A free for all from the back tees, or save them for the biggest events? Two of our writers face off

They represent a course’s toughest test – a layout stretched out to its maximum. It can’t get any more difficult than this. Yes, we’re talking about the back tees.

Golfers are suckers for punishment. Give many the choice and they’ll slink off right to the limit every time they tee it up.

So some clubs restrict when you can play from the whites, golds, purples – whatever they might be called – saving them for the summit of competition play.

But should that always be the case? If you pay your subscriptions, don’t you have the right to play from wherever you choose? Or is it spot on to keep the top tees in their finest condition? Two of our writers get stuck in…

‘It just got boring – to the point where I could play the course with my eyes closed’

I’ve seen both sides of this coin and I know which I prefer. It isn’t adding extra yardage every time I tee it up, writes Steve Carroll.

At a former club, golfers were able to universally play from the furthest tees. You’d get to a competition and that once luscious teeing area looked like something else entirely.

But that wasn’t my principal issue with it. Could I get any of my playing partners to venture further forward? No, I could not. They always trooped straight to the backs. Anything else, outside of when the markers were put away for the winter months, was somehow an admission of defeat.

This, round after round, year after year, just got boring – to the point where I could play the course (albeit badly) with my eyes closed. I knew pretty much exactly which club I was going to take on every tee and on every approach.

Where I play now regulates when you can take on the course from the tips – keeping it largely to weekends and competitions during peak season. It has definitely made a difference to my mentality.

Moving right to the limits of the course now feels like an event and switching the tees between comps and a casual round – hitting different clubs and seeing alternative angles – has kept the course fresh for me.

So I’ll move to the back tees these days only when it’s necessary, and I think my enjoyment of the game is all the better for it.

‘If you’ve paid your money you should be able to play from where you like’

There aren’t many things worse than that feeling of walking to the first tee knowing that one member of your group is going to say something along the lines of, “Off the tips, lads?” says Alex Perry.

No. I play off 14. I play golf because I enjoy it. I’m at my happiest when strolling the lush green fairways. I don’t care if I’m playing the Old Course or Old MacDonald’s Farm, I don’t want to feel like I’ve been beaten up by the time I’ve reached the turn.

It’s no coincidence that Off The Tips Lads Guy is generally a hacker who can barely punch it out his own shadow. Why is there so much raw machismo in this beautiful sport of ours? Let’s just play the course around 6-2 and enjoy our day.

That said, I will absolutely defend anyone’s right to want to play from whichever tee they want. I regularly play with plenty of very low handicappers who want to push their game to the limits. And that’s fine, even if my ego does take a bit of a pounding.

So whether you’re a paying member, of if you’ve rocked up and handed over 50, 60, 70 of your hard-earned, then you should be able to play what you consider the best course for you.

What do you think? Access at all times or save them for Saturday best? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

Alex Perry


Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

Handicap: 14

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