Why You Should Hit from the Tips (Even if You’re Not that Good)
I’ve always said I wouldn’t step back to the blue tees until I could shoot mid 80s on a regular basis from the whites.
Whether that’s a good thought process or not is up for debate, but I figured if I could get confident playing a shorter course it would be much easier to make the transition to the longer tees.
Today I had the pleasure of teeing it up with my buddy Dan Mclaughlin of The Dan Plan fame out at Heron Lakes in Portland, Oregon.
For those of you who don’t know, Dan quit his job a few years back to test out a hypothesis that with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, you can become an expert anything. So having never touched a golf club, he picked up golf full time and is currently sitting somewhere between a 5 and 6 handicap.
As far as muni courses go, Heron Lakes is certainly the best complex in Portland and among the best in the state.
It has two regulation length courses, the Great Blue and the Greenback, as well as plenty of space to practice.
The last three times I’ve played the Blue course I’ve scored right around 100 – a full 10 strokes worse than an average round for me.
Today we started out a beautiful mid-60s day on the Greenback following an agonizingly slow foursome.
However, after my disasterous round Friday everything had seemed to turn around. I had a solid practice session and was putting myself in a really good situation to make pars.
I finished the front with a 45, which after a season off and an ugly 54 a few days prior – I was ecstatic about.
Things Get Interesting
At the turn Dan met a couple friends of his and we hopped on the backside of the Great Blue course. They’d recently aerated and the course was empty. At this point we were both willing to deal with some sandy greens in order to speed up the pace of play.
But here’s the thing about the back of the Blue – I couldn’t remember the last time I shot sub 50. I often was at bogey golf on the front, but come the back I collapsed – all kinds of mental issues to work through.
To make things worse, they’ve been building back tee boxes to lengthen the course from the tips to just over 7,000 yards, and Dan and his friend (who looked to me like a scratch golfer) thought that we might as well test them out.
At this point I’m just hoping I can make doubles and not embarrass myself.
On the 17th tee, as we walked 80 yards past the blues to the non-existent black tee boxes I said “You guys are killing me here!”
Thats when Dan mentioned something that stuck out.
He told me “If something is not working you need to mix it up a little and just have fun with it. If you’re shooting poorly from the whites, try something else and see what happens.”
This is good advice no matter what context you take it in.
Sometimes you just need to play from the tips. At the same time you could just as easily say you should play from the ladies tees from time to time in order to get some new perspective.
The Best Way to Improve
It seems like the rounds that I play the best usually tend to be when I’m playing with people better than me, or are forced to play tees that are beyond my comfort zone.
It’s great playing with my friends who are at about the same level as me, but as often as possible I love playing with people that absolutely kick my ass on the course, because I know how much I can learn from them.
The bottom line however is, if something isn’t working, the most important thing you can do in golf is try something else – even if it just shakes it up for a round before you head back to what’s more familiar. I have s strong suspicion that when I head back to the white tees I’m going to be in for a nice surprise when I feel like I’m driving it 80% of the way down the fairway.
I ended the back with a 47. Not spectacular by any means, but I parred a 400+ yard par 4 that I usually triple and were it not for a few shots that barely found the water, I’d be sitting at solid bogey golf which is my goal early in the season.