Nairn Dunbar Golf Club introduce new “ability tees”

Nairn Dunbar Ability Tees

Nairn Dunbar introduced a new tee system to their course for 2022, in an effort to get golfers playing from the correct yardage.

The championship links has introduced new tee markers throughout the course, which aim to get golfers playing from a yardage that suits their ability, not their gender. While the north of Scotland course used to have red, yellow and white tee boxes, they now offer blue, green, purple and white markers, as well as a championship tee.

Golf Course Manager Richard Johnstone said that this was a long-term aim to introduce the new teeing options, which aim to speed up play and make the game more enjoyable for both members and visitors.

“It’s a big community drive for us to make the course enjoyable for everyone,” he told bunkered.co.uk. 

“At the end of the day, it’s your leisure time and it should be enjoyable. That’s what it’s all about.

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“We hope that it can speed up play and make Nairn Dunbar a course that suits any ability of golfer. We want to get away from the idea that tees are a gender or sex related thing. Hopefully this can get players playing to their ability, and not focusing on whether a tee is red or yellow.

“Nairn Dunbar is a tough course as it is, so we wanted to give beginners the chance to tee off somewhere that makes it more manageable. The blue tees are at 5,467 yards, while the championship tees are 6,731. So, if you want a challenge, it’s certainly still there.”

Johnstone said that while the club introduced this off its own back, neighbouring course Castle Stuart Golf Links have a similar system in play which works well.

“Castle Stuart is probably the closest example to what we’re doing,” he explained. “They have a system where they have several tees based on ability, rather than gender. That’s something that inspired us, but we’ve wanted to do it ourselves for a long time.”

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The tee markers were in play for the first medal of the year, and Johnstone said the club have received a very positive response from the membership.

“We had our first competition with them over the weekend. With around 25 players playing, there were only around five playing off the championship tees, everyone else was playing further forward. The computer system works out the slope rating for each tee, so it’s a great way of keeping things on a level playing field.

“We’ve not had the tees in play for a long time, but so far the response has been really positive. We’ll be able to gauge it better as time goes on, but we think we’ll have this system in place for most monthly medals and stablefords in future. You have some historic competitions that need to be off the championship tees, but for other events we have this option.”

While it was Johnstone's greenkeeping team who implemented the system, the club were very supportive of the idea, with a forward-thinking committee in place at the course.

"We have a really forward-thinking team here at Nairn Dunbar," said Johnstone. "The greens convenor as well as the greenkeeping team were really keen to get this in place for the start of the season, so we're delighted. Next year our club captain is going to be a woman, we just want to try and be more inclusive." 

Johnstone hopes that the initiative will encourage those who might have struggled from the yellow tees in the past to move forward, as well as give low handicap golfers the chance to play forward and see the course from a different perspective.

"I think for a lot of players, there's an ego thing," he said. "Some guys might not want to play from the red tees as they see them as a ladies tee, but hopefully this will get them to play to their ability and not gender.

"Also, for better players, it gives them a chance to play forward and make some more birdies. Golf is supposed to be fun, and hopefully this will help players enjoy themselves."

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