A number of Golf Clubs in England are abandoning ladies’ and men’s tees in favour of tees which any member 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.
Gender-free tees are common in the USA and the concept is attracting growing attention here. Gemma Hunter, England Golf’s Handicap & 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 Golf Club in Norfolk was among the first to introduce gender-free tees and also 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.”