<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=6393577&amp;fmt=gif">

Promoting forward tees may create better and happier golfers

5 min read
Jun 19, 2024

When walking around the golf course, you quickly notice that players use different tees, but what you might not know is that tees aren't necessarily a reflection of a golfer's skill level. They are just as much about time, game experience, or variation. In this article, Players 1st data shows who’s most likely to try different tees and why they do it.

Choosing which tee to play from can be a dilemma for some golfers. Outdated assumptions and habits about which players should use which tees shouldn't play a role, but unfortunately, they still do sometimes. 

Most golfers can probably recall at least one situation on the course where they've heard certain tees referred to as "ladies' tees". For odd reasons, this has affected the sport and its players for generations, creating a stigma that forward tees aren't the proper way to play, at least not for men. 

But that's obviously not true, and thankfully, many have come to realize this. A 2021 NGF report even shows that many who try playing from forward tees not only become better golfers but also find the game more enjoyable.

Promoting forward tees may create better and happier golfers  (7) (1)
Figure 1: Benefits and challenges of forward tees. From the “Playing the Right Tees” report. Source: The National Golf Foundation (NGF)

In fact, 8 out of 10 golfers experienced a more fun game, and over a third played their rounds quicker. Add to that the fact that 3 out of 4 score better when they play from forward tees, and you have three solid reasons to give it a try. 

So, why do golfers, especially men, continue to play from the back tees, even if they know deep down that their abilities might not match up? Well, besides the positive impact of using forward tees, the NGF report also states that 93% of golfers are affected by their ego when they decide not to move to a forward tee while 87% believe peer pressure plays a role in their decision.

What characterizes players who welcome forward tees? 

There is a clear connection between those who embrace forward tees and their type as golfers. A Players 1st Panel Survey from December 2022 highlights this, so let’s take a closer look at the golfers who actually use forward tees and why they do so. 

Our findings are based on more than 600 male golfers who claim that they sometimes, often, or always play a round from a given front tee. Among these players, a clear picture appears of who uses tees other than the back tees.

Promoting forward tees may create better and happier golfers  (4) (1)
Figure 2: Forward tee golfer vs. Back tee golfer. The results are based on 604 responses from Danish male golfers in the Players 1st’s “Voice of Golfers” panel. Source: Players 1st

The typical male player who tends to play rounds from forward tees is usually older, highly club dependent, and loyal to his membership. He plays at least a couple of times a week and is generally happy and satisfied with his club and membership, as he has a positive NPS (Net Promoter Score)

It makes sense that with age, golfers might need to adjust the distance from which they tee off. We previously explored this with a golf course architect, where we discussed how best to design the course for slow swing speed players, which is a category that many senior golfers see themselves in. 

Also, if you play the same course often, the different tees offer a chance to save time and provide new dimensions to a familiar course, giving the golfer some variation in their game.

The more hesitant type of golfers concerning forward tees 

Among those less willing to play from forward tees, yet playing it from time to time, the experienced golfers are not nearly as much to be found. Instead, this group includes those who are less satisfied with their club, play less than once a week, and are not as loyal. 

The reasons behind this might be that less frequent players don't feel the need to shorten the round since they want to get the most out of it when they finally make it to the course. Also, many players who don't use forward tees haven't yet reached an age where physical reasons necessitate moving forward a bit, or maybe they don’t want to identify as slow swing players because of suddenly being categorized as ‘old golfers’.  

Some panel participants are not included in this context because they never play from forward tees, which prompts a closer look at the reasons for this. Although we haven't yet investigated ourselves why, our data provides a rough idea of what some of the explanations might be. 

Reasons golfers tee off a bit forward 

We have also surveyed the reasons behind the choice to play from forward tees, and some interesting trends appear. Our findings show, much like the results from the NGF report mentioned previously in this article, that many choose to play from alternative tees to change the game experience or increase the enjoyment of a round of golf.  

Despite this, over half of the panel's participants said that the reason they play from a front tee is because they are playing with others who do. So, they aren't doing it for themselves but for their golfing buddies.

Promoting forward tees may create better and happier golfers  (6) (1)
Figure 3: Reasons for teeing forward. The results are based on 604 responses from Danish male golfers in the Players 1st’s “Voice of Golfers” panel. Source: Players 1st


However, it gets really interesting when we look at other parts of this survey. Many of the same participants indicated that they would be interested in playing rounds of 6, 9, or 12 holes if their clubs offered them.

In fact, a full 52% claimed they would go for the shorter alternative. Given that time is the reason for playing fewer than 18 holes, which often puts the traditional round format up for debate these days, it's puzzling that only 10% of respondents play from forward tees to speed up their round, while over half of the same people said they would take up an offer for shorter rounds.  

Perhaps this only adds to the stigma on forward tees, which assumingly prevents many players from getting the most out of their game? 

Everyone could benefit from using forward tees

Wondering how you can use these insights as a golf course manager? Well, as these studies have pointed out, many golfers get an improved gaming experience when they move forward to tee off. And as a golf course manager or operator, you always want your golfers to have the best possible experience on the course. But that's just one of the many benefits that forward tees bring to the table, and now we just need to seize them. 

There are many reasons to promote forward tees among your golfers, and it seems that it’s only the ruined reputation and the age-old stigma of forward tees that hold back players who actually want to give them a try. The fact is that it can bring positive benefits both for the golfers themselves and golf course managers worldwide, but it's the people in the sport who need to make an effort to break this forward tee taboo, including players, coaches, clubs, and associations. 


Boost your club’s member and guest experience to stay ahead of the game! Unlock expert insights, pro tips, inspiring club success stories, and more…