The 65% Solution

December 4, 2010

The 65% Solution was developed at Province Lake Golf Club, the course that my wife and I owned for ten years. We based it on our experience at other courses we played and observations of players at our course. The forward tees at Province Lake play at 4,169 yards. Golf Digest Women rates Province Lake as No. 25 on their list of America’s Top 50 Courses for Women and No. 1 in New England.

The 65% Solution

There is a simple method for determining the total length of the course that players with driver swing speeds of 60MPH or less should be playing: Multiply the yardage of the course that most men would play by 65 percent. For instance, if that yardage is 6,300 yards, then the 60MPH swinger should play a course of approximately 4,095 yards (6,300 x .65 = 4,095).

The 65% Solution is based on the fact that the men, on average, hit their tee shots 207 yards. The “average” woman hits her tee shots 135 yards. 135 divided by 207 equals 65 percent. This methodology should also be applied to individual holes. The chart below offers examples:

*Note: If a hole plays significantly up hill, it is better to use 60 percent.

You’ll find that carrying a small calculator makes calculating the 65 percent much easier. It is also helpful to carry a laser measuring device. It is much easier to use one of these devices to locate your own teeing ground than having to count the yardage as you step it off.

You may find that a slightly different percentage works better for you. The basic principal is that players with slower swing speeds should play a course that allows them to reach most, if not all, of the greens in regulation with well struck shots. As a result, if you find that the 65% Solution results in a course on which you are unable to reach the greens in regulation, make an adjustment to a lower percentage.

–Arthur Little

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  • Dan G, PGA says:

    Bravo! Just found this sight. It is awesome and echos so much of what I’ve been talking about among my peers in the PGA and the golf industry for some time now. I love the honesty and reality. In my experience there are very few golf courses ever designed with women in mind yet now everyone is supposed to focus on growing women’s golf. Courses should start at about 3,500 yards and offer three sets of tees – maybe 3,900 and 4,500 yards. The average forward tee in SW Florida is over 5,000 yards! And covered in palmetto bushes, sand everywhere and water everywhere. This market segment as so sadly been ignored for far too long. Hang in there ladies! I’m working on it in SW Florida!

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  • JaimeC says:

    I believe that all tee boxes should be handicap related, not gender related. I play in a travel league with 89 men and 2 women. We, women, drive 185-230 yards with handicap of 14 and 18. We play the red tees because they are the “womens” tees. We have men with handicaps as high as 32 and should play the “forward” (red) tees based on handicap (or by your calculation, swing speed). This would improve pace of play even more. How do we fix this?

    Also I prefer to play one or two tee boxes back due to the landing area being more favorable to my distance. People do not realize that a course is designed with a squeeze in the fairway lined with trouble. Generally the landing area is wider behind or in front of that squeeze where you want to be and you should adjust your play to the correct distance.

  • admin says:

    You are right on both counts…..
    As you note, golfers should play a set of tees based on their swing speed (even better indicator than handicap) not their gender or age.
    Their driver swing speed determines the average length of their drives. For instance, a 75mph swing speed will have an average drive of
    165 yards and 95mph an average drive of 215…think 25 yards increase for every 10 mph increase in swing speed.
    As a “rule of thumb,” golfers should play a course that is 28-30 times their average drive to be able to reach the great majority of greens
    in regulation.
    If you could ever get your group to a course that would measure all the players swing speeds and then get them to play the “right” set of tees,
    I bet two things would happen:
    -most players would enjoy themselves more
    -speed of play would increase markedly.

    On your second point, architects put the “squeeze” in the design of a hole to make players think about how much risk they want to take. This adds
    to the strategy of the hole and makes golfers think whether they want to challenge the risk by trying to hit past it. Playing a set of tees that
    puts your normal tee shot right in the risk area is not what the architect intended. In your case, feel free to move back.
    Arthur Little

  • Gemma Gem says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for publishing such a practical approach to golf for everyone; men, women, juniors, seniors, etc!

    I work from home, so the Golf Channel plays in the background all day, and I can’t even count how many times the discussion of how to grow the game and improve pace of play comes up! What would it take to get these ideas integrated throughout the industry?

    I found this website when looking for average drive distance for amateur women. Being relatively new to golf, taking my first lesson October 2013, I was curious where my distance driving related to averages. After reading this information, my husband and I used the 65% solution on the last five holes at a course that had very short distance from his tees to mine, and I proceeded to par EVERY HOLE with two birdie opportunities!

    Being able to reach the green in regulation gave me the boost I needed to realize that the compliments toward my newfound (and hard-earned) skills at golf are more than just my husband and golf coach being encouraging – the courses were fooling me with a consistent string of double-bogeys or worse!

    When the golf industry really wants to boost participation, get the course design set up to accommodate those with slower swing speeds and start raking in the dough! My husband is playing much more because I am, I take a weekly walk-on lesson, all the gear, clothing, new friends enjoying clubhouse food/drink. And just think of all the highly-skilled golfers out on the course that don’t have to wait for people like me any more!!

    I’m printing out everything I can and getting it to the courses I frequent here in Phoenix, AZ, maybe get some fliers planted at TPC coming up – taped to the inside of the bathroom stalls?! 😉

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