Are Gender Tees A Thing Of The Past?

Top 50 coach Katie Dawkins asks why there are still men’s and women’s tees - surely you should hit off the tee that matches ability?

Longer hitting women often want a longer course
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

 “What colour are the ladies' tees?” In answer to this question, you’ll inevitably hear "red". What if red tees didn’t exist? What if a golfer was able to choose where he or she teed off based on their ability not gender? Has the world of golf missed an opportunity to create a level playing field like so many other sports?

With many clubs beginning to become more inclusive and less focused on sections, captains and segregation, wouldn't it be a good idea to scrap the traditional white, yellow and red tee system, perhaps in favour of something far more versatile?

The Caversham, near Reading in Berkshire, boasts a fabulous 5 tee block system. By having a gender-neutral scorecard, this means the golfer not only chooses the tee that they are best suited to play from, but also the tee where they fancy playing from on that particular day. There’s no pressure to play from any tee area, merely one that suits the distance they hit the ball, or the level of accomplishment they’ve reached. 


The Caversham boasts 5 tee boxes of varying colours, the golfer chooses the one that most suits their ability. Not gender

At Caversham, a golfer chooses the tee that suits their ability, not gender

(Image credit: Katie Dawkins)

The result is a happy and united membership. Beginners and junior golfers don’t unnecessarily put themselves under pressure by playing from a tee that makes for a long haul of a round. They can mix up the scorecard and progress to another tee box as they improve. In my opinion, this makes them a far more relaxed golfer, as the course is lengthened steadily in smaller increments, compared with the usual jump from a red to a yellow tee. The course set-up and scorecard also gives a player the option to play 8 different courses using a combination of tees with a yardage ranging from 5,500-7,300 yards.  

The Caversham’s General Manager Gary Stangoe says, “This is by far the best thing we’ve done as a club in my opinion. We’ve got a 90+ strong section who play from a shorter course.” 

I think Orange Tees would be welcomed at many clubs

Would it be more accepted by men to tee off orange tees rather than red?

(Image credit: Katie Dawkins)

The club is also lengthening their members' golfing lifespan. Instead of dropping to 9 holes as age increases, the more elderly members play off the shorter tees. A far more manageable length of golf course sees them still competing, when some seniors at other clubs have had to relinquish a full round. 

Some might argue, why not just play off the reds? I feel this is hard for many male golfers to accept, as golf still hosts a fairly “kitchen” like environment where players give each other jovial digs and peer pressure plays a huge part. 

Lower handicapped women would embrace a longer course, more in line with the courses played on the tours. Yet the World Handicap System caps the qualifying course length at 6,100 in club golf. They won’t rate a course that length, therefore cards from tees longer than this won’t be included towards handicaps.

The Caversham Golf Club is hosting the England Girls Championships next year and England Golf will create a specific scorecard/rating so the course will be longer. This is definitely still a hurdle, as s I feel that it still restricts longer hitting women from maintaining a handicap on a course that fits their ability. This issue needs to be addressed if this system is going to be utilised effectively. 

It’s a great start and the more clubs that adopt this system, the more golf will begin to transform into an inclusive and welcoming sport - shaking off the cobwebs of tradition that have smothered it for too long. The future is bright and it should be multicoloured. 





Katie Dawkins
Advanced PGA Professional and freelance contributor

Katie is an Advanced PGA professional with over 20 years of coaching experience. She helps golfers of every age and ability to be the best versions of themselves. In January 2022 she was named as one of Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches.

Katie coaches the individual and uses her vast experience in technique, psychology and golf fitness to fix problems in a logical manner that is effective - she makes golf simple. Katie is now based at the stunning Hamptworth Golf Club on the edge of the New Forest. An experienced club coach, she developed GardenGOLF during lockdown and as well as coaching at Hamptworth she freelances, operating via pop-up clinics and travelling to clients homes to help them use their space to improve. 

She has coached tour pros on both LET tour and the Challenge Tour as well as introduced many a beginner to the game. 

Katie has been writing instructional content for magazines for 20 years. Her creative approach to writing is fuelled by her sideline as an artist.