Tees have been an instrumental part of golf for a long, long time.
Players of all levels, whether having fun at the local course to PGA Tour pros competing in the final round of a major championship, tee up their ball before hitting their drive to start each hole.
Nick Faldo wants to change that.
The three-time Masters champion thinks that banning tees from the game would not only help with golf’s distance problem, but also would make the game that much harder.
"If they banned tee pegs, if they went and played a tournament with no tee pegs, the guys would have to go out and alter their drivers,” Faldo said on Geoff Shackelford’s podcast, via Golf Digest. “They'd say, 'Alright, you're allowed to place it on the grass.' You wouldn't be using [a driver that's] six degrees. You'd need to use one that can get airborne a bit. And that would seriously change it.
"Sure, they could hit 3-wood. And that would be their optimum. They could hit 3-wood off the ground, Rory would still hit it 285 yards in the air. But it'd be a tough hit to hit a driver off the deck.
"I think that's what we have to get out there. It's about the quality of the strike. And that would bring in a little more inconsistency."
Faldo also suggested shrinking the size of the driver’s face.
"If you brought back the size of the face down, so there would be some serious mis-hits ... that way, the sweet spot for the pro would be a real sweet spot, not a sweet face,” Faldo said, via Golf Digest. “That's what it is now, it's the whole thing."
Golf’s distance problem
The USGA and R&A released a report in February that found both hitting distances and golf course lengths have been increasing throughout the game across the world, something that they say “is detrimental to the game’s long-term future.”
“This report clearly shows a consistent increase in hitting distance and golf course lengths over the last 100-plus years,” USGA CEO Mike Davis said in a statement. “These increases have had a profound impact on costs to build, modify and operate golf courses and they have impacted golfers at all levels.
“We believe this problem will continue unless this cycle is brought to an end. With collaboration from the entire golf community, we have an opportunity to stem this tide and help ensure golf remains sustainable and enjoyable for generations to come.”
Neither the USGA nor the R&A provided any solutions to the problem, but are currently researching potential options. Possible rule changes could include restricting certain types of clubs or balls.
Would banning tees actually work?
It’s not an awful idea, as the move would certainly force golfers to adapt and prohibit them from hitting longer drives.
If the goal is to solve golf’s distance problem, however, this probably isn’t the solution.
Like Faldo himself said, players would need a new type of driver that could get the ball up in the air more if they aren’t using a tee. It wouldn’t take long for companies to figure out a driver that would work well under those circumstances.
To truly make a difference, restricting types of clubs or balls that could be used would likely make a much larger and lasting impact.
Though if Faldo got his way, it could force the average golfer to simply use their 5-iron off the tee every time. If there was ever a surefire way to eliminate a slice from your game and keep your drive out of the woods, it’s that.
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