Wednesday

Back Tee Golf Guys and Their Oversized Egos

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Have you ever seen witnessed an American male playing golf from the forward tees? I didn't think so, neither have I.

No matter how many sets of tees there are - and nowadays it's not uncommon to find five or six - I've yet to witness the phenomena of man venturing into the territory known as "forward".

There's an invisible emasculation demarcation line on American golf courses that men know not to cross it. It varies depending on the number of tee boxes but there's never any question about where it lies and if a man crosses it, he may as well be playing golf in a dress a powder pink ballerina tutu.

At least that's what I've observed, in the three seasons I've played the game. In yesterday's New York Times, there was a perceptive piece by Bill Penington about playing the right tees.

Accompanied by a short video, it featured an all too familiar character by the name of "Billy Backtees". As a result of the emasculation demarcation line, I've played with lots of Billy's, I'm sure you have too. Playing with a Billy slows things substantially down and casts a pall of frustration over the entire round, but hey, at least everyone's masculinity is intact.

Lots of balls lost, but masculinity intact. How ironic is that?


There's an effort underway to make the forward tees more... palatable... to big egos; using colors not normally associated with "ladies" tees and never calling them "ladies" tees hasn't helped much. The line transcends name and color.

In some parts of the world, a certain handicap is required to play particular tees, which eliminates some of the tee box overreach, and which is why I single out American men in this post. Here in the US, such rules are extremely rare. However, Mr. Pennington does point to Harbor Rocks Golf Club in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley; you need permission from the pro shop to play the back tees (7,151 yards) there.

I know a couple of ladies who clamor to "play from the tips with the guys" though they clearly don't have the distance. However, several studies confirm what we've all always suspected; women are far less likely to overestimate their distance when asked. Yep, basically, it's a guy thing. And while I have no problem with a little tee box overreach when the course isn't busy, it's extremely annoying on a busy Sunday when Billy Backtee and his buddys allow their oversized egos to sabatoge the pace of play.

I think a partial solution might lie in the golf shirt I've designed for those men who wish they could play the forward tees...but just worry about what their peers might think. With this shirt on even a diehard Billy Backtees will be able to march forward with his dignity intact. And probably play the best round of his life.