The Longleaf Tee System is a joint initiative of the American Society of Golf Course Architects Foundation and the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation. Our mission is to offer golf course owners and operators a practical, affordable way to scale their course in a manner that will enable more players to enjoy playing golf while keeping the design, integrity and challenge of the layout intact. Download the printable brochure.
In its current form, golf is struggling to grow. Most courses are simply too hard and unwelcoming for those who aren’t the more highly skilled players. The holes are too long, the pressure to play at a proper pace is too great, and the emphasis on scoring lower can be too formidable. Without creating multiple types of golf courses specifically designed for every kind of player, the game caters to a limited market. But what if there was a way to recreate that same expectation for every type of player? A way for each golfer to share the same golf experience, play at comparable speeds and feel welcome and appreciated?
Introducing the Longleaf Tee System.
The Longleaf Tee System is a joint initiative of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation. Our mission is to offer golf course owners and operators a practical, affordable way to adjust the length of their course in a manner that will enable more players to enjoy playing golf while keeping the design, integrity and challenge of the layout intact.
The USGA® defines a female bogey golfer as a player with a Course Handicap of 24 and can hit drives 150 yards (total yardage), while able to reach a 280-yard hole in two shots. That is the maximum yardage for a par 4 under those parameters; holes requiring approach shots with irons should measure significantly less. Furthermore, the implication is that holes longer than 280 yards will require at least one additional shot to reach the green.
So how many par 4s at your course measure longer than 280 yards from the most forward tees? In essence, we’re asking the female bogey golfer to play mostly par 5s. And then we demand they keep a proper pace-of-play. Using the correlation of distance between a driver and every other club in the bag, we will show that the female bogey golfer should play a course measuring approximately 3800 yards. A quick Google search of scorecards reveal zero courses that do so. In fact, virtually all courses have a most forward tee yardage between 4800-to-5600 yards. Is it any wonder a significant portion of golfers do not feel welcome on the course? We have set these players up for failure. This same argument could apply to youth, to seniors, to beginners, and many other occasional players. Golf is simply not providing a proper path to welcome them. Until now.
Scaling a course means providing a fair and enjoyable test for every player on every hole. The most common misconception is that tee placements should allow for players to hit from similar distances after a drive. In fact, proper scaling means players will have similar tests on their approach, meaning a hole’s design that calls for a driver/7-iron for the most skilled players will also call for a driver/7-iron for the beginners and less-skilled amateurs.
Years of study, validated by Trackman® measurements of all levels of players, show that there is a direct correlation between the distance a player can hit their driver (carry) and the other clubs in their bag. From Tour players to the avid club players, the percentages are remarkably consistent. The chart below illustrates the relationship between the distance of every club to the player’s driver distance.
Below is an example of a typical 9-hole layout offering two par 3s, five par 4s, and two par 5s. It shows the corresponding yardages of how each hole would play based on the Longleaf Tee System. This example would test virtually every club in the bag while preserving the integrity of the design. Even more, this layout provides more fun and scoring opportunities for players while allowing for faster play for everyone.
Forget word or color associations for tees
The Longleaf Tee System is simple and practical, yet very profound. It eliminates outdated norms and vernacular, such as men’s tees, ladies’ tees, senior tees, or color associations like white, red, or blue; there are now simply multiple tees locations to begin each hole at a yardage based on how far any person hits their drive. As a player develops their game, the further back they play. As the player get older and their distance begins to diminish, the player moves up.
Beginning with 100 yards, numbered poles are located on the range–ascending from 1 to 8. Players hit a number of drives, matching their average carry distance to the most closely associated number pole. The player now has the suggested tee location number optimal for their round.
A groundbreaking scorecard layout based on the Longleaf Tee System:
Improved success for golf facilities, player recruitment/retention and golfer satisfaction are within reach.
Tee construction can be accomplished for a modest cost relative to the general range of capital improvement options available to the golf facility. In fact, many experts would consider additional tees as greatest ROI for a course. Factoring in variables such as tee size, irrigation upgrades, topography and amount of grading required, grass types, use of sod, sprigs or seed, etc., the typical course should be able to install tees, ranging in size from six to eight hundred square feet, for under $4.00 per square foot. Some courses may be able to create additional tees via mowing only.
The immediate benefit is there will be more rounds played by your current clientele providing you with more cart rentals and F&B. There will be a better pace of play. New players of all ages and gender will have success and enjoy the game!
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