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Many courses are adding shorter tees to help with enjoyment of the game


TEE IT FORWARD


BY SUSAN FORNOFF Look out for a


new “less is more” trend, coming soon to a Northern California golf


course near you. Less yards, more birdies.


Lower scores, more fun. “Face it, it’s more fun


to play a shorter course because you score bet- ter—and, really, don’t you have much more fun when you score better?” asks Sheri Erskine, a course rater for the Women’s Golf Associa- tion of Northern California. It’s a sentiment echoed in the 2011 Tee It Forward initiative launched nation- ally by the USGA and PGA of America at the behest of Barney Adams, the founder of Adams Golf. Adams created a table recommend- ing the yardage for a player based on how far the player typically drives the ball. So, for instance, the


average 225-yard driver should play a course at 5,800-6,000 yards, the average 175-yard hitter at 4,400-4,600 yards. “I think it’s kind of


novel,” said NCGA Direc- tor of Course Rating and


44 / NCGA.ORG / WINTER 2012


Handicapping Jim Cowan. “I had not looked at it that way myself, but we have been proactive in this area for years by issuing ratings for nontraditional sets of tees. We’re just processing ratings for Martis Camp (a private course near Truckee), and they might have seven or eight sets of tees. And municipal courses in particu- lar have been a little ahead of the curve in asking for more sets of tees rated for men.” Indeed, many of the courses and industry lead- ers in Northern California seem to need no preaching. Acclaimed modern


layouts such as Greenhorn Creek (1996), Saddle Creek (1996) and Half Moon Bay’s Ocean Course (1997) appeal to a wide range of skill levels by starting their forward tees at under 5,000 yards and providing at least three other options. His- toric layouts such as the Presidio (1895), Pasatiempo (1929) and Castlewood (1923), designed when the forward tees were merely plunked a few yards before the so-called “member” tees, have in the 2010s created


new, shorter forward tees. At Pasatiempo, NCGA


Board member Gail Rogers saw a senior struggling to make the carries to the fair- ways from the 5,835-yard forward tees. She found a like mind in head profes- sional Ken Woods, and they collaborated on a 4,867- yard option. “For years I had been


hearing that our course is too long from the for- ward tees,” Woods said. “I think we created a great alternative that does not in any way detract from the MacKenzie design.” Erskine instigated a


step up from 5,900 yards to 5,200 yards at Castlewood, and at the Presidio. General Manager Jamie Miller in- stalled some new tees after hearing from women who loved the course, its restau- rant and clubhouse, but not navigating 5,596 yards in a cold, damp climate. If these efforts appear to be gestures appealing only to women, think again. Won’t the teenager who has mastered video gaming be more inclined to play golf if his chance of success


increases? If there’s a more forward set of tees, wouldn’t shorter-hitting men caught in the mindset that the forward tees are just for women feel freer to move up to those tees if there’s another set in front of them? “You still have the mental


block of the man or senior moving up to what tradition- ally have been women’s tees,” Cowan said. “That’s why courses are starting to get rid of the color red. Interestingly, if you have black, white, red and gold, you’ll find some seniors who will play gold because red is for women.” Well, if less is more then


maybe red will have to be green or gold—or, fol- low cues from the likes of the Dragon or Whitehawk Ranch, vacation destina- tions that label their tees by number of dragons and hawks. Instant color blind- ness, problem solved. Adams recently addressed a long list of other attitudi-


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