Give Me Short Courses and I'll Play
I once said that I had never seen a golf course I didn’t like. I probably, about a hundred years ago, also said I had never seen a girl I didn’t like.
I probably lied about both.
It’s true that I love golf courses. I have often said golf course architects should have a special place in heaven because they are the only people who improve on God’s creations.
There was a time in my golfing life when I wasn’t overly concerned about the length of a golf course. OK, I wasn’t brash enough to tackle most courses from the championship tees, but I could certainly reach all the par-4s in regulation and some of the par-5s in two, so I was a happy camper.
But something happened to me on the way to the first tee. I got older.
I used to joke that I thought the problem was global warming. I said the earth was heating up and therefore expanding and that naturally made the holes measure longer. I was using Al Gore as an excuse.
My buddies laughed at me … until they reached my age and the courses grew longer for them, too.
The members at Gates Four Golf & Country Club in Fayetteville — the course where I’ve been paying dues now for 41 years — are lucky that management there recognizes our concerns.
The course, which is currently closed for a restoration project by architect Kris Spence, has taken steps over the years to keep our group competitive by periodically giving us shorter tees.
Over the past 15 years I have personally moved from the blue tees to the white tees to the gold tees. And believe me, I was ready for each move.
Yeah, there’s some pride and ego involved. And even now, when I’m playing a course during outings with golfers I don’t normally play with, I sometimes find myself trying to play from 6,200 yards.
That’s because I’m an idiot. I am no more capable of playing a 6,200-yard golf course now than I was of playing an 8,200-yard course 15 years ago.
On those rare occasions when I bow to peer pressure, I have a miserable day. I can’t reach many of the par-4s in regulation. Heck, I can’t even reach some of the par-5s in three shots. I find myself hitting 3-woods on par-3 holes. I don’t have fun. I fret. I pout. I want to quit.
If I’m playing from the appropriate tees and hit a good tee shot, which for me now is approximately 200 yards, I can reach a par-4 with a good second shot. That’s all I ask.
One thing I hate is playing in a golf tournament where there are no provisions for older players. You’ve got a four-man team ranging in age from 26 to 76 and you’re all playing from the same set of tees. Why?
Unless the 76-year-old is a rare physical exception, he can’t come close to hitting his tee shots as long as the 26-year-old. He tries to compensate by swinging out of his shoes and then he starts spraying the ball all over the course. Three holes into the match and he’s useless, except maybe for putting if it’s a captain’s choice event.
If it’s stroke play, he’s in real trouble. A lot of events allow players over a certain age to move to shorter tees, but subtract from their handicaps when they move up.
Hey, I established my handicap from the super senior tees, so why can’t I use it from them?
I’m just saying that golf courses get a lot of their play from older guys. Why not help make sure that these older players — who are the first to sign up for charity events — are given a chance to be competitive?
Thankfully, most golf course have added a set of tees to enable us old codgers to still feel that we can play a little. For those of us who are too egotistical to move up to the shorter tees, we deserve what we shoot. Go ahead; shoot 104 and moan to your wife when you get home.
Me? I’m going short and loving it.
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