These clubs are abandoning ladies’ tees and here’s why

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 1, 2015 14:12

More than 30 UK golf clubs have abandoned ladies’ tees in an effort to encourage improving golfers, retain ageing players and promote social golf.

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Most golf clubs have mens’ tees and, nearer the pin, ladies’ tees. However, movable ‘gender-free tees’ are common in the USA and the concept is attracting growing attention here.

Two English golf clubs, Sheringham in Norfolk and Trentham Park Club in Staffordshire, for example, have replaced their ladies’ tees with tees which any golfer can play off to suit their ability and inclination. Golfers who are losing length can move to forward tees; improving players can gain an extra challenge by moving back and social golfers can choose to play together off the same tees.

Gemma Hunter, England Golf’s handicap and course rating manager, said: “It is still very new here but I know of over 30 courses which have rated at least one course for both genders.

“This is all about making the best use of your golf course for all your members and for newcomers who want to take up the game. You’re not building new holes or tees, you’re just rating what you already have.”

Sheringham took the plunge a couple of years ago when it introduced a new set of forward tees to create an additional, short course. The club now has three sets of tees, all rated for men and women: from blue, the shortest, through to yellow and white. There is a further set of black tees which are rated only for men, on the advice of the ladies’ county association.

Secretary / manager Neal Milton said: “It’s been a great success, particularly with our senior gentlemen and higher handicap ladies, who now have the opportunity to play a shorter course.”

Milton first had the idea of gender-free tees when he was junior organiser at another club. “We had a young lady who was in England training and who was only allowed to play off the ladies’ forward tees, despite the fact she could hit it further than most of the men. The club insisted on the status quo,” he said.

However, when he proposed the idea at Sheringham the club quickly got behind it, while also creating four academy holes for beginners on the practice ground and allowing the use of buggies in competition.

“We have increased participation in our competitions and I believe we have better retention of members. We want people to play and to be part of the club for as long as they can,” said Milton.

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Trentham Park has abandoned the tee colours traditionally associated with the men’s and women’s game. Now the club has a black course (6,390 yards), blue (6,188), green (5,255) – plus a composite blue / green course measuring 5,694. Each of the four courses has been measured and rated for both men and women, who now have new scorecards, new tee furniture and new signage. There are also white tees, further down the fairways, for junior beginners.

One advantage is that the whole club can play together, off all tees, in special competitions.

Club manager Jon Farmer said: “We’re probably typical of the average golf club and want to retain the members we have and bring in new members. We’ve developed the course so that anyone can come and play the game and that’s important to us.”

He went on: “This is just fantastic. We can give longevity to the ageing player who might have left because they were losing length and didn’t feel competitive. The complete beginner, who feels embarrassed teeing off in front of the clubhouse, can use the forward tee which is about 100 yards away. As players improve and want a greater challenge they can move back.”

County development officer Gareth Shaw added: “Trentham Park is a forward thinking club, which is looking to recruit members and, most importantly, thinking of ideas to retain members. I believe gender-free tees tick all the retention boxes.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 1, 2015 14:12
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5 Comments

  1. David John Wicks October 1, 15:26

    Great idea thinking outside the box

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sue Coombs October 2, 04:48

    I love it – I often play off the men’s tees because I like the challenge of the longer course and the different tee angles, but of course in competitions I have to play off the women’s tees, this is a fantastic idea and as the game is a handicapped one this concept will make no appreciable difference.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Sam October 8, 22:26

    Great article! I am a new woman looking to get into the game of golf however I am having trouble with a beginner golf club set for me. Does anyone have any experience with any of the club sets on this list? I would like some opinions before I buy. Thanks! http://www.golfclubscenter.com/best-golf-clubs-beginners/

    Reply to this comment
  4. Bob Braban January 21, 15:11

    Absolute common sense. In the 1970s it was introduced at a club at which I was a member, but there was furore from the Lady members. Times have changed and it’s nice to see.

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