Nick Faldo suggests a ban on golf tees to reduce driver distance

Nit Faldo hits golf ball

Nick Faldo on the course.

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The first wooden tee was patented in 1899 by Boston dentist Dr. George Grant, according to the USGA, and the wooden tee was popularized after the Reddy Tee was invented in the 1920s. Before then, golfers used makeshift “tees” out of wet sand. By elevating the golf ball above ground level, a tee allows golfers to raise launch, lower spin, and hit it farther than if the ball was sitting on the turf.

Due to modern equipment and the increase of distance off the tee among professionals, former world No. 1 golfer Sir Nick Faldo suggests a ban on wooden tees, or “pegs,” as he calls them.

Speaking with Geoff Shackelford on a recent podcast, Faldo explained that, due to the large and forgiving driver faces of today, there are more great drivers than there are poor drivers.

“Back in persimmon days, and balata ball, there were only a handful of really great drivers,” Faldo said. “Obviously, Greg (Norman) was great, and Jack (Nicklaus). Obviously (Lee) Trevino was great for his way, (Tom) Watson, Seve (Ballesteros) was a great driver; I know it went sideways at times… but you can name them. It was only a dozen max. Now there’s only a dozen poor drivers. There’s only a few… I hate to think of the percentage who can hit it 300 through the air.”

In order to place greater importance on the quality of strike, Faldo suggests reducing the size of driver faces.

“If we brought the size of the face down so there were some serious mis hits… so the sweet spot for the pro is a real sweet spot, not a sweet face; that’s what it is now,” Faldo said. “It’s the whole thing!”

To get golfers away from the large driver heads, Faldo went a step further, suggesting the ban of wooden tees.

“The other simpler way is saying… if we ban tee pegs,” Faldo said. “If they went and played a tournament with no tee pegs, right? Well, the guys would have to alter their driver. You would be allowed to place it on the grass.”

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Without the use of tees, Faldo says the 3-wood would become the optimal club to use from a teeing ground — well, not a “teeing” ground anymore, but you get what I mean.

“Now, they won’t be using [drivers that are] 6-degrees,” Faldo said. “They’d say, ‘OK, I need 9 (degrees), I need 10, I need one that’s going to get it airborne a bit and get a bit of give in the face.’ That would seriously change it. Sure they could hit a 3-wood… that actually would be your optimum…I’ve just seen Rory’s numbers, still 285 yards through the air [with a 3-wood]… but it’d be a real tough hit to get a driver off the deck.”

What do you think about Faldo’s solution?

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Andrew Tursky

Golf.com Editor

Andrew Tursky is the Senior Equipment Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com.