For L.A. area course, less yardage is generating more buzz-and biz
The Game – by John Strege
The male ego famously objects to asking for directions, even on a golf course. Ever heard of men asking where the forward tees are?
Most prefer to play it back, notwithstanding the penalty for machismo-higher scores and heightened misery, which golf’s powers-that-be have identified as contributing to the malaise stunting the growth of a game deemed too hard. Tee It Forward, the USGA and PGA of America beseech us, titleing a campaign to erase the stigma attached to doing so.
Last year, Tierra Rejada GC in Moorpark, Calif., northwest of Los Angeles, independently devised a novel way of eliminating the stigma associated with playing the forward tees: It painted them white.
“Men are men,” Tierra Rejada’s owner Ted Kruger said, lamenting their inherent stubbornness.
“The white tees are universally accepted as the men’s course.”
Tierra Rejada now plays 5,600 yards from the white tees, which it calls the Players course. It was developed, Kruger said, “to put the fun back into golf.”
It has not gone unnoticed, either. Last week a CBS film crew was there taping a segment for a PGA of
America special on Golf 2.0 (its initiative to grow the game) to be hosted by Gary McCord and air April 29.
Tierra Rejada has become the embodiment of the Tee It Forward movement.
The idea evolved from a lunch conversation Kruger had with a friend, Walter Rosenthal, the former chairman and CEO of the Bobby Jones Golf Company. “We started shooting the breeze about what’s going wrong with the golf industry,” Rosenthal said. “We knew the population of golfers was dwindling and may be dwindling faster than anyone believes. There are too darn many courses that are too difficult to play. People are leaving the game.”
They calculated the frustration from double bogeys compounded by five-hour rounds. The answer came back to them in the form a question:
How do we put the fun back in golf?
Thus the Players course was born, first with green tees.
“We already had white tees,” Kruger said. “Two or three months later, we thought, ‘What if we changed the green tees and called them the white tees? Maybe that would be easier for the guys to play.’ “
Now they can channel their inner Bubba and go for the par 5s in two. None of the four is longer than 511 yards and the shortest is 445 yards. The longest par 4 is 375 yards.
“We’re really promoting it: ‘Tierra Rejada, home of the Players course,’ ” Kruger said. “We’ve definitely seen play increase and have to conclude part of it is that there’s a buzz about the Players. In August alone we had a thousand rounds on the Players course, and ours is a 40,000-round course.”
Kruger tells of a foursome that came into the pro shop after a round on the Players course. They were asked if they enjoyed their day. “They said that a few years ago they stopped coming here,” Kruger recalled. “They thought it was too difficult. ‘But we’re back,’ they said.
“We declare it a success already, in its infancy,” Kruger continued. “There’s not a line of cars, but I know from all the feedback that it’s a popular addition. We’re not geniuses, just two guys who came up with this idea. Then on the national level they came up with the Tee it Forward program. We’re holding down the fort out here on a similar path. We think it’s the right thing to do.”
What became of Tierra Rejada’s old white tees, meanwhile?
“We repainted them burgundy,” Kruger said, keeping in mind the male ego. “We couldn’t paint them red.” GW