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Gold tees at Rookery North a valuable addition

Not having to hit over this pond from the red tee box is just one of the advantages of playing the new gold tees at Rookery North, seen here beyond the water’s edge. This new tee box is on the green side of the par 5 17th hole. FRITZ SCHRANCK PHOTO
August 11, 2017

Alice Dye is the wife and business partner of famous golf course architect Pete Dye, and an accomplished golfer and designer in her own right.

For example, she made the inspired recommendation to build the island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship. Her contributions to the family business went much further, however, especially in making sure the company’s designs presented a fair challenge to women. 

Several years ago, she wrote about the need to create a two-tee system for women and, as she put it, “those players who are not as long off the tee.” 

With increased participation of women in golf, disparities in their relative performance have also expanded. Dye argued that courses should therefore provide two sets of tees: “The longer-yardage tee should provide for a course yardage from 5,400 to 5,800 yards, while the shorter-yardage forward tee should provide for a course that measures from 4,600 to 5,400 yards.” 

Dye pointed out several benefits to adopting this proposal, including increased playability, decreased playing time and enhanced junior golfer experience. Using USGA guidance, she suggested yardage lengths for par 3s, 4s and 5s that would give more short-hitting golfers a chance to reach the greens in regulation. 

Two Rookery South teeing areas are in line with Dye’s essay. The Gold tees total 4,875 yards, and the Red/Gold hybrid layout totals 5,129 yards. Both sets of tee boxes see a lot of play from women, seniors and juniors. 

The Rookery North course’s new Gold tees went into play a few weeks ago, and they are already very well received. “The ladies love them,” said Brad Rouse, a pro shop staffer at the Milford layout. “They’ve increased their pace of play, and they don’t feel like they’re holding people up.” 

Kyle Deas, the Rookery North head golf pro, said he heard from one lady, “It’s nice I can actually now reach the fairways and par 3s on most holes.” Another golfer, one of the nine-hole ladies group, told Deas she shot her career best from the new tees. 

It’s not just for the women, either. Deas quoted an older gentleman who said, “I’m over 80, and now I have a set of tees I can play and have fun.”

The Gold tees total 4,795 yards, with significant yardage reductions on several holes. The Red/Green tees total 5,333 yards on the North course. 

The new tee on the par 5 17th begins on the green side of the large pond, eliminating the dispiriting dump into water that can happen with tee shots from the Red/Green tees. The 15th hole’s Gold tee is 275 yards out, making it possible for golfers to hit the downslope of the fairway with their drive. The 12th hole is now 60 yards shorter, making it far easier to clear the trees on the inside of the left dogleg hole.

The yardage differences are milder for other holes, but the overall changes are already gaining wide acceptance. 

Chris Adkins, who oversees The Rookery operation, gave full credit to Deas and course superintendent Mark Nauman for the new features. 

“Last winter, Kyle laid it out. Over the winter, they stripped off the areas for the tee boxes and added soil where needed. They sodded them when the sod would take, earlier this spring. The tee boxes were playable in about four weeks,” he said. “The new tees are definitely speeding up play.”

Deas also believes the pace of play has improved. In addition, he noted the new tees created a side effect he hadn’t considered. He says more men are moving up to play the Red/Green tees. 

That’s always been a good idea. The Rookery North course is fun from the shorter tees for most golfers, but also presents a good challenge for longer-hitting golfers from the back tees. This year’s Delaware Amateur used a mix of Blue and White tees. The winning score was 2-under par for 72 holes. 

Playing the set of tees that matches your abilities is the best way to enjoy a round of golf. The new Gold tees at Rookery North make this possible for many more golfers, and the folks who made this happen should be applauded. 

Local Club Competition Results 

The Kings Creek CC Ladies 9-Hole group played a team Cha Cha game Aug. 2. On the odd holes (Cha), one low-net score counted. On even holes (Cha Cha), two low-net scores counted. 

Sandy Neverett, Rosemarie Schmidt and Annette Stellhorn won first place. Tina Brown, Mary Mezger and Janie O'Connor took second, while Carolyn Horn, Gail Petren and Valerie Evans came in third.

The Sussex Pines CC Ladies 18-hole group played a low gross/low net game Aug. 1.

Susan Brady took first-place gross, with Brenda Lewis in second and Linda Townsend in third.

Hazel Pusey won first-place net, with Susan Shockley in second and Kathy Hudak in third.

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