Gear & EquipmentJune 1, 2011

TaylorMade's King: Tee it Forward is about your ego

The idea of playing a shorter course continues to garner momentum following last week's endorsement by both the U.S. Golf Association and the PGA of America, but it's greatest challenge might be with golfers' egos, says Mark King, president and CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf.

The notion of average golfers needing to move up a tee box or two to enjoy the game more started with Barney Adams, the chairman of the board at Adams Golf. The idea was formalized last week when the USGA and PGA of America endorsed a "Tee it Forward" program for golf courses nationwide. The program suggests players should better match their average tee shot distance with a maximum total yardage. For example, if a player averages no more than 225 yards off the tee, he or she should play a course no longer than 6,000 yards.

The equipment industry might be caught in the middle here, of course. If average golfers aren't hitting it far enough to play from 6,400-yard tees, it might suggest that they're not benefitting from the same modern technological gains the pros have seen.  On the other hand, if shorter tees are a way to increase enjoyment and grow the game, that certainly has the potential to increase the size of the pool of potential consumers. So should equipment companies be endorsing the idea, too?

It's a tough area to navigate, but King, who suggested in January the ruling bodies need to consider new rules to grow the game, said golfers playing the wrong tees is not an equipment issue at all. When asked what the Tee it Forward idea might have to do with golfers' and their perception of the effect of new equipment technology on their games, King suggested male golfers need a reality check more than anything.

"Playing from the wrong tees has a lot less to do with improvements in equipment performance than it does with certain unwritten rules of golf, one of which is that if you're a man you play from the blue tees," he told Golf Digest. "Another one is that if you're a man, you play a Stiff shaft instead of Regular. Too many golfers make these mistakes even though they'd score better and have a lot more fun if they were honest with themselves and played the tees and equipment that's appropriate to their skill level."

So there's another benefit of an appointment with a good fitter, like one of those in our list of America's 100 Best: Finding the right tees you should be playing.

--Mike Stachura

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