Choosing The Proper Golf Course Distance To Match Your Game


In the past, I talked about selecting the right distance to play using the course and slope ratings. They are important factors to choosing which tees to play as well as the distance of the golf course. After some reading, I think that distance is often overlooked when selecting a course to play. At my home course of Osprey Links, I generally play the whites at 6000 yards and play the tips at 6400 yards from time to time. I find that the extra 400 yards doe not really affect my game except I am hitting a longer iron into the green. So, I would say that my distance for comfortably playing a golf course ranges from 6000 to 6500 yards.

As I sent out a question on Twitter (below), I was hoping to receive some advice on what distances other players like to play. I was not sure what to expect, but I received a response from Keith. He provided a table that will provide a good foundation for selecting the right course for your game:

Using the table, the course distance at Osprey Links, from the whites, is in the long column. But, that does not really fit my game. I average about 240 – 250 yards off the tee, but the distances for 275 yards off the tee are more akin to how I feel my course distances should play out. Of course, this is where course and slope ratings will play a factor. Regardless, the table does help put things into perspective for players who do not have an idea which golf course distance would fit their game. That, of course, will drive what tees to play. Playing the right tees would definitely enhance your enjoyment on the links.

What is your favourite distance to play?

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

8 thoughts on “Choosing The Proper Golf Course Distance To Match Your Game

  1. A great topic Jim especially as playing the proper tees has a huge impact on pace of play. Too many male golfers let their egos get the best of them and would enjoy the game more if they played one deck forward.

    Tee It Forward is an initiative of both the USGA and PGA of Canada and I strongly support it.

    From a personal side, as a 67 year old with a knee issue, I am comfortable playing my modern clubs at 5800-6200 yards depending on the slope rating of the golf course. My drives are typically 220-225 and my handicap index is 11. At my home course which has a slope rating of 120, I typically play the Blues at 6000 yards. If I play Heron Point (Slope 138) at the same yardage (Whites) , I am on my absolute limit of playability.

    Lower handicap golfers like you can get away with being back a little further but still might enjoy the game more if you moved up a deck. For higher handicap players, playing too far back only results in frustration and slow play. The Tee it Forward initiative has had mixed results because guys ego gets in the way. Basically if you are hitting woods or hybrids into most par 4’s, you are on the wrong deck.

    Three years ago my home course, Cambridge Golf Club, which hosts the Ontario PGA playability test annually had a redesign of holes 17 and 18 and had to be remeasured and sloped. We have four tee decks and prior to the redesign, the back deck was Blue deck. The decision was made to make the back tee Black at 6300 yards. The Blues became just under 6000, formerly the Whites. The Whites now come in at just over 5500. The impact of this change had an immediate impact on improving pace of play.

    Playing from the right yardage certainly makes the game more enjoyable and let’s you use all your clubs in the bag. The tougher the green complexes, the more important it becomes, especially for the average golfer.

    As I frequently play with my hickory clubs, 5200 to 5400 is better. Looking forward to joining you at Osprey Links on August 13. I have some great toys for you to play with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lorne,

      I have written about Tee It Forward in previous articles. It is a great initiative. I agree that ego does put people in the wrong state of mind when playing specific tees. I would like them to change the colours to break the stigma of playing forward when required.

      I look forward to playing on August 13. Right now, my schedule is free. I will be looking forward to trying out your new toys!

      Cheers Jim


  2. Jim, great read here and got me thinking. The most enjoyable golf experiences over the last few years have been on courses where I can attack the par-3s with a short iron and don’t have too many par-4s over 400 yards. When a course’s length is in its par-5s, that usually doesn’t bother me because I can usually get to within 100 yards of a green for my 3rd shot.

    I play my home course at 6,500 yards, but am often hitting long irons or fairway metals into the par-3s. Breaking 80 is a hard fought battle and often leaves me mentally exhausted. Maybe I should move up a set to 6,000?



    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      I would give moving up a try. It will not hurt to play up a set of tees; if nothing else it will allow you to have fun and to have a different experience on your home track. A change is as good as a rest….right? On my home course, there is a blended distance what allows for 6200 yards as a distance. This blended approach might be worth a try if you find 6000 yards just a bit too short. Let us know what you decide.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The index is great, but I’m not sure I totally agree that distance is the deciding factor as much as the course itself is. In this area I know of a 4900 yard course that will eat you up because of it’s treacherous greens and tight fairways and I know of at least one course where 7000 yards doesn’t seem to hurt as much as you might think. It’s wide open, the greens are receptive, slower but roll true, and many of the tee shots are downhill and most of the uphill ones are on par 5’s. So you may not have as easy a chance to make one up, but you still don’t have much trouble making par on them when you’re playing well.

    That said, my sweet spot I’d say is 6000 yards though I don’t hit it as far as the chart suggests either. Not right now anyway. Maybe with a new driver if I can ever break free to finally get a fitting done. I’ve been trying for weeks now but something always seems to come up.

    We got rained on today. Hard. I have everything from my bag laying out to dry. Somehow water got in a couple compartments. Guess I didn’t close them up good. Anyway, it was 6200 yards. With the rain squalls effecting most of the back nine, the 81 I shot there wasn’t that bad I think. But it’s another course that’s mostly wide open and the greens there are very receptive. All my approach shots but one stuck and that one wouldn’t have stuck to glue. It came out low and hot so finding it behind the green and still playable was a needed break. I certainly didn’t think that the extra 200 yards made any difference at all to my game today and not one of my drives reached 275 or even close.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin,

      We are in the same boat. We have worked on all aspects of our game go play above the yardages suggested. This is just a guide anyway and I feel that course and slope rating will play a factor in deciding the yardage distances of a new course I play. I want an challenge and yet still have fun. Have fun drying out. 😉

      Cheers Jim


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