The Chickenstix Golf way is about playing fun, smart, stress-free golf. A big part of that is learning to play within your limits and skill level.
You can use your time at the range to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but the key to enjoyment on the course is taking your ego out of the equation.
Many golfers choose a tee box that makes the course too long for their skill level. Pick the right tee box for your ability, and you’ll see your score go down and your fun factor go up.
But more importantly, setting yourself up so that you can hit more 6, 7 and 8 irons instead of hybrids or fairway woods on your approach shots is going to help you score better.
Determining Your Ideal Tee Box
Here are a couple of options you can use to help figure out which tee box you should be hitting from…
Tee It Forward Initiative
Tee It Forward is a joint initiative between the PGA of America and the USGA. This initiative encourages players to play from a set of tees that fits their driving distance. Teeing it forward not only increases the enjoyment of the game, but it also improves speed of play.
A survey of Tee It Forward participants found:
- 56% played faster
- 56% are likely to play more often
- 83% hit more-lofted clubs into greens
- 85% had more fun
- 93% will Tee It Forward Again.
Tee It Forward provides the following guidelines for determing the total 18-Hole yardages you should be playing. Look at the chart below, then pick the tee box on the course that gives you the closest match.
|Driver Distance||Recommended 18-Hole Yardages|
|275 yds||6,700 – 6,900 yds|
|250 yds||6,200 – 6,400 yds|
|225 yds||5,800 – 6,000 yds|
|200 yds||5,200 – 5,400 yds|
|175 yds||4,400 – 4,600 yds|
|150 yds||3,500 – 3,700 yds|
|125 yds||2,800 – 3,000 yds|
|100 yds||2,100 – 2,300 yds|
NOTE: Any time you are looking at yardages for clubs, be honest with yourself. Use your average yardage, not your “I hit it perfect” yardage.
Athletic Motion Golf Method
The Athletic Motion Golf method says to take your 5-iron distance and multipy by 35. This should give you an 18-Hole course yardage recommendation. Play from whatever tees get you the closest to this number.
|5-Iron Distance||Recommended 18-Hole Yardages|
|200 yds||7,200 yds|
|190 yds||6,840 yds|
|180 yds||6,480 yds|
|170 yds||6,120 yds|
|160 yds||5,760 yds|
|150 yds||5,400 yds|
|140 yds||5,040 yds|
|130 yds||4,680 yds|
|120 yds||4,320 yds|
General Rule of Thumb
If you are playing from the correct tees you’ll ideally be able to reach Par 3s greens in 1 shot, Par 4s in 2 shots, and Par 5s in 3 shots.
Another option is to look at your average drive on the short to medium par 4 holes. If you aren’t in 7-iron range after a good drive, you might be playing from tees that are too far away.
Not sure of your typical yardage per club, or want to see where you stack up? Check out the data below compiled by Foresight Sports.
Club Distance for the Average Amateur
In 2019, Foresight Sports compiled average golf club distances for a wide variety of players. These players ranged in age from young to older, and from low to high handicap.
Because golfers come in all shapes, sizes and skill levels, Foresight created a range of yardages for each club. From their studies, older males and/or high handicap playera averaged 200 yards with their Driver. Younger and/or low handicap males averaged 260 yards with their Driver.
This created a range of 200-260 yards for the typical amateur male hitting a driver. The typical female amateur has a driving range of 140 to 200 yards.
|Club||Male – Older or High HCP||Male – Young or Low HCP||Female – Older or High HCP||Female – Young or Low HCP|
|Driver||200 yds||260 yds||140 yds||200 yds|
|3Wood||180 yds||235 yds||120 yds||185 yds|
|5Wood||170 yds||210 yds||105 yds||170 yds|
|3-Iron||155 yds||210 yds||95 yds||155 yds|
|4-Iron||145 yds||185 yds||85 yds||145 yds|
|5-Iron||135 yds||175 yds||80 yds||135 yds|
|6-Iron||125 yds||165 yds||70 yds||125 yds|
|7-Iron||115 yds||155 yds||65 yds||115 yds|
|8-Iron||105 yds||145 yds||60 yds||110 yds|
|9-Iron||95 yds||130 yds||55 yds||95 yds|
Just to give you some context, the average male PGA Tour player hits his Driver 285 yards and his 7-iron 170 yards. The average female Tour player hits 245 with the Driver and 145 yds with a 7-iron.
An On Course Example
Let’s take the average amateur club data from above and apply it to an actual golf course.
One of the top-rated public golf courses in the United States is Bandon Dunes in Oregon. Here are the 18-hole distances for each of the tee boxes:
|Tee Box||Total Yardage|
|Royal Blue||3,945 yds|
According to the Tee It Forward Initiative guidelines, you should be hitting from the Black tees if you can hit driver 275 yards. If your driver tops out around 200 yards, then the Orange tees are your best option. A 250 yard driver average would put you on the Gold tees.
Now, let’s take a look at Hole No. 1 on the Bandon Dunes course. Like many good course designs, the first hole is a fairly straightforward par 4 so you can get off to a good start.
The distance from the Gold tees to the center of the green on Hole No. 1 is 332 yards. A 207 yard drive to the meaty part of the fairway would leave you with a 125 yard approach shot.
For the average high handicap golfer, you’ll be hitting a 6 or 7-iron for the approach. This should be fairly comfortable, but given that this is one of the shortest par 4s on this course, you might have a better overall experience moving back one tee box.
The distance from the Black tees to the center of the green on Hole No. 1 is 386 yards. A 260 yard drive to the meaty part of the fairway would leave you with a 138 yard approach shot.
The player capable of consistently driving 260 yards will be able to choke down a bit on an 8-iron and comfortably reach the green.
When it comes to choosing the correct tee box for your game, it’s important to have a general idea of the distance you hit with each club. Take ego out of it for a more stress-free experience.
If you are struggline putting that ego aside, we challenge you to try one tee box shorter for one round. Ask yourself the following 3 questions after the round:
- Did I have more fun?
- Did I score better?
- Was I less frustrated
Changing up your tee box will also give you a completely different experience on the course. Some hazards will no longer be in play, but others might now be part of the challenge.
Remember, golf should be fun!