Thanks to reader John for John Paul Newport's WSJ follow up column on the joys of not playing too far back.
One of modern golf's fundamental problems, according to Bill Amick, a Florida-based golf-course architect who has thought much about this issue, is that many of its traditions were established in a far less egalitarian era, and the glamour of the sport continues to revolve around elite players. Developers believe, probably with justification, that only "championship" courses in excess of 7,000 yards long will receive enough notoriety, such as rankings on the prestigious top-course lists published by golf magazines, to successfully anchor a new high-end housing community or to be a draw at a big-time resort.
'I can confirm that I have never had a client ask for a shorter course, even when it was abundantly clear it would be more appropriate," emailed David Leininger, who worked for many years in golf-course development.
Owners and operators also got a lot of heat for being so ineffective in directing players to the appropriate tees. But readers had plenty of suggestions, ranging from the eminently practical (posting signs at the first tee suggesting which tees were appropriate for which handicap levels) to the European (putting out only one set of playable men's tees each day, as many courses in Scotland do) to de-genderizing tees by eliminating red markers, the customary color for women's tees.
A couple of readers said courses should charge extra for playing from the back tees. Frank Thomas, the former U.S. Golf Association technical director, says -- in all seriousness -- that courses should give free postround beer to foursomes willing to play from up front. "They might end up selling more beer in the end, and probably [would] be able to squeeze in a few more foursomes per day, because of faster play," he said.