Is It Time We Had Kids Tees on The Golf Course?

My son has just started secondary school and he’s been playing golf for about a year, although he has dabbled with it before then. He enjoys it, but he’s like me and finds slamming balls at the range a bit of a drag.

He loves to play out on the local courses and while Pitch and Putt is all well and good, he wants to try out his talents on a real course.

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I’m fortunate where I live that there are some cheap 18 and 9 hole courses nearby which, when times are quiet, I can take him to and let him enjoy a full round of golf.

However, it quickly becomes apparent that golf courses are not child-friendly places.

The first of the problems I encounter tends to be from other golfers, who view him as someone who shouldn’t be out on the course as he can’t hit the ball ‘far enough’. This is usually said by a golfer who at the next hole, tops his tee shot 10 yards and then blames my son for ‘distracting him’ from the game.

To be honest that’s neither here nor there. Fortunately these idiotic golfers are relatively few in number and I am no shrinking violet in asking them to point out where it says in the course rules that children are not permitted to play.

My real bugbear is that golf courses are not set up to be child friendly. By that, I don’t mean altering the course to make it easier, I simply mean adding tees that will make the course playable for a child.

Now it is important to note here that I am not talking about your Rory McIlroy prodigy. I mean a typical child, new to golf with a modicum of golfing ability who wants to come along with mum and dad and play on the course with them.

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Now on our courses, we have White Tees (for the lower handicap players and those who like to think themselves as elite golfers, often in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) and yellow tees, which are where us mortal male golfers tee off from. There’s also a red ladies tee usually a good few yards further down the fairway.

But where’s the child’s tee?

Now of course, on some holes, such as par threes or even short par fours, a child can tee off from a ladies tee without a problem. But what about the longer par fours or par fives where a child, who can barely hit the ball 120-150 yards with their cut down driver when they catch it sweet, is forced to take 6 or 7 shots before they even reach the green?

It makes perfect sense here for there to be a child’s tee much closer to the green, say no more than 300 yards away. The adults can play their balls from the tee, the child can walk with them up to the childs tee and then play their shot and there would be absolutely no delay. Indeed, this would make playing the longer holes much quicker with kids and less frustrating for them and players behind them.

You may think this is the prattling of a father wanting to make things easier for his son, but in truth, this is what I do anyway. I see no point in seeing my son get frustrated because he takes 2 or 3 shots to my one on the par 5s, so I allow him to tee off from the middle of the fairway around 300 yards or so from the green on the longer holes.

Kids Golf

It speeds up our game, makes him less frustrated and keeps play moving behind us.

So I’m staggered that golf clubs, at a time when memberships are falling and when clubs are racking their brains in how to attract new members and families through the doors, that this simple option hasn’t seemingly been considered.

You may argue that kids of 12 or 13 years old shouldn’t be out on the golf course. But if they adhere to the rules and spirit of the game and don’t cause any issues, what’s the problem?  Michelle Wie was qualifying to play against professionals at age 10, Lucy Li wualified for the US Women’s Open aged 11 and if you think it’s just the girls Ye Wocheng played in the Volvo China Open in 2013, aged 12.

Of course, these talented youngsters don’t need specialist child’s tees. But a normal 11,12 or 13 year old does.

Providing for them would certainly make golf appear more family friendly and in the current climate of dropping membership numbers across the globe, that can only be a good thing.

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