Earlier this year, the USGA and the PGA of America had a campaign to encourage golfers to play from the set of tees that are appropriate to their level of skill. I hope it went well, because the whole point was to make golf more fun and easier to play. What few male golfers know is that the right tees might be the red ones.
For years, the red tees have been called the Ladies’ Tees. They’re for short-hitting women. This needs to stop, or rather, become more inclusive. There are some short-hitting men out there, too. In general, if you can’t drive the ball more than 200 yards, you should be playing from the reds. The other tees present a course that is too long for you.
Even if you can hit the ball farther than 200 yards with a driver, but are pretty wild with it, you can play from the shorter tees, hit something off the tee that will keep the ball in play, shoot a better score, and . . . have more fun.
But some (actually, many) men feel that their manhood would come into question if they played from the red tees, even if they are hacks from the next set longer. Their loss, I’m afraid.
There is another reason why men won’t play from the red tees, and that is there is no course rating for men, at least as far as I have ever seen. Look at the scorecards of the courses you play. There will be an M and L rating for the white tees, maybe the blues, but the reds only have an L rating. That means if a man plays from them, his score can’t be turned in for handicap purposes.
It’s not that playing from the red tees will make a 90-shooter a scratch golfer, either. It might lower their score by four strokes. You might get the ball up the green quicker, but you still have to get the ball in the hole. The red tees make the game easier, but not that much easier. I know. I play from the red tees with my grandson, and I shoot only two strokes better for nine holes than I normally do.
And, having only an L rating perpetuates the myth that the reds are “Ladies'” tees. Look right there on the scorecard — L for ladies. What could be plainer?
So I’m calling on the USGA to encourage local rating organizations to establish course ratings for men at the red tees. If this body wants people to play from the right tees, then all barriers need to be removed, and this one is in the USGA’s purview. I’m even thinking of forming a committee to rate the red tees for men as soon as I can think of a title that lends itself to a catchy acronym.
In the meantime, if you want to have some fun, play a round from the red tees. You’ll hit different clubs, see a different course, and shoot a lower score, which is always good for the ego.