PGA of America

Setting Up Golf Courses For Success Guidebook

Assess your facility …

If you answer, “yes” to three or more of these questions, your facility is a candidate for an additional set of formal tees to accommodate new players and/or keep experienced players in the game.

Yes No Total yardage from the most forward set of tees is more than 5,000 yards (4,572 m).
Yes No More than 50 percent of female handicap indexes are over 25.
Yes No Forward tees are positioned so that tee shots require more than 50 yards (45.72 m) of carry over hazards or players must hit a lay-up tee shot to avoid hitting into a hazard from the tee.
Yes No Tee shots land where players must hit a lay-up second shot because of the cross hazard location and/or width.
Yes No Forward tees are at the bottom slopes and forward tee players’ tee shots hit into an opposing slope.

The way many golf courses have been designed and built is a critical contributing factor in the low percentage of women’s participation in the sport. Most golf courses are, on average, excessively long and place many women at a disadvantage to their male counterparts. This design flaw has been caused by a lack of understanding of women’s swing speed, which directly corresponds to driving distance. The result is that, from a woman’s point of view, they are presented with an inferior, inherently unfair product. Unless this design flaw is addressed and corrected, many women will never be enthusiastic long-term customers, and golf facilities will not capture the full potential of the women’s market. Women are highly intelligent consumers, and will avoid products that are not tailored to their needs.

A critical factor in attracting and retaining women as golfers is having a course that is set up to fit the full spectrum of driving distances and swing speeds, allowing everyone to score well and feel like “real” golfers. The primary course attributes to consider when creating a fair course set up for women and men of all abilities are:

  • the positioning of tees, and
  • the location of cross hazards that create forced carries.

While attracting the full spectrum of women golfers should be every facility’s goal, the concentration in this section is on the woman who hits her average drive 135-140 yards; has a driver swing speed of 65 miles per hour; and has a handicap index of 26.5. Statistically, she is the average woman golfer. (However, she does not necessarily consider herself to be “average” so exercise caution in using that term.) She represents the vast majority of the women’s market.

At the majority of golf courses where the forward tees are positioned at 4,900-5,200 yards or more, women with shorter drives and slower swing speeds cannot reach greens in regulation. At 5,200 yards, we are asking her to play a course that is equivalent to a 7,500 yard course for the average male golfer. This makes the sport intimidating, frustrating and not enjoyable at all. Is it any wonder that women who make up 52 percent of the population are so underrepresented in golf?

The “Setting Up Golf Courses for Success” Guidebook highlights two critical factors to consider in providing a golf course that is enjoyable for women with slower swing speeds. Access the complete Guidebook here.

Access two important excerpts from the Guidebook below:

Generate a Playing Advantage for Slower Swing Speed Players
Addressing Slower Swing Speeds

For additional information, contact Arthur D. Little, the author of “Setting of Golf Courses for Success.” He dedicated his time on a purely voluntary basis, due to his passion for women’s participation in golf. Feel free to contact him with any questions on this topic. Arthur Little, Senior Trustee, Royal Little Family Foundation, arthurdlittle8@mac.com.