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I play the blue tees at my course and it's on the short side at 6300 yards. I hit one driver on trackman Saturday and it carried 244 yards. Except on Par 5s, I typically don't hit anything longer than a 7 iron on my 2nd shot and oftentimes it's nothing longer than an 8-iron. I'm getting better but still not scoring like I want-- mainly low 80s and sometimes in the 70s. Last weekend I shot a 79 but had to shoot even on the back after a rough front 9.  I want to shoot in the 70s more consistently. 

 

I read the "Breaking 70" thread and some people suggested playing the whites to get used to shooting low scores. So I was considering playing from the white tees (5,650 yards) but my buddy, who is scratch, has been giving me a hard time about playing the blues and saying I need to move back to the gold tees (~6,900 yards). I was thinking about it and it would definitely put more pressure on my short game, which does need improvement. I remember reading about Jack Nicklaus who said he grew up playing the back tees which forced him to learn the short game.

 

Anyway, curious if anyone has thoughts or experience with either strategy. 

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Play a round from the forward most tees & see what you shoot   Play a round from the tips & see what you shoot   Keep track of these stats   Ball in Play off the

If you need to test your game and improve your shotmaking and short game, move back   if you are a mental midget who has a habit of blowing up good rounds when you’re going low, move up

Play both. In addition to the occasional irons-only round from the reds, the not so fun irons-only round from the tips (long iron ball striking practice, also positioning, unusual places, etc.) 

I'd say a good mix of both. The shorter tees will have you work on seeing which clubs you can really go after pins with, and learning the feeling of going low, also may help with those dreaded half wedge shots. The back tees will help with the short game as mentioned as well as longer clubs into the green and how they react so you can plan better in rounds, also will probably show any course management issues you may have where you can't get away with it like from shorter tees.

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This is just my own experience. Whenever I play really bad, I play this course near our house that is around 5800 yards or shorter. It gives me confidence and somewhat gets me back on track. I would usually shoot mid to high 70's when I play there. Then I would play the usual course I play, around 6000 to 6500 yards and shoot mid to low 80's, when lucky, break 80. 

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There is no right answer to this, only suggestions.  I'm long enough to play the tips, but I rarely do these days because I would rather go out and enjoy what little time I have out on the course then struggle and get stressed out playing from the tips because of ego.  I would say that play both tees and see what you enjoy.  I find enjoying rounds of golf leads to better scores in the long run. 

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Move back...

 

If you want to practice, you are surely going to hit more shots playing from the tips, and will also get to swing most of the clubs in your bag.  Going to the blacks is a great test of your all around game. You have more course management decisions to make. There is more stress to get in play off the tee. You will be seeing alot of longer irons into greens. And expect alot more short game work with critical up and downs needed to score well. 

 

Unless...

 

I will occasionally play the white tees, or find a par 70 course, if I am focusing on score. If you have goals to break 80 or 75, seeing it done is a big confidence boost. Or sometimes, you have certain shots you want to work on. When I was testing hybrids to replace a driving iron, I played some shorter courses to get more tee shots with hybrids on par 4s. Sometimes good for testing changes with the driver, where you can let it rip on most holes, maybe drive a green or two, and deal with whatever trouble you find from errant shots with a wedge in hand. In short, good for a round or two, but wouldn't make a habit out of it. 

 

 

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I would try both. The one issue with playing the back tees can be forced carry distances off the tee. If you have to carry one 235 from the back tee and your best shot is 244, that may not happen often. As others have said, sometimes it puts more strain on both the long game and short game, but can also be mentally draining if you have a 450 to 470 yard par 4, where it would take 2 perfectly struck shots to get near the green, and you arent doing it.

 

I would try both and mix the tees you play up and try to learn different things from each experiment. 

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Play a round from each and see how it works out. I'm generally long enough to play any back tee's(Black 7700+) but a rarely do unless it's in a comp. I play up one mostly (purple 7,000+ and orange 6500) just to see different parts of the course. It'll at least prove to you which parts of your game you need to work on most. 

Best of luck!

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Playing the back tees will stress your long game. Yes it will stress your short game more as you'll be missing greens so you need it to score. To score well, your long game needs to be pretty good. Its the opposite from the front tees.

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5 hours ago, NotThatGuyorAmI? said:

Play the back tees because the people behind want to spend more time on the course, and of course the right way to learn to walk is to run.

Tell me about it.  There was a 5 some in front of us about a month ago playing from the tips.  4 guys and a gal.  The 4 guys were total hackers who could maybe hit 230 off the tee max.  The gal was better than all of them and would out drive the guys most of the time.  Anyways, the round took 5.5 hours to finish. 

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Have you charted your rounds and figured out exactly where you are losing strokes? Going from the low 80's to the mid 70's on a consistent basis means understanding your game in detail, and spending your practice time on those weaknesses.

 

To consistently score at that level, your short game needs to consistently get you up and down from easy misses. Your leg putting needs to be consistent. You have to make short putts. And you have to keep 6's off the card (and move towards keeping 5's off the card).

 

Answering those questions honestly about your game comes way before which tees to play ...

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Play a round from the forward most tees & see what you shoot

 

Play a round from the tips & see what you shoot

 

Keep track of these stats

 

Ball in Play off the tee (Par 4s & 5s only) - If you have to drop, punch out, or layup then your ball is not in play

 

# of Shots it takes to get within 50 yards of the green (not including your tee shot) - this will show you if you're missing iron shots in the right place

 

# of Shots it takes to get in the hole within 50 yards

 

# of putts missed inside 5 feet

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3 hours ago, goaliedad30 said:

Have you charted your rounds and figured out exactly where you are losing strokes? Going from the low 80's to the mid 70's on a consistent basis means understanding your game in detail, and spending your practice time on those weaknesses.

 

I keep stats in Grint and keep an excel spreadsheet on my scores. I know which holes I'm losing the most strokes on. So I generally know my stats and think I know what is causing those problems. But I guess I'm not charting my rounds. What do you mean by that or how do you do it?

 

 

 

Edited by acekun
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Santiago has a good set of ideas above. To get to where you want to be, you need to know things like:

 

  • In play off the tee with a reasonable shot at the green (fairway or easy rough)
  • Greens in regulation (you're shooting for 50%+)
  • Up & down when missing greens (again, 50% plus)
  • Penalty strokes (needs to be pretty close to zero)
  • Putts (total < 30, very few misses inside 4 feet, no 3 putts)

A player who consistently shoots in the mid 70s is always in play off the tee, usually on or around the green in regulation, when on in regulation gets down in 2 putts or less, and when missing the green averages about 2.5 strokes to hole out.

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Appreciate everyone's responses. My buddy who is scratch actually called to play a quick 9 with his high school son (shoots 70s). They play back tees together so that’s what I played.

 

Btw, for the comment about backing up the course, we played in 90 minutes and waited on the twosome in front of us every hole. Not sure why you think longer tees automatically means slow play but I guess I don't know how you play.  

 

I shot 42 playing the back 9 (which I called front 9 in my OP because rounds start on #10) -- disappointed but that’s been my average from the blues (41.7). I average 2 strokes better on the front. 

 

5 pars, 2 bogies and 2 double bogies. 3 GIRs, 16 putts. Major mistakes were 2 penalties off the tee (doubles) and missed an easy 4-footer to save par. Penalties have been a problem (ball going left lately) while missing a short putt is unusual since I got my new putter recently. Score was disappointing because I parred a par 3 that is usually responsible for wrecking my card but then doubled #18 where tees weren’t that far back. Drew it into water on dog leg left with wind pushing that way. A 40 would have felt much better. But also, I do things like that because I suck, so can't get mad, just need to get better.

 

It was only 9 holes but I did have some takeaways:

  • I'm going to make this a regular habit, whenever I'm by myself or with my buddy (he'll be happy he won’t have to play blues). Will play blues with my other buddies.
  • Even if it doesn't help me improve, it was refreshing to play a "different" course. 
  • Cumulatively, more challenging but there were only 2 holes where the additional length affected my score expectations on a hole. One was a 475 yard par 4 and the other was dog leg, where the water carry was 235 to cut the corner so I had to play it the long way. 
  • What felt most different was stress on my long game and course management. I'm missing that aspect from the blues and think this will make me become a more well-rounded golfer. 
  • I don't get to play that often so probably won't use rounds to play whites right now. Maybe if I need to work on my mental game as I get closer to milestones like some have suggested. I'm not close to shooting par and that is probably the only milestone that would make me nervous 
  • I’m hoping this will make the blues play easier. Like basketball when you practice shooting from deep and then move up to the 3-point line

 

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16 minutes ago, Krt22 said:

Playing different tees may help you identify your weaknesses, but if you ultimately want to make a sizable jump in scores and consistently shoot in the 70s, you might need to take a deeper look at your swing and address what is causing your current inconsistency. 

Definitely. My swing is the biggest problem and working on it every day. I hadn't played golf in a decade and picked it back up in January. I decided I was going to re-build my swing from scratch so I still am working on it. I didn't care about my score really until the last couple of months where I felt my swing was decent enough to actually focus on score and try playing golf. It's still a work in progress. 

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@Santiago Golf

@goaliedad30

 

Thanks, that's a good list. I need to track the 50 yards and in stats. I'm tracking all of the stats that goaliedad mentioned except I need to change how I'm tracking my tee shots. I've just been tracking fairways hit but it's largely useless stat. I'll start doing it the way that you guys recommend. 

 

Basically, I need to improve at everything. 

  • GIRs 41%. Ball striking needs to get better. 
  • Scrambling is also 41% -- think this is function of ball striking (too far from hole) and putting
  • Penalty strokes -- this has been a killer. Averaging 2 a round. There is one par 3 that gives me problems -- 195 yards with woods on left and water on right -- both sides slope toward trouble. Can't even layup -- too skinny leading to green. I'm averaging 4.5 on this hole due to penalties. Of course, I parred it from the back tees at 215 yards. 
  • Putts -- 33 avg. Last couple rounds been better (31) since getting new putter (aim is better). No 3-putts and inside 10 feet has been better, although did miss that 4-footer. 

My biggest issue, like Krt22 mentioned, is my swing. Been working on Monte's NTC and will probably do his game improvement plan. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've played the back tees a few more times and I do feel like it's helping me become a more well-rounded golfer. Couple weeks ago from back tees, I started 2 over after 3 holes and then played the next 9 holes 1 under. Only got 12 holes in but finished +1.

 

This week I shot an 83 (including quintuple bogey (yes, +5) and double bogey on 17 and 18) and an 81 from back tees. Even though they were blah rounds, they actually dropped my handicap by almost a stroke. Benefits from playing the tips!

 

I was 9.6 when I started this thread a month ago and now am at 7.4 handicap. Even though I've improved, I don't feel like I'm playing well. Still too many dumb mistakes that good players don't make. Nonetheless, I'm seeing progress (7 of last 11 rounds have counted toward handicap) and think back tees are part of the reason why. In August, I had set a goal to reach 5 handicap in next 12 months and feeling confident that will happen (hoping sooner). 

 

 

Edited by acekun
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I'll give a completely different answer: If it's a good golf course and you play it regularly, play the tees that let you (or make you!) play the course the way the architect intended.  That's going to give you the widest range of shots and situations and decision-making, and you'll be practicing not only your golf swing, but your course management.

 

One way to figure that out is to think about the holes on the course that have a clear risk-reward option; a par five with a hazard in front of the green, a dogleg par four with a difficult bunker guarding the inside of the dogleg, a driveable par 4 with lots of trouble if you miss, and so on.  If you are playing tees that take those options out of play, either because you are so far back that you can't reach the trouble or have decisions to make, then you are too far back.  If you can blow the ball over the fairway bunkers, or you are able to easily hit the greens in two on ANY of the par 5's, then you're too close.

 

There is a VERY good reason, btw, to play up every now and then, and that's to try to get used to going low, to getting out of your comfort zone.  Same with playing back; it can allow you to have to play a lot of shots around the green because you aren't going to hit many greens.  But day in and day out, the "correct" set of tees is the best set of tees.

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You need to make 3 or more birdies to break par, and even more to break 70. Which means that you need to be aggressive on those holes where you can enforce a birdie opportunity. Get it as close as possible in 2 on those par 5s unless it's a green that requies serious stopping power to get near the flag.

 

What I have learned from playing with plus handicappers is to try to make more birdies and dont step off the gas until youre in the club house.

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18 minutes ago, Lefthook said:

You need to make 3 or more birdies to break par, and even more to break 70. Which means that you need to be aggressive on those holes where you can enforce a birdie opportunity. Get it as close as possible in 2 on those par 5s unless it's a green that requies serious stopping power to get near the flag.

 

What I have learned from playing with plus handicappers is to try to make more birdies and dont step off the gas until youre in the club house.

Think this is meant for a different thread but I like that advice!

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Not really. Playing forward can help you to break mental barrieres and challenge your short game, but only if you play aggressively.  Playing back will improve your ball striking, but give you fewer birdie opportunities. If you play forward and just use the advantage to safe it from tee to green you may even regress. If you tee it up back you will get fewer birdie opportunities. In any case you need to chase birdies to get there. And shifting tees should get you in a mood for chasing birdie opportunities whether you play shorter or longer ... if you aspire to break par or 70. IMO 

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5 minutes ago, Lefthook said:

Not really. Playing forward can help you to break mental barrieres and challenge your short game, but only if you play aggressively.  Playing back will improve your ball striking, but give you fewer birdie opportunities. If you play forward and just use the advantage to safe it from tee to green you may even regress. If you tee it up back you will get fewer birdie opportunities. In any case you need to chase birdies to get there. And shifting tees should get you in a mood for chasing birdie opportunities whether you play shorter or longer ... if you aspire to break par or 70. IMO 

Gotcha. I do aspire to break par some day but I'm not anywhere close to that now. 

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16 hours ago, bluedot said:

I'll give a completely different answer: If it's a good golf course and you play it regularly, play the tees that let you (or make you!) play the course the way the architect intended.  That's going to give you the widest range of shots and situations and decision-making, and you'll be practicing not only your golf swing, but your course management.

 

One way to figure that out is to think about the holes on the course that have a clear risk-reward option; a par five with a hazard in front of the green, a dogleg par four with a difficult bunker guarding the inside of the dogleg, a driveable par 4 with lots of trouble if you miss, and so on.  If you are playing tees that take those options out of play, either because you are so far back that you can't reach the trouble or have decisions to make, then you are too far back.  If you can blow the ball over the fairway bunkers, or you are able to easily hit the greens in two on ANY of the par 5's, then you're too close.

 

There is a VERY good reason, btw, to play up every now and then, and that's to try to get used to going low, to getting out of your comfort zone.  Same with playing back; it can allow you to have to play a lot of shots around the green because you aren't going to hit many greens.  But day in and day out, the "correct" set of tees is the best set of tees.

But what if the architect was a mad drunk?

 

It's all about playing the percentages no matter what tees you play. And sometimes there's just no good options other than to hit a good shot and hope for the best.

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Normally play our middle tees at 6500+ but will occasionally play the back tees at 7000 with my son. Here's something we've both observed about my driving when playing the back tees. Overall, I will hit my drives farther. Instead of my usual 230 to 240, I will hit my driver more like 240 to 250. And occasionally there will be at least 2-3 holes where I hit my drives as far, or even farther, from the back tees than I do from the middle tees. 

 

Another thing that I do from time to time, when playing 9 holes by myself, is hit 2 balls and play the worst shot. Now, that will really make you focus and will definitely test you. 

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