By Chris Mile
I have wanted to tackle this question for sometime because it is a real big deal, and I have seen some half baked answers to this question. In my book, every golfer should have the opportunity to hit par threes in one shot, par fours in two, and par fives in three. If this is not possible, you are playing a course that is too long, and if you play a course that is too long or too short, you will not get the joy you should from the game.
Computing Your Ideal Course Distance. The answer to the question of how long a course should be for you is real simple. It is 28. Just multiply the length of a well hit drive for you by 28 and that, in my estimation, is the length of a course that will be challenging but enjoyable to play.
The logic behind the “Driver x 28” is that an ideal course will have a combination of easy, moderately difficult, and difficult holes. Knowing the length of your drive, you can estimate how far you hit your other clubs. For example, most golfers will hit their 6 iron 64% of the distance of their driver. If a medium distance par 4 is a drive and #6 iron, you know the length of a good par four for you is 164% of the distance of your drive. Having this information plus definitions for short, medium, and long holes, you can compute the total distance for an ideal course for you based upon your driving distance.
Now the only thing you need to know is the distance of your well hit tee shots. This is a more difficult question than you might think, and as a clue, most of us overestimate. To get a real accurate estimate, you can have the TrackMan radar units at our range measure your drives. They are accurate to within 1 foot for every 100 yards.
How “Driver x 28” Was Created. We need to know only two things to create an ideal course length. (1) We need to know how far you hit each club in your bag and (2) we need to define what clubs you hit into each hole on the mythical ideal course. Both of these are a lot easier than you would expect!
#1. Determine How Far You Hit All Your Clubs. By knowing how far you hit your driver, we have good data to predict how far you will hit all the clubs in your bag. Obviously this will not be exact for each golfer, but it will be close. The hardest part of this is to have a good estimate of your total driver distance for a well struck driver.
The chart below tells how far a typical player hits each club relative to their driving distance. This information is from a TrackMan analysis of the PGA and LPGA tours. You can see the distance for each club as a percent of the driver distance below:
Club Distance as a Percent of Driver Distance.
|PGA Tour||pct of||LPGA Tour||pct of||Tour Averages|
#2. Designing an Enjoyable Golf Course. My definition of a course that is fun to play will have a combination of short, medium, and long holes. For example, since the average course has 4 par three holes, one should be easy, 2 moderately difficult, and one hard. There are generally 4 par fives so the same logic applies to par 5s. There are usually 10 par fours so I am saying there are 3 easy, 4 average, and 3 hard par fours. This course should make you hit a lot of different clubs which is usually a definition of a good golf course.
#3. Compute the Distance of the Ideal Course. I am arbitrarily defining short, medium and long holes. For example, my definition of a medium length par five is a driver, #3 fairway, and pitching wedge. I am saying a medium length par 4 is a driver and 6 iron. We need to do this for each hole; namely decide what approach shots we want to hit into each category of hole. So to compute the distance of a medium length par five relative to your driver distance the math looks like this:
Medium Length Par Five
#3 Fairway .88
Pitching Wedge .45
If your average drive is 200, a moderate par five distance is 466 yards. (2.33 x 200 yards). Carry this same logic for each hole and you come up with a distance of (driver distance x 28) for an ideal course length.
Driver x 28 Computation
|Par||Difficulty||Club Selection||% of Driver||# per Round||Total % of Driver|
|4||short||driver + 9 iron||1.5||3||4.5|
|4||medium||driver + 6 iron||1.64||4||6.56|
|4||long||driver + 3 iron||1.74||3||5.22|
|5||short||driver + 3 fairway||1.88||1||1.88|
|5||medium||driver + 3 fairway + PW||2.37||2||4.74|
|5||long||driver + 3 fairway + 6ir||2.52||1||2.52|
Questions regarding “Driver x 28”:
- What if there is not a set of tees that correspond with my ideal yardage? First of all, don’t expect that you will be able to match the yardage number exactly. If you are close, within 5%, that should work out fine. Also, there is nothing wrong with making up your own course. Your course me be comprised of holes using different tees. Your objective should be to play holes that always give you the possibility of hitting each green in regulation (1 for par threes, 2 for par fours, and 3 for par fives). The only downside to making up your own course is that you will not have a course rating for handicapping.
- What if everyone else in my group is playing from different tees than me? Hold your ground. Everyone will have more fun if you play the proper tees. Nobody likes to play with a frustrated playing partner. If you are wagering, the handicap system accommodates players using different tees, so if you are playing a shorter course, you will receive fewer shots.
- Shouldn’t the length of the course be adjusted by your handicap? NO. There are loads of examples of high handicap golfers who can hit it a ton. Are they going to like playing a real short course? The same for a low handicap golfer who is a short hitter. Will he or she enjoy hitting fairway woods into most par fours?
- I don’t agree with your definition of an ideal course. You could disagree with this definition and create your own ideal course or adjust for a course that is not a par 72 course. You will have to rework the numbers, but you have all the information you need to make this adjustment.
- How well will the “driver x 28” system work for the real long hitter? At the extremes, the formula does not work primarily because there are no courses built for the extremes. For a 300 yard hitter, you need a course of 8,400 yds. You could make a good argument that golf for a 300 yard hitter is not as much fun as for the rest of us because all they are hitting is driver and short irons. It is not quite as bad as this because a 300 yard hitter will not hit his driver very often because it will go through a dog leg or simply just run out of space in the fairway to hit a driver.
- How well will the “driver x 28” system work for the real short hitter? For really short hitters, there is a tendency for all the clubs to go the same distance. This probably means that the ideal course will have holes of approximately the same distance for all the par 3s, approximately the same for all the par 4s, and all the par 5s. For a 100yd hitter, the par 3s would be approximately 100 yds; par 4s, 200 yds; and par 5s, 300 yds.
To apply a single rule of thumb based solely on driver distance is a poor method for too many, IMO.
I use Shotscope to back up what I’m seeing on the course regarding distances (among other things). I subtract a little off of their “performance” average to arrive at a more typical distance. Even with that shortened result, the driver x 28 puts me at a distance that is too long. I can guarantee nobody wants to be my playing partner or be in the group behind me if I’m playing at the 6400-yard result that formula comes up with.
My opinion is to use this only as a guide. Know your game, know your distances and play whatever set of tees you enjoy without holding up others. Golf is many different things to many different people.
I’m a 67 year old golfer of over 40 years. Over that time I’ve lost valuable yardish and believe in the tee it foward idea. What’s lost in this discussion is that even if you play from the “forward tees” you still have to make the shots. You will still have to drive the ball, hit long irons/short irons and chips. Someone earlier said it was an ego thing….I agree and will play the forward tees and enjoy the gane that much more.
28 X driver distance? I think not. So the pros that drive the ball 320 and more should play 9000 yard courses????????? Not going to happen. The Pros outdrove us by 80 yards. 80 X 14 driver holes is 1120 yards. They outhit our irons by at least 30 yards a club. 18 X 30 is 540. Basically we should play 1700 yards shorter than the Pros. When they play 7400 we should play 5700. Then we woukd hitcthe samecirons in to the gren.
Agreed that the formula breaks down at extremely long hitters and short hitters. This is addressed in the full article. I am not a real fan of your suggestion that we should play courses that are 1,700 yards shorter than the courses the pros play. That would mean a 200 yard driver might be playing the same tees as a 250 yard driver. For most of us, multiplying your driver distance by 28 produces a fun course to play.
I think your formula has some merit for scratch golfers, but as the handicap goes up, it starts to fall apart. Using average driving distance rather than “well-struck” driving distance would help, I think. Using your formula as stated above I should be playing about 7000 yards, but at my home course that would have me hitting hybrid into all or all but one of the par 3s, depending on tee placement, as well as not being able to reach one of the par 4s regularly due to forced carry on the approach. That’s no fun for a 12 handicap.
You make a good point that you do not want to use your “home run” driving distance as the basis for determining what length course you will enjoy. I am suggesting that you hit 10 drives and take the average of the best 5. If this still seems to make the course too long for you to hit greens in regulation, back off your estimate of a well struck drive. Remember, Driver x 28 is a starting point for you to determine the tees that are right for you.
Hi, thanks for the info, I struggle thinking white tees are to close and blue are getting to far. I think the formulation works at some drive distance points. If Pros average 296 x 28 is 8288.
Crazy as it seems, all the courses the pros play are pretty much driver and wedge, with no true par 5s. 8,200 yards would make them play the game as most of us do and use all the clubs in their bag.
7000 yards for a 250-yard player is going to make for a long round.Too many people play wrong too far back. With an average of 200 yards of the tee, people should play about 5600-5800 yards..
Yes, absolutely. There is another formula, 5 iron distance x 36. For meat 74 y.o. that comes out pretty close to your suggested 5,600 yards.
Hint: most golfers have no idea how far they actually and dependably hit their clubs.
Figuring-out which tee-box to play involves more than just how far you can hit the ball. That really is only at best 50% of the equation, the other factor is skill level. I’ve long-since lost count of how many young guys I’ve seen playing the back tees/blue tees, who may be long off the tee IF they catch one right, but their game is so unrefined that they are more often all over the course, and slowing down play by double or triple bogeying every hole, or looking for wayward shots, while shooting 100 on a good day and 125 on a bad one. If you can drive a ball about 275 yards and can at least occasionally break 80 from the white tees, then you are probably capable of playing the blues if you want.
I am a 71 year old golfer. About mid 90s a round. I hit my drives quite strait about 220 yards sometimes I really crush one 250. I have started to play the gold tees and it is much more enjoying I now score in the upper 80s and my game is much faster. This has less to do with distance and more to do with accuracy and ability. So play from what ever tees you enjoy. We are not playing for a living we are playing for enjoyment. By the way I started playing around 40 years old. So go have fun.
Step 1. Do you agree with Chris Mile’s definition of a “fun round of golf” where you have short, medium and long holes? If yes, proceed to question 2. If “no” then don’t use the formula.
Step 2. Do what he says and multiple driver x28.
Step 3. Pick the tees that are closest to that number.
Step 4. After the round is over, remember you played the tee that required the most variety of clubs possible.
And, remember this fact for all the babies on here saying its ridiculous to think a pro who hits it 300 yards should play a 8400 yard courses. Again, it’s simple math. Yes they should if they want to play a course as defined by Chris as “fun”. Balls and equipment has changed/ruined most courses for long hitters. Consider this, ” Chad Campbell averaged 291 yards off the tee in 2009, ranking 70th on the PGA Tour. At the Byron Nelson Classic that year, he hit Titleist Balata 100 balls on the driving range with a persimmon driver supplied by noted golf author Curt Sampson. The results were startling. His average drive with the Byron Nelson wooden driver went 247 yards. ” The host of the 2020 open winged foot club also hosted the open in 1959. The yardage that year in 1959 was 6873. Take that yardage of 247 x 28 and you get 6,916, just 43 yard difference from 247×28. The pga tour players use to played Chris “fun” course. They no longer do, its driver wedge, driver wedge. I guess that’s why brooks said “actually I find golf kind of boring”. I wonder if you would have said that with a Balata and persimmon driver, or playing his own driverx28 course ie: 8,700 yard courses.
You guys are making this way too complicated. If you can’t shoot par/72 from the tee boxes that you’re playing from, then you should move up until you find a Teebox that you can shoot par from. That might mean playing from the senior tees for some people.
An interesting concept that I’m trying to wrap me head around. There are recommendations I have seen where the suggested tee box to play is based upon your handicap. You are, I think, saying pretty much the same thing. I would worry that a long hitter who is not a great golfer would not have a lot of fun from short tees.
Wow! just saw this and you have a convert. Was playing with my friend (famous golf instructor to the tour) at his Florida club and he got me hitting it from the proper tees at 6100 yards. Had a ball and actually shot a 36 on one of the 9’s with 3 birdies. I am an 11.2. First time in years. This works for hard and so called easy course alike. Noticing that if I play TPC Sawgrass from a 6100 yard distance I still have all the tough parts of the course to navigate. So who wants to join me in a national crusade to make this happen? Since it is a faster round with less stress on the turf I think the shorter tees should be called less expensive rather than Sr or Ladies etc. This will motivate everyone. Make it $40 for front tees, $60-70 for next sets and $100 to play the back tees. By the way most tour players only carry their driver 280-290. Even DJ etc. are not really carrying it longer than that. And most regular players only carry it 200-220 if you only count half their drives in the fairway.
It’s nice to hear someone get excited about their golf game by playing the game the way it was meant to be played. Golf courses are designed to be played with certain clubs in mind for each hole. If the shot into the green is too short or too long, it is just not as much fun.
I wish more clubs and golfers recognized this. I’m 53, don’t carry a driver, and am not a particularly long hitter. My 3W off the tee is about 200 -210 on a well-struck shot. I joined a club where the “club tees” are 7066 yards. Yes, we’re at altitude (about 5500 feet), so that gives some benefit on the longer shots. But, there are “forward tees” at 6035 yards, a full thousand yards (or about 2-3 holes if one thinks of it in these terms) less The slope from the club tees is 140, 134 from the forward tees. I guess the argument is that with the slope factored in, it all washes clean when the course handicap, from a given set of tees, is calculated. That said, there are only 2 or 3 par 4s where I have a reasonable chance of reaching in regulation. From the forward tees, that goes up considerably. I’d gladly give up the four points on the slope to feel like I have a shot at reaching. But, to play with a Sunday group of somewhat better golfers, this just isn’t going to happen, and the club had deemed that the forward tees are only for the 55+ crowd. I need to book a one-ball on an afternoon and try playing from the forward tees to see how it changes the experience and perhaps take it up with the captain.
John, I think you are right on to bring this up for two reasons. If your game with your buddies is handicapped, the slope should make up for the difference for someone playing the forward tees. Lobby to just give it a try and see how it works. It also seems strange that everyone at your club under 55 needs to play a 7,000 course. It is clear to me that playing a course too long is not nearly as much fun as playing a course that is the right yardage. I firmly believe that how far you can hit it, no matter your age, needs to determine which tees you should play and that it is far more fun to play in a group where each player picks the right tees even if it means players are teeing off from different tee boxes.
In the months since I made the original post, there has a been a nice change of thinking. Golf directors and club captains in South Africa are still working their heads around the recent introduction of the handicap index / course conversion charts for each tee. The dust seems to have settled a bit, and several of us have started playing the men’s forward tees. Depending on your HI, the difference between the two tees for the course handicap is 2-5 strokes. I’m much happier. I typically find my tee shots near the longer hitters who played from the standard men’s tees, giving us all a more equal chance of getting on in regulation. Yes, there’s a bit of pride -swallowing to wait for others to tee off and then hit. It works better with two of us in the foursome, but the bottom line is that Sundays have become much more fun.
I have exactly the same feeling as you when I play the forward tees. I find it so much more fun playing with younger players who can drive it crazy distances beyond me. I think they enjoy it more too.
I only hit my driver 275. That means I should hit a 192 yard 6 iron? Haha I wish. And times 28 means I should play a 7700 yard course. Is there even such a thing?
CK, I think you made a mistake in calculating the distance you should hit a 6 iron. The data suggest you will hit a 6 iron 64% of the distance you hit your driver. For you it is suggesting you hit your #6 iron roughly 176 yards (275 x .64) not 192 yards.
You do raise an interesting question. What if the club data used to calculate the length of a course you might enjoy is not accurate for you? Let’s say for example that you normally hit your #6 iron 160 yards. You can reverse the calculation by simply dividing 160 by .64 which gives you a driving distance of 250 yards. 28 times 250 gives you a course of length of 7,000. This modification will tend to make the course a little short because it assumes you will hit your driver 250 not 275 but it will be more accurate for your irons.
CK, I would also refer you to the Q and A at the end of the article that addresses the issue of the really long hitters and the fact that they run out of real estate.
I am an 80 year old golfer and I find that your system for me is very accurate. I figure that my good drives are about 150 yds so if i use your system o figure out the distances for each of my clubs I am very close to your figures for each club.Your system tells me I should be playing a course around 4200 yds and this sounds realistic. Right now I’m playing courses around 5200 yds and almost never hit greens in regulation. part of this is because i don’t have the carry distance to get over water or other obstacles. I am using your formula to make up a yardage chart for all my clubs and see how close we come. It should help me immensly. i do carry
a 3,4,5,6 hybrid in my bag and 6,7,8,9,Pw,Gw,Sw,and Lw and and am not sure how to figure distances on some of those clubs.It would be nice if you had that info.I,m hitting a Callaway 13.5 Deg Driver for my 150 yard ave.
This has been a huge help. Since I started playing again I have a huge reach 310 avg in normal play that I didn’t have as a teenager. I am quickly shaving stokes off my game but it doesn’t really feel like I’m play properly, unless I’m on a long par 4 or par 5, even then the course doesn’t defend as it should. On the other hand I get a ton of short game practice. I think this will help me become better. I was kind of worried about playing off longer tees because others seem to find me pretentious since I’m not a super low handicapper or pro. I think this will help me enjoy the game a lot more because I’m not constantly playing my weak, short end of the bag. We all have a little more fun I think when we can hit more shots that we do very well.
Calculations say “well struck”, not average. BIG difference.
I’m ecstatic that someone gets it……you don’t have to play a mammoth-sized course to enjoy the game. Most people don’t comprehend proper yardage and automatically assume a certain yardage always will do, no matter what the terrain or playability. For the average woman it is especially trying, not to be guffawed or laughed at because you choose to play tees where you are not forced to hit driver-3-wood,-3-wood, 3-wood and STILL not get there – an issue most men would not tolerate. As a low-handicap senior woman player, I am often asked what yardage I play. Well, it certainly isn’t what I tackled in my collegiate or nationally competitive days, 6200-6400 yards. Now, it is more like 5300-5400. Does that mean I am a lesser player just because I don’t hit it as far? I certainly hope not….because everything else is still fine!
I am 70 yrs old. Took up the game seriously this past April. I had no clue as to where to play from. I came across your article and have used it as a guideline ever since. As my game has improved I have modified how I put together a practical 18 holes. Its usually a mix and match of different teeing areas. I have played several rounds from all ‘whites” and all “greens/senior” tees. This has allowed me to develop a GHIN hdcp. I practice a lot and am now a solid 15 hdcp. When I started I drove the ball about 170 yds. I am now driving the ball about 195 yrs. Thank you for your analysis of relative distances etc.
I do not understand a lot of these crits. x28 is a very general guide and serves as a good starting point. It is possible to overcome power with precision and consistency (as mentioned in the article). But if you want to use x10, x25, x36/whatever you and the people you are playing with agree upon than I am sure the author would say go for it.
“Basically by using this you are criticizing the usga of handing tour players courses that are 1000 yards too short.”
Yes if the pros used this method they would no longer be scoring under par and maybe would not be happy scoring the mid 90 average. The fact that pros score so low perfectly illustrates the validity of using club hitting distance as part of a guide to determine course length. Although using a handicap does essentially the same thing it means that short hitters have to take many more strokes which contributes to slow play. (however most slow play I encounter has more to do with attitude than ball chasing.)
Really the takeaway should be simply to play from whatever tee you find enjoyable. I have not played that much but with relaxed rules off the golds I at least have a chance of breaking 90. I played the other day with a different friend who wanted to play off the whites and shot a 98 and he shot 101. I personally do not find a score of +30 to be fun.
I suspect high scores, high level of difficulty and overly competitive players who do not want to give up their advantage keep many people from enjoying the game.
Great work and for those of you who don’t agree with driverX28, here is a little more detail.
If you are driving the ball (on average, key here) 250+yards, you should play from the tips at most public golf courses. On average (key on average), most public courses have a rating of 72-74 and a slope of 139/140 at the tips and above. Factoring in Chris’s driverX28, you are right in line with his calculation (250X28=7,000)
Disagree. Play w/ plenty of 250 yd.+ drivers that are 5-8 hdcps. that from 7000 yds+., couldn’t break 90. Once you hit the 240-250 mark in terms of driver distance, driver X 28 just doesn’t work. Well, not down here at sea level, high humidity, and all-carry golf courses.
Personally, I like Driver X 28 for avg. hitters like myself, 220 yd. drivers of the ball, who occasionally get it out there 240 or so. But I wouldn’t want to play any longer courses than that. 5i X 36 yields about the shortest course I’d want to play.
Let me first start off by saying I appreciate the intent of the article, and am not commenting to bash the author. Also I think there was some fair amount of thought that was put into the formula, and some good points. But I just cannot get this formula to get to a reasonable number at all.
For instance, at a 17 handicap and a good drive around 250, that puts me at an average of 7000 yards. I almost always try to play around 6200, which is plenty long. Also there is no way handicap should be entirely excluded. Doesn’t matter if you hit your driver 350 yards, if you can’t break 100 consistently, you should not be playing more than 6000 yards. Sure there are 30 handicaps that can crush their driver, and from 6000 yards could be playing irons off most tees. If this is upsetting to them, they should be at a driver range instead of a golf course. Unless of course they can card that 106 in under 4 hours.
Also, I put way more thought into what tees I play in comparison to my playing partners. If a course has 130 slope rating and deep rough I have no problem playing from 5900 yards. Same goes for playing on wet fairways, or cold weather. However courses with elevated tee boxes, light rough, dry fairways, and ratings under 120 I have no trouble playing 6400 yards. Same goes for the state of my game, If I carded my last 3 rounds in the 80s I’m fine playing further, If in the prior week I struggled to get a 96, no need for me to play back.
I think people need to walk away with a few more thoughts from this article. 1) the course rating matters 2) course condition matters 3) weather matters 4) The state of your game when you show up to the course matters and 5) Yes your handicap matters
If your a high handicapper and want to play 7000 yards you should either scramble, or learn to pick up your ball quickly and move on. I also agree that it should not matter where your playing partners are playing from. Playing up can also set an example for others. I can’t tell you how many times a random twosome has seen my crush a drive from the whites and decided to instead “play up” with me that day, and believe me these usually end up being people who had no business even thinking about the blues.
A formula I found elsewhere seemed to be much more appropriate:
(Average 7 iron distance X 18 greens) + (Average driver distance X 14 fairways)= which gets me right to the yardage I try to play.
From what I have seen on the course, people need no motivation to play further back, only the opposite. And for the vast majority of golfers out there, I can’t figure how this formula will get them anywhere in the ballpark for a good starting point.
First let me say that most of these folks claiming to hit drivers ‘every time’ off the tee box 260 plus yards, don’t hit it straight. They are only 20 yards off the pga average and they are not on the tour. Lots of golfers think they hit the ball ‘x’ yards where in fact a simple gps proves them wrong.
Now that I have that out of the way, people have to understand that for 70 years the average round of golf, played by the rules strictly remains 95 to 100 according to the PGA stats (which I am certain some of these posters do not) and on a rated course and calculating their handicap with slope and so on and so on (in other words a legit handicap, not a beer pong handicap) they’d not hit nearly as well as they claim.
95 percent of golfers are weekend warriors or hackers and to break 90 by the rules would be huge for all of them. Sure there are some that can score in the 80’s already (which is the goal of this article) and some in the 70’s; but the 95% is 95 to 100 and it’ never changed even though technology has done great things with the ball and clubs.
This article was not written for those that are already as successful as they’ll ever be in golf. This was aimed at making an honest, by the rules game of golf, enjoyable to the masses which is what this was in the very beginning, a game.
Toss the ego, go play an honest game of golf by the rules and calculating the handicap as is required by the PGA and see what one really scores.
The article was meant to help people, not stir up the irate persons that play this game.
This is an interesting discussion, Chris. The only problem (others have noted this above) is you have not considered course difficulty. Your calculation for maximum course enjoyment is solely based on “well hit driver distance.” According to your recommendation, I should play at 240*28=6720. Others suggest using the 5i, so that would be 165*36=5940. The best answer is probably in the middle (6720+5940)/2=6330.
Let’s consider course slopes. The USGA sets the highest is 155 with the standard set at 113. This is just a starting point for discussion, so what if we average these values to arrive at a slope rating of 134. My suggestion then would be to find a set of tees that maximizes the best balance between distance and difficulty. For example, I calculated that my average course distance should be 6330. As I look at the scorecard, I find the tees closes to that yardage, and then I look at the slope. Is the slope greater or less than 134? If it’s greater than 134, maybe I move up a set of tees. If it’s less than 134, maybe I move back a set of tees. These modifications are certainly not perfect, but maybe they are a starting point to allow for course difficulty.
We are talking about enjoyment here. I don’t think it is appropriate to simply use driver distance in isolation of other variables as we consider which tees to select to maximize our enjoyment.
This is something that has been around for 70 years and no PGA teaching professional dares to include it in their class.
Another thing that they never tell students is something that I heard Lee Trevino say in person at Las Colinas in Irving back in the 70’s.
For a weekend player, what you guys call a hacker, to shoot bogie golf or better is equal to a PGA pro shooting par golf in a tournament, and, shooting par golf will not win any tournaments these days.
So not only do golfers need to use the 28 rule they also need to understand the reality of what they might really be able to shoot and include the old 38/24 rule as well.
The average golfer (not a pro, a hacker/weekender) can only hit a club well every time that is 38 inches or shorter and with 24 degrees of loft or more.
Common sense just isn’t too common these days it seems.
Adjusted par is the answer. Starting with longest iron distance. If can’t reach par 3 add one stroke. For par 4 add driver distance to longest driver distance if shorter than par 4 add one stroke. For par 5 add driver distance and longest iron to longest wood or hybrid if shorter than par 5 add one stroke. People want to shoot for par. Not have a big handicap based on a USGA par established by pros.
I meant par for me should be 90.
I am relatively new to golf at the age of 70. The first thing I observed is this whole handicap system, which to me is useless. What should be done is to make par adjustable. In my case I need par 3 to be 4, par 4 to be 5, and par 5 to be 6 making course par 80.
The clubs the average tour player hits on holes should tell us what all of us should play.
If they hit a driver 7 iron iron on a par four, 300 and 180 (approx. 480 yds.) I hit a driver 230 yds . 7 iron 145. My hole is (375 yds. )That is equal. I play 6200 yds, they play 1.28 x 6300 yds equals 7900 yds. for pros.
ps Im 73 years old
I”m taking my wife to one of the golf courses in Calgary on Saturday and she is not to excited! I of course need to impress her and show her how fun golf really is. Great post, I enjoyed the read.
Keith, There is another article on our blog that I think you would enjoy. It is called “Confessions of an Aging Golfer”. I too enjoy playing a lot more when I do not feel like I have to hit a home run on each hole to reach a green in regulation.
I am an aging hacker (late ’60’s). Driver distance 205-210 with a driver that was fitted to me. I’m not going to get much longer/ Over the past several years I have watched my handicap grow. Most of that was terrible short game, but I also noticed how many times I was overswinging, trying to each greens with fairway woods. I was constantly in the 90’s when I used to be comfortably in the mid-80’s. Recently I played a course at 5,100 yards instead of the more common 6,200-6,400 range. I shot 80 including a couple of penalties. What an exhilarating feeling! Based on that experience, I strongly support the driver x 28 concept. It’s bringing back the fun for me.
No disrespect intended, but this method simply does not make good sense. You’re suggesting that someone who hits a 250 yard drive should play a 7,000 yard course…..and enjoy it. Not likely to happen. Also, this would mean the pros should be playing 8,400 yard courses…..and enjoying it. Not likely to happen.
A BETTER METHOD (for a Par 72 course):
your typical 5-iron distance X 36
For a many pros…200 X 36 = 7,200
For many amateurs…175 X 36 = 6,300
Ideally, to score “par” on a standard Par-72 course, you should hit every fairway and every green in regulation, then 2-putt every green. This leaves 36 shots from tee to green. That’s where the “36” in my formula comes from. In other words…for a Par-71 course, multiply times 35…for a Par-70, multiply times 34…etc.
For heaven’s sake, PLEASE don’t suggest that amateurs should play from tees that are WAY to long. It already takes 4+ hours to play a round of golf on any given Saturday. Using your method, it would likely take 6 hours to play a round of golf, and NOBODY would break 140! 😉
It does not matter what club you use to make a yardage index, but I question your index of 36 for a 5 iron. I think it makes courses too short for most players. I think 7,200 for the pros is pretty much drive and wedge on every hole. If you truly want the pros to hit every club in the bag, you are right the course gets very long. Fact is they do not hit every club in the bag and I feel that is unfortunate for the game. The data we have says someone who hits a 5 iron 175 yards will on average hit their driver 261 yards. A 6,300 yard course in my mind is way to short to be enjoyable.
I completely agree with you that its a shame that most holes for pros are drive and wedge and that half the bag doesn’t get used. To that idealized version of the game, your x28 formula makes perfect sense.
However, telling a reader, who is reading this article to find meaningful advice on what they should be playing, that they should be playing an 8000 yd course when there aren’t any 8000 yd courses is meaningless and pointless. How is that good advice?
I think your intent with the article was not clear that this advice was for a game that does not not exist and its more for pure philosophical discussion. That’s the only conclusion I can draw if you are intent to defend the x28 formula when the results from the formula isn’t practical.
Matthew, Really good point, but remember that the Driver x 28 formula is not meant to be a rigid requirement to having an enjoyable round. Course layout, playing conditions, and slope will play a part in determining the tees to play. That being said, there is no questions that the Driver x 28 formula breaks down for really long and short hitters simply because there are not courses built that will allow these players to hit all the clubs in their bag. For the long and short hitters, we probably need to change the definition of an ideal course to something other than a course that requires a player to use all (or most) of their clubs during a round. Another way to handle this is to say that any player who can drive it 265 yards (265 x 28 = 7,420yds) can probably play the longest tees available and any player that cannot drive it 150 yards (150 x 28 = 4,200yds) should play the shortest tees available.
I actually use your driver X 28 formula, and don’t have any problems with it, but I DO think your formula puts you at the outer edge of what you should be playing. One, I think the 61% of driver equaling one’s 6 iron that the article mentioned is off. I play in a Saturday group of 8-15 guys, and I’m pretty “on” what each guy hits his clubs….I can’t think of a single one whose 6 iron isn’t nearly 70% of their driver yardage….I’m 155 w/ the 6i, 220 avg. w/ driver, for example (now perhaps as SKILL increases, what you hit at the top end of the bag tends to grow more than the lower end?). Buddy of mine who is a much longer hitter plays 66-6700 yd. tees, and he hits it 250 off the tee; when he backs up to 7k-7100, he struggles, no doubt.
You raise an interesting point about the relationship between how far you hit your driver and how far you hit each iron. The data I used to determine this relationship is from Trackman numbers on the pro tour. It was data they collected a few years ago. I just went to their website to get updated numbers https://blog.trackmangolf.com/2017-pga-lpga-tour-avg/ but they have changed the data to only include carry distance which is not as useful when determining which course to play. I will try to convert the carry distance to total distance for each club and get this information to you. Even if the numbers have changed over the years, it is important to realize that the Driver Times 28 Formula is not intended to be a precise number only a range. We recently installed Toptracer on our range in Cincinnati and will be installing it in Ann Arbor in November. We are looking at things golfers can do with that technology. One thing for sure is the ability to plot how far you can hit each of your clubs. This is great information when you are playing, but also if you want you can use that information to individualize your optimum course length based on your actual club data.
I am 71 years old, play courses 6,100-6,300 yards, carry a 4.1 USGA handicap index. My average driver is 220 yards, and the 28 times estimate is 6,160 yards, spot on for me. I have shot even par three of my last six rounds, and shot lower than my age for the first time this summer on a 6,340 yard par 70 course.
1. The forced carry distances are important to me. With a maximum carry of 210 with the driver, I can only handle courses that do not have longer forced carries.
2. I appear to hit my irons longer than the 64%. I carry a six iron 154, almost 14 yards more than predicted
from the 64% figure. Perhaps that matters.
3. I personally think players should start no farther back than the 6,200 yard tees, and play those tees until they are able to maintain a handicap less than USGA 5 for a season, then move back a set the next season if you want. If you can’t maintain a low single digit from a particular yardage, then I don’t care how far you hit it, you’re not good enough to be farther back.
4. My typical group is a 78 year old playing senior tees, me at 71 playing white tees, and my 9 year old grandson playing youth tees that are so far up that I can’t get a driver to many of them, yet we have fun, play in under four hours, and have never had a ranger say a negative word.
What kind of putter do you have because I think I want that bet. I play all the time with golfers playing different tees and have literally never experience a problem with upset rangers. Do you ever play with women golfers? Do you play the same tees? I think I would take an upset ranger over an upset woman.
I personally dislike playing in a group when there is a huge disparity in driver distances. I find that a much bigger distraction that starting the hole from different tees. In addition, it’s embarrassing for the short driver and frustrating for the long hitter.
Just try playing in a group using driver times 28, and if a ranger gives you a bad time, tell me where to send my putter. Otherwise, you can send yours to Miles of Golf, 3113 Carpenter Rd., Ypsilanti, MI. By the way I know a great golf shop you can buy a new one.
C’mon Mr. Mile…I’m willing to bet my putter that if you and I (and two of your buddies) were to play a round of golf where each of us was using whatever tee-box we wanted, Ranger Rick would be all over us, telling us to “pick up the pace”. I constantly get reamed by my golf buddies for even THINKING about playing the tips while they are up at the whites! Not only would your strategy slow down the round (which you well know is one of the major problems of today’s golf), but I’m certain it would be one of the least enjoyable rounds we ever played! The only thing I can think of that would destroy the rythm-of-a-round more than your strategy is to have a beverage cart on every hole…but then again, I doubt any of my buddies would mind that! 🙂 Grand Rapids Golf Examiner, Duane Shore
Interesting discussion. I did the math on my driver distance x28 and 5 iron distance x36. I’m 50 and carry a 2-3 handicap, hit my driver (carry plus roll) typically 250-260 and 5 iron about 180. This translates to 7000 or about 6500 yards. I personally find I tend to enjoy courses the most that are somewhere between the two distances so depending on the layout I can see either number working (how often do you have to lay up off the tee, how many holes play significantly uphill or downhill), weather (cold? wet or firm fairways? sea level or some elevation?). I’d say the driver x28 is a reasonable indication of the MAX distance you should play, and the 5 iron x 36 more an indication of the MINIMUM distance. I totally agree with the statements that a player should play from tees that let them have chance to reach the greens in regulation with ‘decent’ tee shots. At my home club – one course is 6800 from the tips and I don’t really enjoy playing it from one set up (6300) that much – short iron after short iron if I play well. The other is just over 7000 from the tips and 6600 from one set up – I tend to play the tips when the conditions are good (not when it’s wet/cold/etc) and one set up probably 2/3 of the time. Sometimes I do play courses closer to 6200-6300 (and may only have more than 9 iron into 1/3 of the holes in regulation), and while it’s fun for a change, I definitely would not enjoy playing as much if I did it regularly. These are good formulas to use with people I play with (to get them on the right tee!) … probably break down at the extremes. Well thought out article.
Come on Jim. I am 17 and hit my driver about 270 yards. According to your driverX28 system, I should be playing a yardage of 7560 yards (longer than almost every pga course). Also, your idea states that a player who hits it 296, what you posted as the average pga drive, should play from 8288 yards. Where are you, in la-la land? I understand what your trying to get at but come on, I think 26 is a much bettter estimate. Basically by using this you are criticizing the usga of handing tour players courses that are 1000 yards too short. Give me a break.
Patrick, If you go through the logic of the driver x 28 formula, I think you will find that most courses for you and PGA pros make par fours a drive and short iron game and there are no three shot par fives. If you played a course with par 4s that made you hit long and medium irons, it would be a very long course. What happens on a lot of courses, you run out of fairway on doglegs or just fairway space when you hit is so far so often you and the pros end up hitting fairway or irons off the tee. Be sure to go through the logic of the formula. If you do I think you will find it hard to argue that it works for the majority of golfers, but there is no denying that at the fringes for real long hitters and for real short hitters there are just not courses to occomodate them.
I had the same gripe as Patrick but I understand your logic a bit better with the x28 that in an ideal world a 300 yd driver should be playing a course of 8,400. However, realistically courses are not this long so this formula does not help one bit to answer the question you pose. Unless you are stating that from 250 on you should be playing the longest tees they have to offer which I think is just ridiculous.
Even some pros were complaining that Bethpage at this years PGA at ~7400 was too long and creating an unfair game between longer and average hitters. Just because you can drive the ball 270 yards doesn’t mean you can handle a course of 6200 from a practical standpoint let alone ~7500
Great idea, but the yardage is too long in my opinion unless you use the result as the MAXIMUM yardage for a par 72. Also, deduct one 5 iron or 5H distance for each stroke under a par of 72. For a golfer who averages 235 and hits their 5-thing 170, that would be a limit of 6580, 6410 or 6240 yards for par 72, 71 and 70 courses.
The concept of matching tees to distance is a good idea that I hope catches on. It is an issue for me, age 67 and a short hitting 6 but finding I have more fun from the whites these days. When the course is too long it’s like your constantly playing uphill and putting for pars.
The method that Debby mentioned appeared in Stina Sternberg’s column, multiplying the distance of your 5 thing by 36. As above, deduct one club or two for par 71 and 70’s (multiply by 35 or 34). It doesn’t take long to run through the courses you play frequently and figure which tees to play from.
I THINK YOUR ESTIMATE OF 28X IS VERY REALISTIC FOR HAVING AN ENJOYABLE ROUND OF GOLF!!!
Good idea, but the factor of 28 is too high. I took the avg. course length on the PGA (7,200) and LPGA tours (6,500) and divided by the average driving distance (294 and 246, from Trackman) and got 24.5 and 26.5, respectively. Make that 25.5 for recreational golfers.
A man who drives 230 on avg. (which is pretty good) should play a course of ~5,900 yards. A woman who can drive 190 should play a course measuring ~4,800 yards (and good luck finding red tees that short).
One course I play is 5,917 for the whites and I’ve broken 80 four times on it in the last three years. The other course I play often is 6,402 from the whites and I’ve broken 80 there once.
Your point is so vital, though. We’re just out there to have fun. Why should give ourselves a distance handicap the the best golfers in the world don’t have?
I totally agree with you Bob. So much depends on long, accurate drives; and as we get older that is just not as possible for someone that plays 1-maybe 2 times a week.
Thanks for the data
You are correct the pros play from the ladies tees. That’s why they have the scores under par. Factor of
7200/295=24.4. So play like the pros take your average drive times 24.4. Mine is 210*24.4=5124. I am a 8 Handicap. When I play my pro tees I can shoot par. Not every time but more fun.
For a long while the idea of playing from proper tees has been a pet peeve of mine. Why anyone would torture themselves by playing a course where they are out of their league relative to distance is beyond me. I’ve played with high double-digits who insist on playing back tees and seniors who insist on playing the same tees they played in their prime (I’m 52). It’s all about the ego.
Bradley S. Klein of Golfweek magazine addressed this issue about a year ago, and it seems that there is a “magic number” of 6000 yds, which men will not cross under when selecting the tees they want to play from. But of course length alone does not correspond to difficulty.
In Myrtle Beach I like to play at the courses at Barefoot Resort. There are four, designed by Pete Dye, Davis Love II, Tom Fazio and Greg Norman. All the courses have five sets of tees. At two of those courses, the Norman and Fazio, the distances/ratings from the middle (of 5) tees are about 57-5800 yds, with slopes around 115-117. Only ONE tee box back, the distances at both courses increase by around 700 yards, and the slope rating rockets up to 133. First time on Fazio I played those longer tees because the two younger guys I was paired with played them. It was a nightmare. I later played alone, moved up, and had a great time, if not a great score. Those were the tees that “fit” me.
Most of the complaints I hear from players who refuse to move up is that the course is now a pushover. Never mind that from the longer tee they end up at the end of the day coughing up blood all over their scorecard. If a course is properly designed so that hazards are “in play” regardless of the tees you play from, a course can be challenging from any set of tees.
I heard 5-iron distance times 36. e.g. 150 x 36 = 5400 yards. Nice model to propose to men. Women are so tired of men stepping back to the other tee boxes and watching them suffer. 🙂
The 28 times model doesn’t seem to work for women even though it probably should. The average amature woman’s drive I understand is 140 yards. Therefore 28 X 140 is 3920. This short of a course does not seem to be available or probably acceptable to the average woman player.
Chris – I’m so glad you’ve tackled this subject and defined the way ahead to help those of us that never were able, or are no longer able, to overpower a golf course. The problem of tee selection has been creeping up on me for the past 15 years (I’m now 78), but the “Driver X 28” gives me the comfort of knowing that the subject now has been credibly addressed. My much younger and stronger playing partners will now understand and, I believe, will accept my move up on the tees in our games. And as you stated, this will allow me to enjoy the game more in the future.
Thanks for this great innovation!!!!!!