What Are Gender Neutral Tees?

The traditional notion of men’s and ladies’ tees is being phased out. Teeing options increasingly reflect playing requirements and ability rather than gender.

What are gender neutral tees
Gender neutral tees are the way forward
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Until recently, most golf clubs in the UK have adopted a traditional method of assigning tees. Often - white, yellow and red, with white being men’s “medal” tee, yellow being the general playing tee, “the boxes” and red being the “ladies’” tee.

Under the World Handicap System (WHS,) each set of tees on a course can and should be rated for both men and women for handicap purposes, so there’s no requirement for men and women to play off particular tees anymore. All can choose the tee that will best suit their game.

Gender neutral tees can be of benefit, not only through maximising enjoyment for more golfers but also by improving pace of play. If players are driving from tees set too far back for their playing standard, they may struggle to play the holes as intended. This can result in more lost balls, more shots… more time.

Many clubs are now changing their teeing policy, following the teeing allocation approach that’s been to the fore in the USA and elsewhere in the world for some time. That being – tees not specific to gender but laid out to suit players of differing abilities. 

By changing the colour of the tees, perhaps making them blue, green and gold rather than the old-school white, yellow and red, and starting to refer to them as forward, middle and back rather than men’s and ladies’, more golfers will be inclined to choose a set of tees that suits their ability. They will enjoy the course and their game more as a result, and pace of play should be improved.

Another good idea is for tees to be referred to by the measured course they offer. This gives all golfers clear instruction as to what they will face. As an example, a set of tees delivering a 6,200 yard course could be referred to as the “62” course.

Which Tees Are Women’s Tees?

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This is a question many clubs are trying to get away from with the introduction of gender neutral tees. Taking a more progressive approach, they don’t offer specific “women’s” tees. Rather, at the modern club, the professional or starter will simply inquire as to the golfer’s ability, regardless of gender, and advise them the most suitable teeing option for them to fully enjoy their day on the course. With each set of tees rated for men and women under the WHS, there are no women’s tees, just sets of tees.

Can I Play Off White Tees?

gender neutral tees

(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

It was a classic query from the old days of golf in the UK – “Are we allowed to play off the whites?” Often the answer was no – they were sacrosanct and reserved for men’s competitions.

With a system of gender neutral tees in place, all golfers (members and visitors) should be allowed to play off whichever tees are most suitable for their ability. Some gunslingers might choose to play off the back pegs (whether these are white or not) regardless of whether they have the competency to do so, but most will elect to play off the tees that will give them the most on-course enjoyment.

Having all tees open to all, the golfing traffic will be better spread across the teeing areas. In the old days of the yellow “boxes,” most of the play was from them. With three or more sets available to all who play, the traffic will be split and specific teeing areas will be less hard hit.

Gender neutral tees have many benefits, like reducing concentrated wear and tear and improving pace of play but the greatest advantage is that they help more people enjoy their games to the maximum level. Gender neutral tees are the way forward.

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?