'It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Male Or Female' - Club Unveils Gender Neutral Tees

Woolley Park Golf Club in West Yorkshire unveiled the tees that are focused towards the ability of the golfer and the enjoyment of the game

Golfer tees off on a course
(Image credit: Woolley Park Golf Club)

Woolley Park Golf Club in West Yorkshire has revealed gender neutral tees for its course, with the emphasis being to "play from a tee that suits either your ability or gives you the most enjoyment."

"Today marks the day we yet again break the mould…all our tees are now WHS measured for both men and women," the West Yorkshire club posted on social media. "Competition golf can now be played from a tee that suits either your ability or gives you most enjoyment…how golf should be! #breakingbarriers #movingforward"

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"We are quite a different club, we are family run, we try to be forward thinking," Woolley Park's clubhouse manager Emily Rowbottom, who was influential in the move to gender neutral tees, told Golf Monthly. "Over 95% of our competitions are mixed competitions so regardless of your gender, when you walk in you can majority of the times play in a comp because at the end of the day, golfers are golfers. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.

"The whole point of the World Handicap System and tee system is that it is built so that it takes into account your ability, whether you’re male or female, good golfer or not such a good golfer, and we just think the tees are there for anyone, I don’t see why it should be anything different."

Emily says the move to gender neutral tees is the "next cog" in the changes and also stated that she finds some the rules and traditions at golf clubs "disheartening and "surprising" as a person who comes from a non-golf background.

"We dissolved our ladies section a few years ago and brought the ladies into the main part of the club so that everyone could enter as much stuff as possible," she said. "It’s been a really positive change and this is just the next cog in the changes really.

"We’re a family run business so I was the push behind it. Yes [I’m proud], It’s great, I hope it encourages other clubs to follow suit. Why should people be dictated as to what tees they should play off when all the tees are there and measured?

"We are different. We’re family run and I think it makes a huge difference. At the end of the day everyone’s here to spend their leisure time with us, they’re not here to be dictated to by a load of rules. They’re here to spend their leisure time so I think a lot of people forget that. I find it disappointing that you can go to golf clubs and be told how to dress, or how to play, and for example whether you’re allowed to wear a hat in the clubhouse. I still find that astonishing because I don’t come from a golf background. "

The club recently won the 'New Media Award' at the 2022 BIGGA Awards for its strong social media presence. A recent video, showing a timelapse of bunker maintenance, amassed more than 23m views.

Along with Woolley Park, Hartford Golf Club in Cheshire also announced in November that it will no longer distinguish tees on its course based on gender, with the club stating that it has ended the tradition of men and women teeing off from different places. Going forward, it will now invite players to select which boxes they tee off from based on their ability.

Many individuals have praised the actions of the clubs, with one Twitter user commenting: "Excellent. Should be the way everywhere. Just a number of options that anyone can play from depending on their golfing ability and desire for challenge."

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Over the pandemic, the number of female golfers in the British Isles being introduced to the game has almost tripled, with nearly 1.5 million women playing at least one full round of golf in 2020. A total of 25% of all female players were new to the game of golf.

As well as the increase, The R&A also revealed that more than 5.7 million people played on a full-length golf course in 2020, up from just over 2.3 million participants in 2019. Of those, 36% identified as returning or new golfers – with 16% of players starting or trying golf for the first time because of the pandemic. Because of this, the idea of a tee system being dictated by ability makes perfect sense, with the key focus being the enjoyment of the game. 

Matt Cradock
Matt Cradock

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.