Letter to the USGA

77 Liberty Corner Road
PO Box 708
Far Hills, NJ 07931-0708

Attention: Marcia Luiges (Women’s Committee)

Having coached tennis for forty years, and being a high handicap golfer, I tend to compare the two games. My wish is to offer some hopefully constructive criticism to golf.

Suggestion one: Confront your two biggest problems, someone in front of you and someone behind you. The ability of players and the difficultly of the course are the main variables in delaying someone or waiting for someone. Europeans require certification of ability to play. Yet in America, we have one hundred plus scorers teeing up from “the tips”. Shouldn’t people play further up to play faster?

Why not? For example, if you shoot a certain certified score, you play from that tee. Many average males could play from the senior tees and still shoot 110. Why do men have 3 or 4 tee positions and women only 1? Shouldn’t pro women play from different tees than beginning women? Having a foursome of different teeing starts will take little extra time comparatively. Maybe golf shouldn’t have “seniors” or “women’s” tees at all but tees determined by ability.

From what I have heard, many golf courses are struggling to make it financially. Maybe this is why so many rangers are hesitant to confront slow players. My guess is the opposite; if the pace were better controlled, business would pick up.

Speaking of golf’s other struggle, finances, perhaps more “women-friendly” courses would be helpful. Who better than women to grow the number of paying customers during the week. Yet it appears that golf shoots itself in the foot when it comes to encouraging women’s play. Women’s college golf is begging for competent women players. Scholarships are waiting due to Title IX. When the “macho” guys complain about women, it runs them off. Many women are self-conscious about having people wait, particularly if they are forced to play from unrealistic tees. Private, public and municipal facilities might well create a real booming market for women by:

1. Encouraging them
2. Teaching them
3. Designing women-friendly courses
4. Blocking time periods for play and instruction

Anyone in the American Tennis scene in the last thirty years has watched women grow their tennis population at an amazing pace.  In the Southern US, Atlanta, Georgia started a tremendous boom in women’s league play. ALTA (Atlanta’s League Tennis Association) formed teams of women at different levels of play. That has blossomed at a rate and quality that one could hardly imagine. One of their strokes of genius was to attach USTA (United States Tennis Association) membership to league play eligibility. This had a tremendous impact on national level membership and provided substantial funding and influence. Another significant by-product of league play was the influx of dedicated and qualified women into leadership roles in tennis. This bled over into areas other than league play as well such as administration, junior tennis, state, district and national influence, etc.

In conclusion: Ability tees will speed up play. Golf should hammer out the details, for example:

Possible Golf Course Design:
No Men’s, Women’s or Senior tees. Six Ability tees. Players play from where their         handicaps qualify them to play.

Tee            Par 3 (yards)               Par 4            Par 5
1.                     200                           400                525
2.                     120                           350                490
3.                     140                           325                465
4.                     110                            300                400
5.                    100                            275                 370
6.                     90                              250                320

First, Second and Third Approximate Shots (yards)

Par 3, as above

Par 4                         Par 5
1. (300-100)        1. (300-160-65)

2. (240-110)        2. (240-150-100)

3. (210-115)         3. (210-150-105)

4. (180-120)         4. (180-120-80)

5. (150-125)         5. (150-125-75)

6. (125-125)         6. (125-100-95)

Couldn’t current courses redesign themselves to fairly standard and friendly tee distances? (see chart above)

Couldn’t golf “meccas” like Myrtle Beach, Florida and California not design a course more inclusive of compatible to women? (see chart above) If there are 100 for men in an area, why not one for women?

In the future, why not design courses with women in mind? (see chart above)

My guess is that this kind of thinking has been kicked around among your organization. I have no “axe to grind”. You may use or disregard this letter any way you see fit.

“And if you play golf, you are my friend.”
-Harvey Penick


Tom Parham

One thought on “Letter to the USGA

  1. Tom,

    The golf gods need to loosen up their knickers, go barefoot for a while, and have just one more cold Bud while listening to ‘Summertimes calling me” and I think you might have a chance with your ideas…other than that the stoggies and traditionalists of the golfing world wtll just watch as the fairways turn to hayfields, the cost to play the game on the remaining courses will become prohibitive, and the tennis world will see more women on the courts and not the golf courses.

    Great seeing you in Athens..I am waiting to hear your thoughts on the Hall of Fame dinner..my guy was losing badly while the dinner was going on..and I considered just leaving him and going to hear you speak..and least then I would have been occupying my time with something of substance..

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