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Why do courses lie about how far their holes are?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I have only golfed at 5 or 6 courses in my few years of playing but the majority of the courses I have played at have exaggerated their hole distances by a ton.  I was quite confused why i was able to consistently hit passed the 200 to go mark on a 515 yard par 5 at my home course.  I played the 450 yard woman's tees one day and hit one up to the 100 to go mark.  Upon using google earth I discovered that the 515 yard par 5 is actually 460 yards and from the woman's tees is 350 yards.  I checked a few more holes and maybe 3 or 4 were even close to the actual distance.  Most were about 30 yards shorter than advertised.

 

In a lot of threads people claim to have driven that magical par 4 that was 300+ despite never hitting that far before in their life.  I feel like these holes are probably also exaggerating the distance a bit. 

 

It's a bit of a wake up call when I usually play my 6600 yard home course and end up playing a course that is actually 6600 yards.

 

Is it prestige or something else that causes a course to do this.

post #2 of 24

The distance is not usually measured in a straight line from the tee box to the hole. It is more measured by how the hole is supposed to be played.

 

With the exception of par 3s, the distances should vary a bit - now if all of these holes are nothing but straight, you have an argument.

post #3 of 24
Also consider that courses move their tee markers day to day , sometimes considerably. Several courses around here have 4 sets of tees, yet many of the holes have 6 tee "boxes"

If it turns out that they are actually wrong I wouldn't read anything more into it. They're just wrong, and that's it.
post #4 of 24

I haven't run across any holes in this area that were enough off to called wrong. Once the give and take for varying tee boxes that Golfingdad mentioned is taken into account the straight holes are pretty much on the money according to my GPS.

 

What some people don't take into account is how many yards even a gradual dogleg can add with the distance measured down the middle.

 

It's especially noticeable when trees have been removed from the inside of the dogleg giving the hole a more straight appearance (and a straight shot toward the green).

 

The OP is right that way too many people make distance claims based on the yardage markers subtracting what the scorecard says the hole is.

 

Simple enough these days to pick up a GPS and know our distances for sure.

 

Another thing that a lot of people totally misjudge is the "carry distances" they claim. There is a 285 yard slightly uphill hole at our course and a lot of people that consider themselves big hitters are surprised the first time they play there that they can't fly the ball on that green. There are several regulars that do it often but it takes a poke to do it.

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

I measured most of the holes every which way I thought you could play them and they still are much shorter than advertised.  What really gets me is the par 5 runs parallel to an adjacent par 4.  The par 4 is 440 yards (which is accurate with google earth).  The tee box of the par 4 is in line with the green on the par 5 and the green of the par 4 is in line with the tee box of the par 5.  Yet the par 5 is listed as 75 yards farther.  If anything the par 4 has a more of a dogleg and should play longer.  I don't understand why you wouldn't just advertise the hole as is.

post #6 of 24

In theory when the local affiliate of the USGA (assuming you live & play in the USA or Mexico) rates a course, the raters measure the hole lengths.  There should never be a large discrepancy between the rating entity's yardage and the actual yardage.  What course (and state) are we talking about?  Have you checked what the state association lists as the yardage?

 

Occasionally I see a course that has a certain total yardage on their scorecard that does not exactly match the total length listed by our state golf association.  The differences typically are minor and often the association yardage will indicate 5,976 yards and the score card 6,023.  Not hard to see why the course might fudge the number in order to get over the 6,000 yard hurdle.

post #7 of 24

Doglegs are usually measured down the center of the fairway to the turn point, then aim to another point or towards the center of the green and so on. So, its usually distance walked down the center of the hole, not to the hole.

 

Also, i hardly find golf holes that off. Also, a ton of golf courses measure from the back of tee boxes, not were the tees are at. Reason is that the tees change. Or they will measure them to a plaque with the distance shown on it. One course i play actually has red, white, and blue stones in the tee box area, were they measured from. Then you can pace off from there were they have the tees set for the day.

 

So the premise that golf courses lie is wrong. Really i have never found a course be off on there golf holes. I've seen the 150 markers be off at most 5 yards in all the courses i played.

 

Also note that GPS is human error as well. What if you have a deep green, and the guy is off 5 yards from the center?

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Alright, the bottom hole goes left to right as pictured.  This is the par 4 that is listed as 440 yards.  When I google earth and measure from the way back of the tee box to the center of the green it says 458 yards.  Since the tee boxes are never on the very back and are usually towards the front I would say this is pretty accurate to 440 yards.  The top hole plays right to left as pictured.  This is a par 5 listed at 515 yards.  When measured from the back of the tee box to the center of the green it is 461 yards.  The path I drew seems to be a good representation of how the hole is measured.  This is over 50 yards off what it says on the score card. 
 

post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

Also consider that courses move their tee markers day to day , sometimes considerably. Several courses around here have 4 sets of tees, yet many of the holes have 6 tee "boxes"

If it turns out that they are actually wrong I wouldn't read anything more into it. They're just wrong, and that's it.


^This.  Tee boxes get moved from time to time but they dont update the signs.

post #10 of 24

Google Earth isn't a perfect measuring tool, it's pretty damn good but not perfect.

 

The only way to tell you exactly how long a golf hole is, is to have it measured by a surveyor, and even that would vary depending on the line the club wanted to use to measure from the tee to the green.  I did a few in the UK a few years ago, good fun driving around on the golf course and trying to survey the greens and fairways while people were playing!  Had to measure a a grid of levels no further than one metre apart over some of the greens, should have sold the plans to some members on the sly!

 

Even a golfing/phone/handheld GPS is only going to be accurate to a couple of yards no matter what the maker says, so right there you could have 5+ yards of difference point to point.  Put some trees in the mix, it gets further out, introduce some elevation change, it gets even further out.  

 

Unless you know exactly how the original measurements were made, i.e. what measurement technique was used, which points were used as references/start end points (at the tee-box/the line down the fairway/the location on the green), whether the measurements were made at ground level and kept that way or reduced to mean sea level or projected onto the local area mapping datum, it would be literally impossible to replicate the distances the club puts on the cards.

post #11 of 24

I've never seen a golf course be off with their listed yardages.  Just for fun, I checked all the holes on my home course and they were all spot on given a +/- 5 yards for using google earth.  Par 5's are always measured with three "shots" and that can sometimes make a big yardage gap if you don't do that. 

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by trackster View Post

Alright, the bottom hole goes left to right as pictured.  This is the par 4 that is listed as 440 yards.  When I google earth and measure from the way back of the tee box to the center of the green it says 458 yards.  Since the tee boxes are never on the very back and are usually towards the front I would say this is pretty accurate to 440 yards.  The top hole plays right to left as pictured.  This is a par 5 listed at 515 yards.  When measured from the back of the tee box to the center of the green it is 461 yards.  The path I drew seems to be a good representation of how the hole is measured.  This is over 50 yards off what it says on the score card. 
 

We are talking about Hillcrest Municipal Golf Course in Jamestown, ND, correct?  I got out my Garmin GPS and "Previewed" the course.  Hole #4 on my Garmin is listed at 450 yards.  That is pretty close to the 440 yards on the score card.  When I go to hole #5 the Garmin shows 469 yards for the par 5, which is very close to your calculation.  You are correct that the course seems to have a faulty measurement.

 

I wonder if there were plans to build an additional tee box on the par 5 (at the 515 yards) and they just never built it?  Or maybe they abandoned the tee box to save on maintenance?  When they re-built our municipal course they were planning to extend the par 3 second hole and the yardage for the "Black" tee was listed on the card at 196 yards.  The problem was the tee was not built right away and so the "Black" tee was set at the back of the "Blue" tee box, which was only 181 yards.  For a while everyone overshot the green.  Not that I ever took advantage of that "insider" knowledge.  ;)

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkuehn1952 View Post

When they re-built our municipal course they were planning to extend the par 3 second hole and the yardage for the "Black" tee was listed on the card at 196 yards.  The problem was the tee was not built right away and so the "Black" tee was set at the back of the "Blue" tee box, which was only 181 yards.  For a while everyone overshot the green.  Not that I ever took advantage of that "insider" knowledge.  ;)

There's a course here that didn't have enough room for all of the holes so some of the holes were just stuck in weird places. One of them was to a peninsula across a lake and it was listed as a par 4 on the card (although in any match anything over a 3 was losing a stroke or two to the leaders). It was only 185 yards from where the tee usually was but for people that didn't want to take the gamble it was listed on the scorecard as 235 yards hitting to a landing area. The little sliver of a green was only about 7 yards across so there was a gamble trying to hit it with water front, back, and on the right side.

 

I couldn't count the times I was playing another hole and watched a tourist get out a scorecard on the tee box and look at it, pull out a driver or 3 wood, and sail it over the green and 30 yards into the lake.

 

They finally did change the scorecard to the distance straight across but left it as a par 4. The problem with making it a true par 3 is that the green is too narrow and sloping away from the tee box. What it ended up being is a hole where there were lots of eagles and LOTS of double bogies. Just not a true golf hole. They are re-doing it now to make it a longer hole at 255 yards and more of a par 4 where the risk of going for it is too high to try it.

post #14 of 24

I've noticed that some courses seem to have the "7000 yard" disease.  One that I've seen even had a couple of tiny, extra far back tee boxes which are never used, just so that the tips could show over 7000 yards on the card.  My home course lists the back tees at 6923.  They could have easily found a way to fudge here and there to add 77 yards and get to 7000 if they had wanted, to, but I've found that the numbers there check out pretty accurately.

post #15 of 24

I would guess that since the yardage is definitely wrong and looking at the picture.  The green complex was not put back all the way where the hole was originally planned to be.  Doesn't seem there would be any room for an additional tee box so that would have to be the case.  You should ask someone in the pro shop next time you're there about that hole.

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColeMc View Post

Google Earth isn't a perfect measuring tool, it's pretty damn good but not perfect.

 

The only way to tell you exactly how long a golf hole is, is to have it measured by a surveyor, and even that would vary depending on the line the club wanted to use to measure from the tee to the green.  I did a few in the UK a few years ago, good fun driving around on the golf course and trying to survey the greens and fairways while people were playing!  Had to measure a a grid of levels no further than one metre apart over some of the greens, should have sold the plans to some members on the sly!

 

Even a golfing/phone/handheld GPS is only going to be accurate to a couple of yards no matter what the maker says, so right there you could have 5+ yards of difference point to point.  Put some trees in the mix, it gets further out, introduce some elevation change, it gets even further out.  

 

Unless you know exactly how the original measurements were made, i.e. what measurement technique was used, which points were used as references/start end points (at the tee-box/the line down the fairway/the location on the green), whether the measurements were made at ground level and kept that way or reduced to mean sea level or projected onto the local area mapping datum, it would be literally impossible to replicate the distances the club puts on the cards.

Yes, but the numbers are really irrelevant here.  All you need is the picture to see that those two holes are not 75 yards difference in length.  Heck, I would say that they aren't 10 yards difference in length.  They look identical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradox View Post

I would guess that since the yardage is definitely wrong and looking at the picture.  The green complex was not put back all the way where the hole was originally planned to be.  Doesn't seem there would be any room for an additional tee box so that would have to be the case.  You should ask someone in the pro shop next time you're there about that hole.

This would be my new guess.  Obviously, my original assumption is wrong here and it's not a case of you simply being mistaken about the daily tee location or confused by a dogleg, however, I highly doubt that any course would intentionally lie about their yardages.  I'd expect it to be something a lot more like Paradox guessed.  Or perhaps, since the time it was last measured one of the holes was remodeled.

 

Because the holes are parallel and it's obvious to the naked eye that something is wrong, I would bet that the people in the pro shop have been asked about this several times.  Have you talked to them about it?  They probably have the answer.

post #17 of 24

I don't see big variances at the courses I play and it's always due to the markers being moved. That's why I check with a GPS, some forward marker placements bring water into play on a few holes. The back tees get within a few yards of the whites when the back box needs time to recover. Every course I play has yardage markers on the boxes and I've stood right on them with a gps and they're always within a yard or two, same with the sprinkler markers. It's looks like there are some issues with the OP's example but I doubt it's meant to deceive people. Somebody made a mistake there. My experience is most courses encourage people to play from shorter distances not longer. A few even have signs making not so subtle suggestions that handicap dictates where you should play from. One place won't allow you to play from the tips without verifying your handicap. If you're on the border they suggest playing up rather than back.

post #18 of 24

Most courses I have played have some type of survey marker on the tee to show where the distance was measured from.  I have found some 150 yard markers that seem to be way off.  But it is difficult to visualize exactly where the flag is compared to the center of the green from that far out.

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