It was his idea, and while his idea was born out of a way to save labour, mine was an adaptation to spread traffic, change the way golfers think, AND save money.
It was an idea born of necessity, incubated in ingenuity, and launched from pragmatism. I cannot recall the exact day it happened, but I do know it has the potential to greatly reduce the time every course spends mowing, repairing, spraying, fertilizing, sanding, and recuperating tees. It was roughly five or so years ago on a Monday and I was standing on the par-3 13th tee at The Refuge in Flowood, Miss. (a public course our design firm recently began an 18-month full-course renovation on in July) with course superintendent Bill Whatley, GCSAA, and then assistant superintendent Cory Messer, GCSAA. Cory has since moved on to be the head superintendent at another local course (in the interest of full disclosure, our sister company operates The Refuge).
We were discussing the shade issue on the undersized tee complex which was surrounded by large trees all too eager to crowd out every bit of sunlight they could (a problem we are in the process of correcting during the renovation) and noting that the conversion to zoysia tee surfaces was not getting the job done. There was simply too much traffic on the par-3 tees - the zoysia was too slow to recuperate and there was too much shade for Bermudagrass.
As we stood there brainstorming and espousing the virtues of chainsaws, a single golfer pulled up on his golf cart and made his way to the stressed out tee box. He was in his early 50s, in no particular hurry, and - based on the contents of his cart's sweater basket - quite the fan of Coors Light. Because the main tee had become obliterated by divots from the previous weekend's barrage of play, we had the tees on a secondary tee below the main tee and adjacent to the water. The man strode to the main tee with a cigar firmly ensconced in his teeth and bent over to tee up his ball in the middle of the minefield of unrepaired divots.
"Sir," I said politely. "We've moved the tee markers down here today to the lower tee to give this tee a chance to recover from all of the divots."
"Okay," the man replied as he continued to put his tee in the ground and line up his tee shot - on the main tee amid all the divots and devoid of tee markers. That's because the tee markers HAD BEEN MOVED TO THE LOWER TEE!
"Sir," I interjected as he tossed what few blades of grass he could find between the divots and tried to assess the wind direction (there was no wind). "The tee markers are down here." I was pointing in the direction of the lower tee to avoid any confusion.
"I heard you the last time," he chortled. "But I don't want to play from there. I'm playing up here." With that, he addressed the ball, pulled the club back and proceeded to miss the green and narrowly avoid the water hazard. As he drove off with nary a word, I turned to look at Bill and Cory and they in turn at me. We all had the same look on our faces - somewhere between amusement and bewilderment. Let's call it befuddlement. Then the epiphany struck me â¦ when Bill muttered "Why even have tee markers?"
"Why, indeed?" I thought aloud. More to the point, why do we force golfers to focus all of their wear and tear on a relatively small rectangle of each tee bounded by two markers and an imaginary border two club lengths deep? This man obviously didn't care (although for the wrong reasons) where he was teeing up his ball. I surmise that most reasonable golfers, if given the opportunity, would typically choose a spot where grass was plentiful and not in the middle of a few hundred unrepaired divots.
You can read the full article from Golf Course Industry HERE