You've seen the commercials: "While we're young!" shouts Annika. Named appropriately after the famous line uttered by Rodney Dangerfield's character in Caddyshack, "While We're Young" was conceived to combat the four fundamental causes of slow play: player behavior, course design, course setup and player/group management.
It's tough for course designers, it's got to be. Designers want to create a legacy, a course that will receive accolades from peers and players. Arguable though, is the actual metrics that should be used when determining which courses get those "Top Course" ratings we always read in the golf magazines. But if they did, would we play them? Would our ego's let us?
I think the USGA has the right idea, attacking all phases of the problem. Because it isn't just one thing. We let our ego's get in the way of reality and instead of playing the "white" tees, we move back with our buddies out of pride. This will be the round it all comes together. Course designers can come to grips with the fact that not every golfer is Tiger Woods and therefore design courses that favor the higher handicap golfers. Course management can do a better job of spacing tee times and employ rangers to keep the pace of play up.
But another thing I would love to see courses do is ditch the RED/WHITE/BLUE tee markers the adorn almost every golf course in America. Get rid of them. They do nothing but tease us by making us ashamed to walk to the white tees even though we've never broke 100 before. They draw our gaze as we grab the driver out of the bag and make us want to go play way back there even though we know we can't carry that bunker on the right from that tee box. But we try and fail anyway and so begins another day of golf.
What I would like to see is more courses do what Tobacco Road Golf Club, in the Sandhills of NC does: Their tee boxes have names like "The Ripper" and "The Plow" and the mark them with objects that have no intrinsic embarrassment attached to them. But they are given handicap ratings and the starter is quick to point out which one they recommend you play from based on your handicap.
Simple idea: Don't color code the tee boxes, HANDICAP code them. And WE as golfers should embrace those ratings. Too often we look at the distance of a course and decide where to play. Ok, at Tobacco Road, the "Blue" tees are only 6500 yards. Short, right? For tips I mean. For 18 holes, that's an average of 361 per hole. Not bad. But look closer. There are 4 Par 3 holes that routinely play about 100 yards each. That means you really have 6100 yard over 14 remaining hole, which is an average of 435 YARDS. Now we're talking. How many times will you make par playing a 435 yard Par 4? Not often. And if you look a the course rating, you see it's an eye-popping 150. The average course is about 113. Tobacco Road has been ranked as one of the top 10 hardest courses in the US. And you're going to step up to the back tees because they're only 6500 yards. Good luck breaking 120!
To me, having the tee markers coded by handicap rather than colors would simplify our selection of where to play. If I'm a 20+ handicap, I have no reason to play from the tips of any course other than a putt-putt course.
The Tee It Forward program from the Play Golf America organization is trying to accomplish the same thing. (http://www.playgolfamerica.com/index.cfm?action=teeitforward). TEE IT FORWARD encourages all golfers to play the course at a length that is aligned with their average driving distance. Golfers can speed up play by utilizing tees that provide the greatest playability and enjoyment.
So this year, do us all ( including yourself) a favor and play the right tee box for your skill level, and that's likely to be at least one shorter than you play today.