Tee It Forward

One of the game changers that Jack Nicklaus is involved in is an initiative to get players to move up a set of tees or two as they grow older. Better to do that than to lose them to the frustrations of the aging process.

The game is hard enough from the championship tees and the men’s tees when you’re young. Why not move up when you get to the point that you have to hit all of your approach shots with fairway woods or rescue clubs?

As I wrote in “Still Going For It at 86,” I came across a foursome where one of the “younger” men was playing the white tees and his two companions were playing the red tees…and on some holes the teals, the most forward tees at Desert Mountain.¬†

But this notion of teeing it forward isn’t just for older men. My first coach who worked with Tour players, Dave Collins, got his start with Jim McLean at Doral Country Club.

One day the two of them were tooling around in a golf cart on the White course and they see a familiar male figure on the red tees. McLean says, “Is that Lanny Wadkins playing the red tees over there?”

And sure enough, they get over there and it’s Lanny Wadkins playing a three-ball scramble from the red tees. What was he thinking, they wondered?

“Well,” says Lanny, “I know how to shoot in the 60s. I’m exploring what it takes to shoot in the 50s.”

I just came across a similar experiment in Golf Digest, “Living Large: How small would a course have to be before a 14-handicapper could break par for 18 holes? I found out.” It’s by their fitness expert, Ron Kaspriske — Google his “20-in-20;” he has some great golf exercises — and the thing I most liked about his experiment is that he broke the mold. He explains why in the article, but he wasn’t so much concerned with playing from tees per se, but playing from places that produced the most fun experience.

Having watched many of my older friends gradually inch toward the forward tees, I think most of us are smart enough to make the move when it’s time. I do have one friend who has begun to think of himself as old, has moved up to the white tees, but still hits it as far as he did when he played the blues. Every time he thumps another one way by me, I threaten to drag him back to the blues.

But maybe he’s an “early adapter,” and smart enough to make the move while he’s still young enough to produce the pleasure of a crisply struck approach shot with an iron.

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One Response to Tee It Forward

  1. Absolutely! It is thrilling to be on the green in two!