Golf has reckoned with its rigidity in recent years, lightening up on rules and restrictions in the spirit of making the sport more inclusive. The COVID-19 pandemic acted as the ultimate accelerant for this initiative, introducing scores of people to the game when there was literally nothing else to do.
But for golfers old and new, there are still avenues to further enjoyment that can be explored. That was the thinking behind an interesting policy change at the Hartford Golf Club in Northwich, England. You might’ve seen the photo below of a sign at another golf course suggesting players choose their tee based on performance instead of age or gender.
“We’ve moved away from gender tees like this Golf Club below & we base it more on ability but most importantly – game enjoyment!” reads the tweet from @HartfordGolfC. “What do you think? Is this the way forward for golf?”
We’ve moved away from gender tees like this Golf Club below & we base it more on ability but most importantly – game enjoyment! 🏌️♂️
What do you think? Is this the way forward for golf? ⛳️ pic.twitter.com/Wr8GkAfJxN
— Hartford Golf Club ⛳️ (@HartfordGolfC) October 31, 2021
It’s easy meme fodder, to be sure. But Hartford GC decided to buck tradition and make performance tees the norm for visitors of the “family-focused” 9-hole track.
“The course has an inviting layout suitable for all levels of golfer with flat tee boxes and quick, smooth greens, tight, lush fairways and ponds and mature woodland that challenge the low handicapper yet also play fairly for the high handicapper,” reads a description on the club’s website.
“We’re just trying to be quite progressive,” Paul Cunningham, the club’s retail manager and social media coordinator, told Golf.com. “We want to push the game forward.”
Sifting through the snark, some of the more level-headed replies to the club’s original tweet note that performance is not always tied to driving distance. It’s a fair point, one that the club might consider as it moves forward with what you might call a progressive agenda. Additionally, they’ve done away with their dress code — a far cry from the pearl-clutching that goes on when PGA Tour players dare to wear hoodies.
“Golf is changing, and I think for the better,” Cunningham said. “We’re trying to get rid of a lot of those traditional, outdated rules.”