A sign at the first tee at Rio Hondo Golf Club
A sign at the first tee at Rio Hondo Golf Club Image Credit: Courtesy Golf Business

A recent trend in the United States, UK and other major golfing nations has seen a move away from gender-specific tees.

Should the UAE be adopting such a policy with its prevalence of Championship Courses that are far longer than the norm?

And what does this all mean? Well, it means that the tees to be used by a player in a round is based on ability and not sex.

A sign on the first tee of Rio Hondo Golf Club in the US gives the option for players, irrespective of age and gender to play off whatever tee they choose, based on their ability, either as a group or individual.

Golf courses in the UAE can be stretched up to 7,500 yards and perhaps the usual length of the ‘Day Tees’ is around 6,500 yards and sometimes can go up to 7,000 yards.

These courses in the UAE are generally more modern and on the lengthy and challenging side, with exceptions.

If we think of the diverse nature of the golfer in the UAE, it includes members and non-members, male and female, the elite player off scratch or even better, the once-a-week golfer off a mid-handicap, the complete beginner taking up the game, the international golfer of all standards, and the elderly golfer as well as the junior.

The variety of standard is huge.

The golf ball does not know the gender, the age or the standard of the player hitting the ball.

The principles behind the decision of the clubs adopting these new policies are for players to play a course more appropriate to their skill and scoring levels, to enjoy themselves more, and encourage speed of play — one of the key challenges of golf today around the world.

In friendly play, gone will be the days of realising the golf course is too long and too difficult for the golfer.

On the technical side, all the tee lengths are ‘Course Rated’ with separate scorecards, so scores are all acceptable for handicap adjustment.

A great example of tee adjustment in the UAE was when the best women golfers in Asia played at the National Course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in November last year they played a golf course measuring 6,500 yards.

The R&A set up the course off a variety of tees that also included some of the ‘traditional’ men’s tees. And why not? This was appropriate for the standard of golfers playing that week — and the winning score was 16-under par.

Definitely one for a conversation in the UAE as the collective golf industry strives to attract new golfers and ensuring once they take to the course it is a positive experience and not a negative one that puts our new golfers off the game for good.