-profile designers and keep insisting on building the toughest and the longest courses with more hazards, tougher bunkers, faster greens and simply making the game more difficult than it already is?*
*There are several reasons beyond the scope of this writing such as the industry's ties to the real estate developments, equipment advances and the "Augusta Syndrome" which refers to the industry's unrealistic expectation for high standards. I'll discuss them in detail on the later writing that will focus on sustainability.

Golf outing doesn't have to be an event of a lifetime. You shouldn't have to prep yourself as if you are about to bungee. It's a recreational activity. Fun and easy-going should be synonymous with the game of golf, not frustration and painstaking.
Industry needs to stop insisting that courses need to "protect par" at the expense of player’s satisfaction.  Let golfers score well for change. How about wider and firmer fairways? How about fewer hazards? Maybe softer and flatter greens? How about letting the golfers play with the most technologically advanced golf clubs or golf balls that free market has to offer? Why does my grandma have to suffer from equipment restrictions that are intended to put performance barriers for the tour players?
If there were easier ways to ski down the mountain then you would let people take advantage and let them have fun with it. If there are ways to get more people playing this wonderful game of golf, then why not try it? Yes, the tournament players need to conform to set of rules for the sake of fairness. But how fair is it if the rest of the golfing population has to suffer because of the selective few.
Using advanced equipments shouldn’t be an issue for amateur players, as after the 10th round with the new equipment the player’s handicap should be adjusted to the new level of play.
It took a feminist movement to rename the ladies tees to more politically correct forward tees. I wonder what and how long it will take for the industry to understand that forward tee isn’t the answer for making the game more accessible to everyone.

Maybe the biggest paradox in golf lies with the unrealistic expectation of what golf is within the industry itself.

Come on, “industry” experts. Stop the non-sense and let us splurge a little.


By Lee J.H. Lee,
PGA of Canada Class A
Emirates PGA
Titleist Performance Institute Level 2
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Lee J.H. Lee is the Executive Director of the Links Times and the creator of Hush Golf. He coaches golfers of all skill levels from the Track Meydan Academy by Troon in Dubai, UAE and at the Cedar Hill Golf Course in Victoria, BC, Canada. Follow Lee on Twitter @leejhl@UAEgolf and @linkstimes. Also on Facebook at “Dubai Golf Chat with Lee

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