Stepping Back to the Tips in Golf

Many amateurs fear moving to the back tees because of the added distance to every tee and approach shot. Personally, I am not fussed about this aspect of the challenge and relish the opportunity to put stress on my game. So, a few days ago I stepped back to the tips at Osprey Links Golf Course to practice playing longer distances. Unfortunately, my experiment did not go as planned, but it was great fun regardless.

Moving back to the blue tees at my home course only adds 205 yards to the length of the back 9. However, those 205 yards do change the challenge because the back 9 is very tight on all but the two par 5s. The biggest change is on the 17th hole, the extra 33 yards really changes the shot. This is what the blues tees look like:

From the blues, this shot is approximately 200 yards to the center of the green.

Generally, I would find 3032 yards (back 9 distance from the blue tees) rather shortish, However, for some reason a couple of days ago I had to really grind to shot a 6-over 41. I hit the ball great off the tee, but my approach shots were less than stellar. It was not that hitting from 120 yards (made 2 of 6 from this distance) to the green is a challenge, but I seemed to pull everything left. The funny thing is that a 120 yard approach shot is in my wheel house. But, alas not a few days ago.

Moving back to the tips is part of my strategy to be more aggressive. By hitting from the blue tees, I provide a greater opportunity to play more aggressively. I am a bit farther back from the green, have different approach angles and can cut a few more corners when possible. For that reason my experiment of moving back was a success.

I have had the opportunity think about my round from the tips and I realized that my club selection was very good. I was hitting the ball to the pin most of the time, but everything went left. Not because I was pulling anything, but because I was setting up that way. I am not sure why, however with this information, I knew I would be ready for the next round from the blues.

The reason I can move back to the blues at Osprey Links is because it is still in a good playing distance for me. If the back nine at my home course was closer to 3500 yards, I would rarely move back. It would not be realistic for me to play that long, especially on a tight course. So, a bit of advice for you grateful golfers, when selecting a tee to play ensure that you have the game or else it will be a long day. This video should be helpful:

As amateurs, we should never fear moving tee boxes. In my case, I can easily play all the tee boxes at Osprey Links. The blue tees at 6400 yards fits perfectly to my game and as such I can move forward or back depending on my mood. Moving tees never scares me, but I am cognizant of playing a distance that is reasonable and fun. Not just for me, but for the playing partners as well.

Playing from the tips a few days ago was great fun (regardless of my score). I plan on playing it more this year and hopefully it will improve my game enough to lower my handicap.

Do you play different tees? If so, how do you base your decisions.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


8 thoughts on “Stepping Back to the Tips in Golf

  1. Jim, at my home course I’ll usually play the blues. At 6,501 they are a perfect test. The whites are considerably easier at 6,001. Our gold tees are the tips and are at 6,885 which is at the outside edge of my comfort zone. The weather and particularly the wind determine where I play from and the first three holes is how I judge the day. Even from the blues, we open with three par-4s at 424, 428, and 453 which are really meaty. Saturday, the first two were playing into the wind. I hit driver and 3wd on each of the first three holes. The week before while playing from the whites, I hit PW, 9-iron, and 3-iron in. Huge difference.

    You are right, when you play from the back, it puts an extra challenge on your game. For me under normal conditions, my long iron game gets a good workout.




    • Brian

      You course sounds fun. 6500 yards is in my wheel house as well. 6800 yards is a challenge depending on the course conditions for sure. Regardless, they are all fun to play and we know how to manage our expectations when we do. I love the different options at any course.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin

      It is a very tough shot when the wind is blowing from left to right (which it normally is). From that distance (200 yards) I hit a 4 hybrid which gets me to the center of the green. My aim point can range from the center of the green (no wind) to middle of the sand trap on the left (lots of wind). It really is a fun shot.

      Cheers Jim


  2. In general, the USGA has a point and we should play from the tee that best suits our abilities. Driving distance isn’t the only factor though, just the easiest one to express to the general public/recreational golfer. For those of us who take it a little more seriously, it’s more of a choice between whether we want to score our best or enjoy a different challenge to gain experience.

    One reason for us not to pay attention to that idea is that playing from different tee’s on a course you play often is a great way to broaden your skill base. And not just the longer tee’s but the shorter ones as well. You get to use different clubs than normal. You have to really think about how you are managing the changes the longer or shorter tee made to each hole. And you end up with a better overall picture of your game and how to play your best in the process. Most rounds I play from the men’s tee box, but I’ve played from the tips to the seniors depending on my mode or maybe who I join and that includes the women’s tee box too when I’ve partnered with some in the past.

    But none of that, not the reasoning, and not the USGA plea will stop some recreational golfers from heading the tips to see how hard they can swing. That’s what brings them out. I know. I’ve been there too.


    • Kevin

      You have some good points about mixing up the tees at our home courses. The USGA offers a guideline for picking a tee, IMO, because many novice players think they are stuck playing tees they cannot handle. A few years ago the governing bodies tried to remove the ladies, mens and championship names for the tees and based the colour by distance and skill. It was met with moderate success and I think that is the way to go. Experience players like ourselves can play any tee and not be fussed because we know what to expect. It is about managing expectations.

      Cheers Jim


  3. I’ve been questioning this lately – which tees to play from.
    I usually look to play around 6200 yards for par 72, but course handicaps (being lower) are starting to intimidate me, so thinking I may move back to allow me some more strokes (…don’t know if that logic makes sense since it should make the course more difficult ;P ).
    Also depends on who I’m playing with – if my Dad who hits shorter, I’ll play up no problem…but then I feel a little guilty about hitting long drives from those same tees.
    Thanks for the encouragement on trying different options out there – it’s about fun and improving, right? And improvement comes from challenges.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing the journey!


    • Roger,

      Thanks for the kind words. Golf really is about challenging ourselves and having fun. By changing tees, it allows us to keep it fresh all the time. A quick suggestion when playing with your Dad, club down a bit off the tee and work on your game using long irons and hybrids off the tee. You will be closer to together and your game will benefit from the extra practice. Have a great day.

      Cheers Jim


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