First tee – restriction on club to be used

Following my note of 6th May, I’d like to update members on what we are doing to alleviate the problem of balls leaving the course and flying into the houses and gardens of our neighbours.

The initial design of the hole encouraged longer hitting players to play down the right side of the fairway and some golfers attempting to reach the green inadvertently hit their ball out of the club’s property.

In 2015 Scott Macpherson was hired to redesign the tees and bunkering to encourage golfers to play further left on this relatively short par 4 hole. The aim was to push the line of play to the left side of the fairway corridor thus giving greater distance between the boundary line and the play line. The new tees also angled away from the boundary and we acted to remove the willow tree short left of the green, plant more trees and move the out of bounds posts further left into the fairway to emphasise the new play line

As previously stated, it is fully appreciated that the vast majority of members have no chance of clearing the trees with their tee shots but we are faced with the fact that a minority of golfers are intent on taking a driver, or similar, and have the capability of clearing the trees with an errant shot. This is evidenced by recent events.

Again as stated in my previous note, members need to be clear that the new hole design was intended to reduce dramatically the risk of tee shots carrying over the trees and into neighbouring properties. Members made it very clear that retaining the par 4 was the strongly preferred option but we all accepted that in so doing there could never be a 100% guarantee that tee shots would not land in adjacent properties. All we could do was to minimise that risk as much as possible. This was made clear when Scott Macpherson made his presentation to members on 28th September 2015.

The Rules of Golf do not permit us to dictate which club or clubs may or may not be used for any particular shot but what we are doing is limiting the distance which we expect players to carry the ball through the air.

With effect from Wednesday 11th May, we shall again be using the upper tee but with the proviso that players must not use a club with which they could expect the ball to carry more than 160/180 yards, depending upon which tee is being used.  There will be a sign on the tees stating Players must not use a club from this tee capable of carrying the ball more than 160/180 yards’ 

The amount of carry is the critical issue and so roll out beyond 160/180 yards is fine. It will enable many of the members to hit drivers but constrain the longer, high hitters to mid irons.

There will be a white flag on each side of the fairway, some 100 yards from the green, with a broken white line between them and players must use a club that will ensure that their ball does not carry beyond this line.

This will be a temporary measure to get the full hole back into play without fear of the wayward ball. Visitors will be mandated to play off the lower front tee.

The greens staff are aware that the new tee and landing area will need very regular attention. They will also be reducing the height of the mown area in front of the green to 15 mm instead of the current 21 mm to make access to the green a bit easier.

This form of restriction is not unknown and in fact a very similar and successful restriction has been in force at the 1st hole at Dumfries & County Golf Club for many years.

In the meantime, we have cleared with Scottish Golf Ltd and the R&A that these measures have no affect on competition play, have no affect on the Standard Scratch Scores and that all competitions played under these conditions will be qualifying competitions.

The longer term solution needs further discussion but this will become easier to visualise once we get some growth and players get used to pitching into the green.

I have to repeat that we ask for everybody’s support and patience in our effort to create a par 4 hole that can be enjoyed by 100% of members without fear of legal consequences that would affect us all.

May I also take this opportunity of thanking those members who have taken the trouble to write to us with suggestions – your input is much appreciated.

Alan Goodman
10th May 2016