All courses have a set of forward tees, although they may differ in name, marker color, size and yardage. The variability in forward tees can be significant between different courses and so can their level of use. As discussed in the USGA article “Rethinking Forward Tees,” decision-makers at many courses are focusing on forward tees and how to promote their use because they can improve pace of play and create more enjoyable rounds for golfers with slower swing speeds when they are properly located. So, what exactly does “properly located” mean?
Forward tees should be placed so golfers with slower swing speeds have the opportunity to reach greens in regulation and can hit a variety of clubs on their approach shots. After all, what good is a forward tee if the players using it still can’t reach greens in regulation? Shouldn’t a beginner or long-time player whose swing speed has declined be able to reach greens in regulation just like players with faster swing speeds?
To help simplify the process of calculating an appropriate yardage for the forward tees at your course, the USGA Green Section developed a forward tee calculator to quickly identify holes where additional forward tees may be necessary for golfers with slower swing speeds. The calculator uses data compiled from the PGA of America and the USGA Test Center to compare the average hitting distance of various types of golfers to the yardage of holes on your golf course. Based on the swing speed of golfers playing from each tee, the calculator will identify whether or not golfers can reach the green in regulation and what approach club they will likely hit. This information can then be used to identify problem areas and develop solutions.