Traditionally, kids have had to play tee shots from various parts of golf courses.
Some courses have them playing from the red tees, some from the yellows and some allow the smaller players to play from 150 yard markers.
There is no set standard from one course to another.
England Golf don’t really have any instruction on where this should be and that may be because, just as each course is different, so is each junior or group of juniors.
One good thing now is that we no longer refer to red tees and ‘Ladies’ Tees’ or White tees as ‘Men’s Tees’ we should just refer to them by their colour. This takes away any stigma of young boys playing from red tees.
As a Junior Organiser at my own golf course I play the junior 18 hole competitions the same way an adult mixed competition would be played. That is to say that the boys play from the white tees and the girls from the red tees.If your juniors are competent and you have enough to run full competitions the this is the way to go.
Many golf clubs don’t have enough juniors to be able to play them all from the full length tees, this is where an organiser needs to be more imaginative.
If you’re lucky you’ll have enough older juniors to play in the full 18 hole competition and then you can run a smaller one for those who may not be able to play the whole course.
Make golf as simple as possible to start
The worst thing you can do is to make a new or younger golfer play from tees that clearly make every hole too long. That is to say that it takes them 5 or more shots to reach the green on an average par 4 hole. This will only serve to break their spirit and they’ll quickly get fed up with the game.
There is also a school of thought that up to a certain age, boys and girls are roughly as strong as each other and should therefore play from the same tees. This is usually the case for the smaller ones.
I have seen 12 year old boys playing in the same competition as 18 year old girls only to find that the girls have over 700 yards advantage as they play from Red tees. More often than not they also have a shot or two adjustment in their favour on the final stroke play scores.
It is difficult to manage the expectations of the younger ones in these circumstances. It may well be prudent to have all of the juniors under 14 yrs to play from the same tees and allow any older than that to compete in the more traditional way.
There are plenty of Junior Golf Tours out there in the UK that are lucky enough (after years of hard work and promotion) to have enough competitors to have age group categories as well as separate one for boys and girls.
The older the junior golfer the longer the course is that they play on until they get to an open age category which is usually around 14 or 15.
If you’re not a member of a golf club then choosing one of these Tours is a great idea to get regular competition golf. You could even do so if you are a member but just want the opportunity to compete against others and play at different courses.
One of the biggest tours in the UK for this is one called the British Junior Golf Tour https://juniorgolftour.co.uk/ They have a competition almost every week of the season and they usually hold a 3 day summer event which is a great way to meet other parents and the kids have a great time playing with kids from different parts of the country. The only slight downside to this tour is that most of their events are in the southern half of the country.
US Kids Golf have developed what they think is the perfect way to stagger tee boxes for kids golf. They call it the ‘Longleaf’ system and it can be found here. If you have a golf club willing to lay out new tees then this is the perfect way to attract junior members. http://www.longleafgfc.com/longleaf-tee-system/longleaf-tee-system-executive-summary
At their home club in the United States they have added quite number of extra tees to accommodate all of the sizes of golf clubs that they sell. This is after all their target market. Here you can pick and choose some or even just one of the distances for each hole and see if your golf club will create tees from those distances to accommodate juniors.
This is what I did at my home course at Grange Park GC in St Helens. I worked out a reasonable distance for a 12 year old to be able to hit a Green in 2 shots and that was a distance for a par 4. I chose distances for them to be able to hit an iron into a green for the par 3s and then used the same principle for the par 5s.
This created an 18 hole par 72 golf course with a standard scratch score of 61. Based on an average of 220 yards for a par 4, a junior of around 12 yrs old should be able to hit their tee shot around 150 yards leaving an iron shot into the green. Here you can see the scorecard I created with some longer and some shorter like all golf courses. I was lucky enough that my golf club decided to invest in permanent tee markers which made this course a great feature. I decided that any kids able to hit the ball longer could progress to red, yellow or white tees and any smaller / younger players could use play a few holes from a distance decided by their organiser on that day. After all the smaller ones will only be playing a few holes.
If your club has any kind of cadet membership, i.e. very young beginners the course could always utilise the practice ground to formulate 3 short pitch and put holes which will add competition from an early age without it seeming like a chore to walk those huge distances.
What is crucially important for junior golfers is to get them from lessons or from the Driving Range and onto the golf course as soon as they feel confident to do so. They need to see that hitting a ball on a practice ground or driving range has an ultimate purpose. This can be done by introducing them to playing 2 or 3 short holes and gradually building it up to playing more or longer holes. It has to be done in a fun way where some of the more obvious rules and etiquette can start to be introduced.