Golf Course Architecture - Issue 75, January 2024

ARTHUR LITTLE INSIGHT S even years have passed since I wrote an article for the January 2016 issue of Golf Course Architecture about the design implications of providing proportional tee yardages to fit golfers with differing swing speeds. The premise is that proportionally positioned tees allow golfers across the swing speed spectrum to use the same or very similar clubs for their approach shots. The concept is supported by data from testing done by Gene Parente at Golf Laboratories. The testing data shows a considerable difference in the ball flight characteristics of golfers with driver swing speeds below 80mph. Their ball flights reach their peak height further from the landing spot; descend at a significantly shallower angle; have significantly less backspin upon landing; and have a considerably higher percentage of roll than shots from golfers with higher swing speeds. This is illustrated in the chart (right), which shows the difference between the seven-iron ball flight of the average woman with a driver swing speed of 65mph and the seven-iron ball flight of the average man with a driver swing speed of 95mph. With the slower swing, the total distance from roll is 12 per cent, compared to three per cent with the faster swing, caused by the combination of shallower landing angle and less backspin. I believe these factors should significantly impact golf course design. Forced carries, whether over greenside bunkers, water hazards (both streams and lakes) or any obstacle that crosses a hole, make the Arthur Little reports on his research into how courses should be designed to enable golfers with slow swings to enjoy the game. Design for all Swing speed 65mph 95mph Carry yards 93 152 Total yards 106 156 Peak height yards 14 34 Peak height as % of carry 59% 67% Descent angle 37 50 A sport of two halves Data by Gene Parente of Golf Laboratories, a leader in independent testing for the golf industry, shows the differences between the average female and male golfer when hitting a seven-iron shot 37