If you flick through any number of marketing brochures, websites and even course reviews in golf magazines, you’ll doubtless have seen courses promoting the fact that they have “multiple tee boxes to suit golfers of all abilities.” And while some of these clubs simply have the standard three-tee combination of the red /white /blue, a growing number of others (mostly the new courses, or forward-thinking established clubs) are taking a further step of adding colours like yellow (juniors/social) and black (“Tiger” tees).
But how often are these extra tees really used? When it comes down to the weekly comp, players generally play off the same old tee markers. Week-in, week out. Red for the women, white/blue for the men. Beyond the occasional “Black Marker” challenge, there is rarely any variety from that.
A few years ago, the US PGA launched their innovative TEE IT FORWARD campaign (supported by the great Jack Nicklaus), which encourages all golfers to play the course at a length that is aligned with their average driving distance. If you are a senior player or a beginner, for example, then you are encouraged to steer clear of the Tiger Tees, and instead play from the forward markers, etc.
This not only aims to speed up play, but also boosts enjoyment of the game for those players who struggle with the longer courses (and who are happy to put their ego in check.)
By playing from a more appropriate teebox, more golfers would potentially be hitting approach shots with, say, 6- and 7-irons instead of hybrids and long irons. This could result in a more enjoyable round, with fewer overall shots, shorter distance travelled on each hole, and maybe even fewer lost balls.
This makes perfect sense, and should be implemented at clubs across Australia.
Every course in the country has (or should have) ratings for each set of tee markers. So why can’t golfers compete in the occasional (or regular) “mixed tee” competitions, and all play from any tee box we want? Seniors and beginners with limited distance could play from the forward tees, while the low markers would play from the tips. The ratings and handicap system (as well as Slope, etc) should, in theory, level the playing field. So why can’t players simply pick their teebox prior to a comp, get their daily handicap for that tee box, and then compete in a single competition against the field?
In order for this to succeed, we would need to A) change our mindset, and B) become “colour-blind” when it comes to tee boxes. Many men would never consider hitting from the “Red” tees; but they would likely have no hesitation in playing from this “second position” if the markers were simply a different colour, and/or named something that ties in with the course or region (e.g. Barnbougle Dunes has tees with names like Forrester, Melaleuca, Marram, etc).
So, if a senior or a beginner wants to play from the tees in the forward/first position, a “colour-blind” teebox would let them do so without any stigma/embarrassment. If a woman player wants to challenge herself from the middle or back positions, then by all means, let them have a go.
I understand that not all clubs have the software or technology in place to run this type of “mixed” event, nor do they necessarily have members willing to eschew tradition. And not all courses have enough distance between their markers for this to work. And there are doubtless little details that need to be addressed. But as I’ve said many times in this column, if clubs wants to survive (and thrive), then they need to start thinking outside the (tee) box. And as we Australians are generally a very creative and intelligent bunch, I’m sure that clubs out there can find a way to make this work.
See you on the fairways,
Does your club run multi-tee competitions like the ones mentioned above? Then drop us a line and tell us all about it. Or if you have any groundbreaking ideas that you’d like to see covered/addressed in this column, then share it with us! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.