30 May 2023 | Clubs and Facilities |

Nudgee embraces the future of tee markers

by Australian Golf Media

Nudgee tee markers image
The new tee markers at Nudgee highlight local wildlife.

By Jim Tucker

Members at Nudgee Golf Club need only know the difference between a black duck and a silver turtle to embrace the move to skill-based tees. Or are we playing off the green kite or orange egret tees today?

It’s best you get your head around the distinctive local fauna because you won’t find a traditional red, blue or white tee marker anywhere on the Brisbane course by late June-July.

The full-time leap to do away with gender-based tee boxes is a natural step, according to Nudgee Golf Club General Manager Darren Richards.

The progressive club has already had an acclaimed 36-hole makeover with The Kurrai and The Bulka courses in full swing and stepping into the tournament spotlight as host of the Queensland PGA in 2021 and 2022.

“The momentum for the change really came out of a meeting with the venue development people at Golf Australia and the wish to get more women involved in golf and be a more modern club,” Richards said.

“Equality is a buzzword but how do you actually implement it? As a club, we changed our constitution so five-day as well as seven-day members get a vote. Lis Whitehouse adds expertise to our board.

“On course, how can you equal things up in the same comp when you have an A-grader hitting driver-nine iron to a long par-four and an older member perhaps playing driver-hybrid-nine iron to the same green?

“In building our new Kurrai course, we created long tee blocks where you can set-up for a comp with four ‘courses’ of different lengths from different tee markers. We will put out three sets of markers on The Bulka.

“A member can choose which markers to play off and still be in the same comp. Once the new tee markers arrive, the old blue, white and red markers will be obsolete. We’ve changed to local fauna for tee markers - black duck, green kite, orange egret and silver turtle.

“The beauty of golf is we already have handicaps to equal things out. We have slope ratings for a reason, and each is different from each set of tee markers. You have great choice around how challenging you want your day of golf to be. We are to trial different slope-based competition formats.”

In theory, the switch has already snapped the entrenched mindset about men playing off women's tees, because they will no longer exist.

Richards says he already has scratch markers eager to play off the back markers far more often than once or twice a year. Equally, women and girls have indicated they want to try playing off a different tee.

Some older members can push to a forward tee marker to invigorate their games.

No change of this nature comes without pushback from some members.

“There are plenty of theories, one being that a scratch marker is going to dominate by moving to the forward tees. Well, one of our pros experimented by going to the front tees. His handicap went from plus-two to plus-seven with the slope rating and he only had 32 points,” Richards said.

One unexpected spin-off has been Richards fielding a number of phone calls from other Queensland club general managers eager to find out how Nudgee is implementing the change and what the feedback has been.

Brisbane Golf Club has been offering a choice-of-tee option in competitions over the past year while retaining the markers as red, white, blue and yellow.

At Maleny Golf Club in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, golfers have been playing off gender-neutral tees since 2021.

The traditional blue, white and red tees have been replaced by Farm (green), Obi (stone) and Mountain (black) to enhance enjoyment of the enthralling Par-69 course.

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