Women’s tees at Querbes, please?

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

Have you heard this one? A group of women sitting around the clubhouse, talking about the upcoming golf tournament at their country club. “I’m winning a trophy this year,” one of them says with consternation. “All I’ve gotta do to win a division is get my handicap higher. Guess I’ll go play a few rounds at Querbes.”

Yes, it’s a joke, but it’s not that far off. In fact, a version of that conversation actually took place at a local country club recently. Truth is, there are a number of women who are reluctant to play at Querbes Park Golf Course because of the lack of ladies’ tees.

First you must understand that I fit into the “average” golfer category, meaning my handicap hovers between 14 and 16. In a good year, I can get it down to 11 or 12 (those years, however, are few and far between). That means I’m going to shoot (on average) in the 80s – good days will be low 80s and not-so-good (that’s my wheelhouse) will rise to the upper-80s or – the golfing gods forbid – the low 90s.

In other words, I play from the women’s (or ladies’) tees. Those of you who would condemn (or cancel, or whatever) me go ahead. I’m not offended when they’re called ladies’ or women’s tees. (I also appreciate it when a person of the male gender opens the door for me.) Politics aside, call them what you want. Women – and older gentlemen who like to play these particular tees – who are offended by that term like to call them “forward” tees. Potato/potato.

All golf courses are not set up the same. Years ago, you would generally find three tee boxes – the forward, middle, and back (or championship) tees. Nowadays, courses may have up to five tee boxes with different colors representing different distances and levels of difficulty.

Huntington Park Golf Course has five: black, gold, blue, white, and red. Call them what you will – it’s 6,954 yards from the black, 6,646 from the gold, 6,304 from the blue, 5,656 from the white, and 5,068 from the red. Par for the course (a great term) is 72, except for the ladies, which is 74 (Nos. 17 and 18 are par-5’s for us). Even with a couple of holes on the front nine that are difficult for the average woman golfer to reach in regulation, it’s set up pretty fair.

Just what is fair? In a study commissioned by the National Golf Course Owners Association and conducted by the Sports & Leisure Research Group, it was determined that “women who play golf at facilities that follow best practices tailored to them will play the sport more often and enjoy an enhanced overall experience, while rewarding course operators with better financial results and pace of play.”

First on the list of “best practices” was this:

Four or more sets of tees, with the forward set of tees ideally under 4,500 yards (though up to 4,800 yards considered) all to allow golfers to reach greens in regulation.

The rule of thumb for that determination was taking the average woman golfer’s tee shot and multiplying it by 30. Yes, the survey was conducted 11 years ago so improvements in equipment would drive that total higher on today’s courses. I don’t have a problem with a 5,000-plus-yards course as long as the tees are fair – for the average woman golfer. If you’re a championship woman golfer, play from the back tees.

It didn’t take long to find other women golfers who feel that same way.

“That’s one of the reasons our ladies’ group moved to Huntington,” says Nina Glorioso. “It’s frustrating when you hit two incredible shots and you say, ‘My gosh, I’m not even near (the green).’ There’s no reason you should have to use driver, 3-wood, 3-wood on a par-5. It just got frustrating. I know they used to have ladies’ tees at Querbes.”

Indeed they did. There are now three tee boxes at Querbes Park Golf Course – black, silver, and gold. According to the scorecard, black is 6,139 yards, silver is 5,851, and gold is 5,388. All three distances are par-71.

“My daughter was in town a couple of weekends ago and I brought her here to play,” a Querbes regular – of the male persuasion — said one recent afternoon. “She was confused that there weren’t ladies’ tees, so we just moved her up (to hit her drive) where it would be fair.”

Recent statistics show an increase in the number of new golfers to the sport. Sure, beginners are going to play slower than the average golfer. If the tees are not fair, however, those long rounds are not only going to be frustrating to the beginner; they’re going to infuriate the group behind it…and the one behind that one.

“If they would put the ladies’ tees (back at Querbes), that would help the pace of play,” says Glorioso, who is quick to point out she misses playing at the historic golf course. “I love Querbes. I want to play there. I know, for not lots of money, they could make it fair.”

For sure, it would require some work – and money. But at least they wouldn’t have to buy the red tees – they’ve still got the old ones. They’re on the property — in storage.