By Mark Button
The late, great Eldridge Miles always had this golf tip at
the ready. Whenever the longtime Dallas-Fort Worth teaching pro –
affectionately known as “Big E” – heard someone lament their lack of distance
off the tee, he piped up.
“I have a tip that will instantly get you about 20 more
yards with your driver,” Big E would say. “You don’t even have to change a
thing about your swing, and this tip never, ever fails.”
The golfer’s eyes would light up. I saw it happen many
times. The golfer would lean in close, desperate for this transformative piece
of golf wisdom.
“I’ll give you this tip,” Big E continued, “but you have to
promise to use it the next time you play. Deal?”
“Yes, of course,” the golfer would reply. “I’ll do it! I’ll
do it! What is the tip?”
“Scoot up a set of tees,” Big E said.
Nine times out of 10, the golfer would laugh. “Good one, Big
The irony of it all is that Big E wasn’t joking. Yes, he
knew the bit was humorous. He got a kick out of it every time, but he also knew
the tip would work. Big E knew most golfers he taught or talked to could
improve their scores, have more fun, and – best of all – play faster if they moved
up at least one set of tees up from where they typically played.
Slow play is the worst thing about golf. There, I said it.
Yes, the game is expensive, and that’s an issue, too. But since you’re reading
this magazine, I’m going to assume you’re as passionate about golf as we are
here at the TGA, and you’re going to continue to pay to play.
The game should be more inclusive, and there are other
problems to be sure. But slow play – the investment in time required to play 18
holes – is the biggest one, especially for those of us who play most of our
rounds on public courses.
What can be done about it? Big E, what do you think?
“Scoot up a set of tees.”
A few years ago, the USGA and R&A ran a series of Public
Service Announcements called “Tee It Forward.” The idea was to encourage
golfers to take Big E’s advice. The program’s guidelines for selecting which
tees to play were tied to a player’s driver distance. (See graphic.) Those who
hit driver around 250 yards should play the tees that make the overall yardage
of the course between 6,200-6,400 yards.
I suspect most in that 250-yard range for driver distance
are not playing the correct tees. There’s almost nothing more frustrating than
playing golf with someone – or in the group behind someone – who is playing the
wrong tees. I recently played a round at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston.
The 13th hole is a short par 4. It was playing about 280 yards to the front
edge of the green.
While my group finished up our business on the 12th green,
we watched two of the players in the group ahead of us lay up into the 13th fairway
with hybrid clubs. Smart plays. The other two golfers – young men in their 20s
or 30s – waited for the green to clear. My group putted out on 12 and waited
with them. Hands on hips with a disapproving stare? You bet.
Finally, the 13th green cleared. These “big hitters” were
ready to drive the green. You know what happened, right?
The first one took a mighty lash … and sliced his ball 40
yards into the trees. The other one swung even harder. He topped it. The ball
wormed about 100 yards from where he stood. It took them 20 minutes to play the
Throughout the year in this space, we’re going to discuss
the topic of “Golf Etiquette,” something those two young golfers sorely lacked.
We’ll give opinions, as well as advice on how to appropriately carry yourself
on the golf course. From knowing when to stop talking or stand still and how to
fix ball marks on greens and fill divots in fairways to courteous tips for cell
phone usage and how and when to help your fellow players, we’ll dive into it
But we start here with Tee It Forward. You – yes, you! – can
help improve golf’s biggest problem. You’ll play faster and better when you
move up a set of tees. In fact, Arccos Golf recently completed a study based on
data acquired from thousands of rounds of golf. The study concluded that
regardless of skill level, all players on average scored two
shots lower when they played in 3-3.5 hours compared to taking 4.5-5 hours.
Imagine that! Play faster, and you’ll play better. Big E was
So how about it, do you want to shoot lower scores? Do you
want to help improve the scourge of slow play? Do you want to respect others
and have good etiquette?
All you have to do is use Big E’s tip. It never, ever fails.