The Right Set of Tees for You


I enjoy reading your weekly Q&A. As the saying goes, I try and 'leave my ego in the trunk' and play the right set of tees for me, regardless of which tees the other players in my group are using. But I'm curious about using the course rating and slope as a guideline rather than just yardage. Should one be considering the slope and rating of the different tees when deciding where to tee from?
' Cal

Before we decide which set of tees to play we need to understand why we play the game and what makes it so attractive to us. Beating ourselves up on the course doesnt make sense and only takes away from this wonderful game.
Golf allows us to satisfy a subconscious urge to evaluate ourselves. For this reason, it is a very personal sport. We can enhance the enjoyment of our experience by playing and competing with friends in a wonderful environment while going through the evaluation process.
Unfortunately, we are often persuaded by our egos or so-to-speak friends, to accept a challenge which only detracts from the enjoyment of the game and negates the very reason why we are there in the first place.
The appropriate challenge is playing a course which makes it possible ' not necessarily easy ' to par each hole. If you are playing a hole where it is impossible to reach the green in regulation, then you are not playing from the right set of tees. The course setup should be such that tee boxes on all 18 holes are considerate of the skill level of those who intend to use them. A suitable par 4 would allow you to reach the green with a very good drive followed by an equally good mid-iron approach.
In selecting a course or set of tees, you should primarily consider distance. The average golfer should be selecting a 6,200-yard course (click to see our Growing the Game research report) as his first step. The course rating is very closely correlated to the distance. Slope rating is essentially the degree of difficulty for the average golfer compared to the difficulty for the scratch golfer with 113 as the norm to which all scores are adjusted.
The slope can increase significantly without increasing the distance because of forced carries, narrow fairways, deep rough, etc. It is suggested therefore that you consider both the tee-box distance (correlated with course rating) and slope if you want to make the challenge appropriate for your skill level.
The rating appropriate for the average male golfer (16-handicap) should be about 70, with a slope in range of 125.
This would be a good starting point and would allow the golfer to play in less than four hours ' if he is not spending too much time with the cart girl ' and also prepare for his next shot while waiting for his fellow competitors to execute theirs.
Playing the appropriate tees will make the game so much more enjoyable for you and pleasant for everybody else on the course.
Please help our game grow and enjoy yourself at the same time. Play the right set of tees.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
Frank Thomas