The most famous first tees are defined by some form of grandeur—a sweeping view of the course and fairway below, or some distinctly original setting. Most of the revered first tees are small and elevated, sitting close to the clubhouse. While that may make them functional and dramatic, such intimacy often proves just a bit too quaint due to the noise and pressure that add to an already stressful event: the opening tee shot.
We’ve all heard stories of golfers overcoming stage fright to strike opening tee shots against the backdrop of clanking dishes and lunchtime chatter at Merion. Or consider the highly visible, stage-like setting of the first tee boxes at Southern Hills Country Club, Riviera Country Club or Bethpage State Park’s Black course. Each is located high above the fairway, providing a dramatic scene that attracts a sizeable audience of passers-by and curious onlookers at these busy facilities.
Crowds detract. That’s why the model starting box is set slightly away from the commotion. Sometimes the tee is even part of the practice putting green, or even better, a small green is cut into the tee to allow for a few final putts as you wait for your group to assemble.
Preferred is the subdued beginning at the least subdued of courses, Pine Valley Golf Club. As at Winged Foot (pictured), there is a simple tee resting low to the surrounding ground, away from the clubhouse activity. But never so far to rule out a quick run back to the locker room for a forgotten sweater.
Next: Ideal Halfway House
By: Geoff Shackelford