Playing From the Forward Tees 

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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I just finished playing in our PGA Section first “Major” of the year and, being 65, got to play a more forward set of tees for the event. After receiving the normal ribbing about playing the ‘US Junior tees’, the tees for the ‘Ladies day beginner division’ and my favorite, ‘why not just start from the edge of the green’.

Playing a course that is shorter does not mean that it is easier I am an OK player, not a great one, just really an OK player This means that I, like most of you, am below average with my short game and short irons When we move up we eliminate the mid to long game and expose the dreaded short game.

I looked at one hole that I would normally have hit a driver and then a 6 iron from the back tee, from the forward tees I had to hit a utility wood from the tee and then a second of a 5 iron I did keep the utility out of the water I thought I could reach.

My next hole was an unreachable par 5 that I would normally play with a driver, a layup with a fairway club and then a short third to the middle of the green Now from the forward position it was a driver and a 3 wood that could reach the putting surface, but this is not what I am comfortable with so my 3 wood now reaches the first cross bunker and I have a 65 yard bunker shot The only method to be used in this situation is a fat chunk into the green side bunker, and this will always result in a plugged lie that we can now blast over the green and then chip on and miss the putt Easy bogey buddy from the short tee.

My PGA brethren would never ask for a friendly wager when we played and when I got to the first set of tees from that length I could use my driver from most tees. But now that I am more forward, they seem to line up to accept my donations to their gas fund.

Don’t judge the player who you see playing from the forward tees, most likely they are not the type of person who will indulge in the Ironman contest, or choose to climb Everest with short notice This is the player who has absolutely no fear taking a 3 wood from a tight lie into a slice cross wind with water on the right This player fears not the downhill putt that strikes fear into the heart of lesser players.

Yes, we are the players who gleefully allow the 2 percent body fat players, who look like some marble chiseled statue, to march back and blast drivers into orbit and we limp up to the forward tees, miss-hit the 3 wood 20 yards past them and now have the 70 yard tight lie to the pin, cut behind a bunker and a downhill green God, I do love Golf! I will be putting this one well left of the bunker and then hopefully, a couple putts more and I have my cherished par, oh yeah, nice birdie Adonis.

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email