Think Swing Speed
Time for a Different Look at How Golfers Are Categorized
ARTHUR D. LITTLE By
we all know the golf industry is in a slump.
No question that some of the
downturn has been caused by
the state of the overall economy.
a good deal of the pain, though,
I believe is the direct result of the
industry’s lack of responsiveness
to customer needs and desires.
for years we have categorized golfers as professionals,
men, women, seniors and
juniors. the tee colors have
been black, blue, white, green
or gold and red and the industry
has wanted to “slot” players
on to those tees based primarily on gender and age. More
recently, there has been a move
to indicate which set of tees a
player should select based on
handicap. that is at least a step
in the right direction, but it does
not really go far enough.
Many courses make the bold
claim that their course is for
has done exactly this with his
new course, old Macdonald
at bandon golf resort. the
sets of tees there are at 4,258,
4,985, 5,658, 6,320 and 6,944
yards. they are positioned so
that players with very different swing speeds can all reach
greens in regulation when they
hit well-struck shots.
It is logical then to ask,
“does this mean all courses
data that we have collected
shows that for a very high per-
centage of golfers, the average
drive will be approximately twice
the length of the average 9-iron.
golfers are much more likely to
accurately know how far they
hit their 9-iron. the chart below
gives a good indication of how
long a course players with dif-
ferent swing speeds should be
playing. Courses that care about
how do you measure up?
length of course
"Data that we have
that for a very
of golfers, the
average drive will be
the length of the
the club and ball are indifferent
to the person using them. that’s
why a five-foot-tall Lpga player
can hit 270-yard drives and
some 20-something six-foot-tall men can only muster 195.
the conclusion can only be
that courses should be built so
that there are sets of tees for
players with swing speeds of 65
to 105+ miles per hour. In yardage, this translates to 4,200
to 7,400 yards. Mike Keiser
should have devices to measure
swing speeds at the first tee?"
fortunately, the answer is no as
this would be both expensive
and impractical. Should courses
ask players how far their average drive travels? No, because
the reality is that most players
either don’t know or will tell
you a number based on their
the trick is to ask them how
far they hit their average 9-iron.
speed of play should pay close
why make such a big fuss
about this and does it matter?
there are several compelling
reasons. they have to do with
both the health of the golf industry and the satisfaction of its
customers which are, of course,
• The golf industry needs play-
ers. By getting the tees positioned
correctly, the sport will be less
intimidating and more fun. It will
attract and, equally importantly,
retain more women, juniors and
aging players of both genders.
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