ON A BEAUTIFUL morning in Truckee, Calif., three ladies waited for the man in their foursome to tee off from the back tees -- known as the "three stars" at 6,417 yards at Northstar-at-Tahoe (the big boys play the course at 6,946 yards but this is not encouraged among vacationers so those tees usually stay in the shed).But first the women invited their fourth to join them at the "one stars," a setup that plays 5,231 yards. Much to the surprise of me, Northstar communications manager Kirstin Cattell and retail manager Mary Ann Taylor, assistant pro Dane Olah (shown flexing at right) accepted without hesitation. Olah, a big-hitting 24-year-old who sports a plus-1 handicap, twice had eagle putts on par-5s, nearly drove several par 4s and birdied six holes.
Best of all, the four of us had a blast chatting together at the tee boxes -- and we of the weaker sex even got a kick out of watching Olah hit 9-iron on holes where we were teeing off with driver.
"I had a great time with you guys," Olah said afterward, "and golf is more enjoyable when you're scoring better and you aren't spending half your time in the woods."
It was funny to hear this from a plus-1 when my next stop on my eight-day golf odyssey would be to join up with the Golf the High Sierra Media Tour. Organized annually by Phil Weidinger, a pretty big hitter himself, and hosted by many of the courses, lodging properties and restaurants in the Tahoe-Truckee-Reno-Carson region, the tour draws more than a few golf writers who insist on playing the back tees because they "want to play the whole course." They play the whole course, all right, including woods, rivers and streams.
Olah usually plays those tournament tees at Northstar and envisions PGA Tour players making the shots he's attempting. But he thinks it's crazy for hackers to play from tees that don't suit their games. By Olah's estimation, the 8-10 handicapper can play the longest tees, and each 8-to-10 strokes added to the handicap should advance the player one set of tees. So the 25 handicapper who doesn't usually break 100 ought to play from the forward tees if there are only three sets.
Well, you know, those are often referred to as the "ladies tees."
"Like anything else," Olah said, "you tell a guy to do something the way that women do it, they don't want to."
"It's the stigma," Taylor said, nodding.
"It's lame," Olah said. "And the thing is, moving up doesn't necessarily make the course easier. It's a better test of the short game."
His, he says, needs work, which was one reason he didn't hesitate to move up. Another reason: women playing business golf know that if they're with three men playing from the members tees, they ought to join the men there so they're not left out of the conversation. It stands to reason that the man playing business golf with three women might be smart to play a shorter course.
I doubt that scenario will repeat tomorrow, when there are 36 holes on tap -- 18 at Genoa Lakes followed by 18 at Edgewood. If the fellows are playing the member/white tees, maybe I'll join them. But I have a feeling they'll be way back there, "playing the whole course," and I will happily move on up.