The short way home can be a blessing for senior golfers, writes Chris Vogt
SOME time ago, Golf’s governing bodies determined, in their infinite wisdom, to introduce shorter tees. Ostensibly to speed up play, the tees were invariably yellow and set well forward, enabling those who’d lost a yard to still play the course as it was intended. Eligibility to use them varied, but was usually some combination of age and handicap. At some clubs, it’s age only. At others, a personal choice. Then there are clubs where the yellow tees may be the course of the day for all visitors, to give the back tees a rest prior to a members comp round. Regardless, they have proven a crucial introduction, enabling longevity, enjoyment and satisfaction to hold sway in the game.
For one member, whom I’ll call Dave, the yellows saved him from giving away the game he loved.
“Injury and illness had curtailed my ability to play the full course with any enjoyment or degree of competitiveness”, he recalled. “I was embarrassed with the level of my game from the back tees, and felt I’d be letting down anyone who drew me as a partner. Above all, I was becoming disenchanted with golf.”
Dave seriously considered leaving his club, which had a rule in place regarding qualification for the yellow tees.
“I was too young!” Dave remembered.
Fortunately, the club didn’t want to lose a long-standing member, so rules were bent. The result is a golfer who continues to play three times a week at his beloved course, with his mates or anyone else who cares to join him. The bar has also retained one of its loyal customers.
There are golfers who shun the yellow tees for fear of the attached stigma. Dave wasn’t having it:
“We feel as much a part of the daily comp and the club as we did in earlier years. There’s certainly no stigma around here when it comes to the yellows”, he said. We’re all happy to take each other’s money, too. The bet is the same, regardless of tee colour!”
Much has been written of course lengthening to counter equipment. Thankfully, common sense prevails at most clubs, and our treasured seniors are grateful for the gesture. I’m yet to qualify for the yellows, but have had some memorable rounds in the company of these wily veterans, and copped many a hiding in the process. Time catches us all, sooner or later, but there are ways to keep it at bay, lest it interfere with our pursuit of the perfect round…