I do not like the TEE IT FORWARD Campaign and I will tell you why. First though, a bit about what Tee It Forward is about. From PGA.com:
“TEE IT FORWARD encourages all golfers to play the course at a length that is aligned with their average driving distance. Golfers can speed up play by utilizing tees that provide the greatest playability and enjoyment. ‘Simply put, TEE IT FORWARD can make golf much more fun for millions of people”, said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. “We believe that by moving up to another set of tees, golfers will experience an exciting, new approach to the game that will produce more enjoyment and elevate their desire to come back and play even more golf.'”
Before I tear into that quote let me help you understand where my mind is on this. When I began playing there were four tee boxes; Pro’s, Men’s, Ladies, and Senior’s. Now that we have become a gender-neutral society, the middle two tee descriptions have become confused. Laws such as the one in Washington state, “Washington State Gender-Neutral Vocabulary Law“, make it so make it so we cannot refer to a fisherman as a “fisherman”, only “fisher”, etc. Thus, gone are the Men’s and Ladies tees, replaced by various colors, depending on the course you are playing.
While I believe in equality, I also believe that not every kid should get a “trophy”. To me, these four tee designations made sense. If you are not a Professional or single-digit handicap, do not play from the Pro tee box. If you are a male, play from the Men’s tee box. If for some reason you cannot advance the ball far enough to where playing from a tee box 50 yards ahead turns you into “scratch”, you have issues beyond my expertise.
There is an advertisement where Jack Nicklaus is declaring his allegiance to this campaign. He declares that he “tees it forward”. Well, yes, as well he should, he is a senior and should play from those tees. Or, the tees that used to be designated as such anyway.
My thinking is a 35 year old male has no business playing from anywhere but the Men’s or Pro tees. If said 35 year old male needs to use the Senior tee box, I feel he has no business being on a full length course. There are par 3 executive courses specifically made for that type of player.
Getting back to the quote I pulled from the PGA’s website, I will tell you why I do not agree that this will provide greater playability or enjoyment. I traveled to Florida a few years ago and the starter asked me what my average score was and if I had a handicap. After trying to crack a joke asking, “Isn’t that obvious?” (recall I have Cerebral Palsy), which found no audience, I told him my stats. I was then subject to one of the most isolating rounds of golf I’ve ever had. He forced me to play ahead on different tees than my 3 playing partners. This led to the same scenario on every hole. I was not really able to join my 3 friends on the tee box, given the time constraints of walking to a tee box I was not allowed to tee off from. Then, assuming my playing partners remembered I still had to tee off and did not drive past my tee, they were forced to wait while I made my way to the tee and took my first shot. While they teed off, I stayed in the cart and when I teed off, they all remained in their carts. As I said, very isolating.
Later in that article I took the quote from it is suggested that this will lead to lower scores. Again, with the implication that this will yield more enjoyment. While I hope “Tee’ing It Forward” would lead me to a lower score, there would always be an asterisk attached to that score. Or, a “but”, if you will. “I broke 90!… but… I broke 80!… but…”, you get the idea.
For my part, I’d feel like a cheat, or at the very least, less of a golfer. If you want to substitute “golfer” in that sentence with “man”, feel free. As I have written before, golf is hard. It is a discipline. I like to compare it to life. Circumventing hard work and practice will lead to mediocrity. Not everyone deserves a trophy.