To heck with jade tees. Bring back the red, white and blue!
By Chris Rodell
Golf Magazine
May 2005

The color-coded system, so vital to our national peace of mind, is unworkable and needs to be scrapped. What is intended to convey crucial information today breeds only confusion. Are we talking about the Homeland Security Advisory System?

Nope, we’re talking about the arbitrary, chaotic and misleading system of today’s tee box color markers. Most golfers remember growing up with a basic all-American system as symbolically patriotic as Old Glory herself. Ladies hit from the reds, men from the whites and professionals from the blues.

Today’s tee boxes offer kaleidoscopic colors usually reserved for the super deluxe box of kiddie crayons. Instead of primary and easily distinguishable colors, golfers are met with an array of earth tones, metallic elements and namesake references. The splendid Tidewater in Myrtle Beach has Black, Gold, Silver, Copper and Jade tees. Many courses have black tees and blue tees. Colbert Hills in Manhattan, Kansas, has a combined bruiser called "Black & Blue Tees," not to mention Purple, Silver & Gold tees. Among the eight -- count ‘em! -- eight tee options at the Renegade course at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale are three shades of gold (Gold/Gold, Blue/Gold, White/Gold). It’s enough to have a golfer reaching for the Cuervo Gold.

Just as confusing are the ones that goad egotistical golfers to play from tees too distant for their abilities. The Dye Club at Barefoot Resort & Golf also in Myrtle includes Tournament, Championship, Member tees. Are you a championship player or tournament worthy?

Proponents of multiple tees argue that it gives golfers more options, while ignoring that those very options result in a breakdown of the essential golf camaraderie. Sharing a tee box and encouraging wayward balls to find the fairway and commiserating over the game’s multiple cruelties is a great bonding experience. It’s not uncommon for golfers in the same foursome to use as many as three different tees. How much fun is that?

And multiple tees add something more disturbing than confusion to the game. They raise your greens fees. "Certainly, having six or seven tees is more expensive than having three," says Jeff Bolig, director of communication for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. "It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that it takes a whole lot more man hours and money to build, maintain and renovate 108 tee boxes than it would to do just 54 that comes from three a hole."

It’s time to scrap the costly, divisive and unwieldy system of multiple tees, multiple colors. Golfers should once again reunite again under a banner of red, white and blue. It’s something that will look beautiful flourishing on golf courses from tee to shining tee.

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