The Players Course at the Los Angeles-area club now plays 5,600 yards from the white tees.
Last year Tierra Rejada Golf Club 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 told Golf Digest Canada, 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. Recently, 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 told Golf Digest Canada. “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.’ ”
None of the four par 5s 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 Golf Digest Canada 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.