There may be trouble ahead: Time to play off tee boxes suited to your ability
Hello. Welcome to this week’s Dialled In. I had quite the reaction to last week’s column, which was the first step in my campaign to make golf more enjoyable for the masses.
If you didn’t read it, here’s a one-sentence update: I applauded Robin Hood Golf Club in South Yorkshire for its initiative to reduce the course’s length and cut back the rough in a bid to make the game more appealing.
I also had a light-hearted dig at Eagle Nest Golf Club for its new “perch” tees which will make their course more than 8,000 yards long. Well, they saw it – own up, who grassed on me? – and thankfully they took it in good spirits…
Greetings golfers! we here at @EagleNestGolf want to offer teeing grounds for players of all abilities. At the same time we were constructing our "Perch" tees, we also constructed another forward tee at 3900 yds to continue to accommodate all players.
— Eagle Nest Golf Club (@EagleNestGolf) May 1, 2018
Here is a selection of tweets people sent me in response to the piece. The vast array of different responses is very pleasing…
As a journeyman amateur golfer of 25+ years, the shorter more interesting courses appeal much more than 230yd par 3 or 600yd par 5's.
— Mark Grayson (@markrwgrayson) April 30, 2018
Totally with you. My home course, AVGC, has had this rough and tree policy for the last two years and is all the better for it
— Nick (@stonedylan75) April 30, 2018
Completely and absolutely agree – golf should be marketed for the 98% of golfers, ie, those over 18hcap – hot the minority elite who make up just 1% of golfers in the world.
— Wessex Golf Tour (@wessexgolf) April 30, 2018
Common sense might just be kicking in?. Make the courses shorter or at least no longer and help with pace of play. ?
— Robert Higton (@higton_rob) April 30, 2018
5600 yards for me. Play it forward for more fun. Admit how good you are not !
— SoxFan (@richland63) April 30, 2018
Absolutely spot on. I couldn’t agree more. Bizarrely, the R&A driving distance report includes the roll distance.
Ladies Tour carry distance increase since 2003 averages less than 2 inches per year.
We don’t need to be lengthening our “members” courses. It’s just another barrier!
— Neil Harvey (@NeilHarveyGolf) May 1, 2018
Completely agree with you. Encourage folk to play AND enjoy is what's needed nowadays.
— Eileen Manson (@MansonEileen1) May 1, 2018
IMO golf is about enjoying the day, with friends, challenging yourself, and having fun. @dukesgolf we have tees ranging from Black7512, Blue7002, White6550, Green6130, Red5216. Choose to suit your ability, and enjoy, choose wrongly you will have a bad day. Too many choose badly!
— Andrew Y Johnston (@AndrewYJohnston) May 1, 2018
This really is just a tiny portion of the messages I received on this subject. And every message I received seemed to come back to one common denominator: Just let us play off the tees we want to play off.
A few weeks ago I played Headingley for the first time, where the final hole demands a drive of around 150 yards just to clear the rough and heather and reach the front of the fairway. It might not sound like far to you and me, but to a lot of golfers it’s simply not doable. I know my dad, now in his 70s, wouldn’t make it.
Last year I played Gog Magog in Cambridgeshire, where the 2nd hole – in the main photograph – requires a similar sort of tee shot from the regular tees, but the difference here is there is another tee built on the other side of the problems. There is even a sign that basically says, and I’m paraphrasing here, don’t play off the normal tee if you know you can’t.
What a wonderful concept. So here is the second stage of my campaign…
I’ve always believed in competitions tees should be determined by ability, not gender or age. Social game? Play off whichever damn tee boxes you want to.
Sadly, there is still too much stigma attached to it.
One gentleman, Peter Race, emailed me after reading last week’s column and told me he has regularly said to playing partners about playing off the red, only to get the usual response: “You can play off the red if you put a skirt on.”
How ridiculous is that? And I bet all the players that come out with these ridiculous remarks struggle to drive further than the 200 mark.
Apropos, Mr Race jotted down around 1,200 words of his thoughts on the matter, and I’ll tell you now, it’s magnificent. I will share it with you, I promise, you’ll just have to wait a couple more days.
The skinny is, I play golf for fun. If I wanted to get beaten up, I’d try boxing. It’s time for a change. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so tweet me on @AlexPerryNCG with your thoughts, or write to me, send a carrier pigeon, fly a banner at a football match. Whatever you want.
Battle of the (golf) sexes
I really like the GolfSixes event. What’s not to like? It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s getting the kids more involved. And this year they made it a mixed event which I’m sure you all agree was a wonderful move.
We banged on about it in the most recent edition of Fourball, but I’ll just repeat it here: How long have we been talking about “proper” mixed events on tour? It’s such an open goal for the men’s and women’s tours.
Anyway, generally really positive feelings about the event which is still finding its feet. I would like to see it move around the country in future years, though. I enjoyed this take from my friend and fellow golf scribe, Ben Coley…
I like GolfSixes, but I would much prefer them to housed it at a far less exclusive club. I'd like the kids who go this week to be able to play the course next week, because that's one of golf's great selling points. Centurion meanwhile has a membership category called 'Senate'.
— Ben Coley (@BenColeyGolf) May 1, 2018
You may have seen a couple of weeks ago, Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn received a rather devastating letter.
If you didn’t…
— Thomas Bjorn (@thomasbjorngolf) April 23, 2018
Fast forward a few days, and Bjorn went to meet the man that has broken so many golf fans’ hearts…
So the Captain returned the favour… pic.twitter.com/Py3PW92HGL
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) April 30, 2018
A lovely gesture, I’m sure you’ll agree. But I’m in quite a cynical mood – something to do with being at my desk on a Bank Holiday Sunday when it’s 25 degrees outside – so strap in. Doesn’t everything about this video just scream THIS IS WHY FEWER PEOPLE ARE PLAYING GOLF?
I’m sure Mr Atkinson is a lovely gentleman. But he’s obviously a very wealthy gentleman. He lives in a beautiful house in Ascot, with a lovely car in the drive, and wears Ralph Lauren – if you were wondering what gave it away.
Perhaps I am just being grumpy, and I’ll probably feel a bit differently about it tomorrow when I’m on the beach, but golf is so often beaten with the stick that it’s just a sport for rich, old white men.
Look, I’m not having a pop at Bjorn or the Ryder Cup PR team here – they saw an opportunity and went with it – but how much cooler would it have been if they’d showed up on the doorstep of some wide-eyed kid with dreams of one day playing in golf’s greatest event that isn’t 72 holes of strokeplay?
That’s probably enough from me, isn’t it? Sorry to leave on a negative note. Enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday.