For most of 2023, I harangued any golfer in my presence about which tee boxes to play for maximum competitiveness – and fun. My point was that course ratings and slope ratings are meaningless as signposts for what tees many aging golfer whose days of 200+ yards are behind them. The overriding consideration about what tee boxes to play should be how far a golfer hits his (or her) best tee shots on par 4 holes. My best drives on 350-yard holes leave me typically with a 7-wood approach shot – a 5-wood if the wind is blowing in. If I strike it perfectly, I have a long-odds chance of making it to the green. Meanwhile, the younger, stronger and more flexible “kids” in my group are playing from tees 50 yards behind me and hitting their drives at least a few yards beyond mine. Even if we have the same distance to the green, I will be hitting, say, a 6 iron; they will be hitting an 8- or 9-iron. Advice: Don’t ever get snookered into a match in which the difference between your distance and theirs off the tee is the only handicap accommodation. Argue for some strokes as well.

My cause celebre about tee boxes was put to the test on a recent Saturday in Vero Beach, FL when my son Tim, who lives there, invited me to participate in the Saturday “Blitz” at the 36-hole Sandridge Golf Club, the county course 20 minutes from his home. For the Blitz, you throw $35 into the pot – that includes green fees and cart, a great bargain – and the winners are those who put up the best scores against their handicaps, using a Stableford-like point system. For extra measure, there is also a skins game. If few (or no) birdies or eagles are made and skins are carried over, the payoff for the one or two players who win them can be considerable.

SandridgeDunesfor GCR on tee boxesThere is just enough sand and water on the Dunes course at Sandridge Golf Club in Vero Beach to make things difficult if you play the wrong tees.  This is the par 4 5th hole, which played to just 230 yards.

The organizers of the event permit double-digit handicap players who are older than 70 – I am a 75-year-old carrying a 12 handicap – to play the “Green” tees at a total distance of 5,064 yards. My younger foursome partners played the Blue tees at 6,200 yards. Only one par 4 on the Dunes Course extended beyond 350 yards from my tees, at 362. (That hole played 39 yards longer for the rest of the foursome.)

My other par 4 holes ranged between 230 yards and 310 yards. On only one hole, that 230-yard hole for me, were the Blue tees more than 100 yards behind mine. On that hole, as I recall, my son’s drive and mine were pretty much side by side, with wedge approaches for both of us. I had a good day driving the golf ball between 180 and 195 yards thanks to some firm fairways and straight drives. Off the tee, I was in range in the fairways of the other members of the foursome. Even though they were hitting two or three clubs less on most of their approach shots, I felt competitive.

And I was. Tee to green I played one of my best rounds of the year, shot a 79 and beat my nearest competitor in the field of 14 by two strokes. I even picked up a skin (with a birdie on a par 3) and was the big winner of the day. Having reasonable distances from fairway to green gave me confidence that I could play with my younger and stronger competitors. So, my strong advice is this: Try moving up a tee box or two if your playing partners are busting their tee balls well past yours. I can almost guarantee you will enjoy the 19th hole better than usual.

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Every day, it seems, some mainstream media article cites how difficult it is to find reasonably priced homes for sale. Some blame cash-bearing Baby Boomer purchasers for the inability of young and first-time home buyers to enter the real estate market. Forget that interest rates, although moderating, are still an obstacle to young purchasers. But the biggest problem, especially in popular golf communities, are inventory levels, many at historic lows, and for that Baby Boomers may have a role. Nevertheless, there are some reasonably priced homes available for purchase in high-quality golf communities. Using as a source, I scanned current homes for sale in some of my favorite golf communities and found some price ranges that will appeal to many potential buyers. Below are a few of them.

Carolina Colours trees sand homeTrees, sand and homes are in harmony along the golf course at Carolina Colours

Carolina Colours in New Bern, NC, features a fine 18-hole semi-private golf course that is reasonably priced for both members and daily fee players and a blend of homes for sale that is atypical of golf communities in the Carolinas. There are a couple of resale homes priced at $500,000 and $700,000 but it was a group of new homes that caught my eye – six of them ranging in price from $356,000 to $366,000 and from 2 BR, 2 BA to 3 BR. They are sited on “patio” lots, less than a quarter-acre, but to me that just means fewer landscaping chores and more time for golf and visits to the historic city of New Bern. This link will take you to all the homes for sale in Carolina Colours, and a couple of home sites as well.

Callawassie approach shot water and sandTom Fazio created 27 holes at Callawassie that put a premium on course manageent -- of sand, trees and water.
It may be tough to spell, but life is easy going at Callawassie Island in Okatie, SC; and the number of homes for sale are surprisingly robust for such a popular and well-located golf community. A reasonable drive from the Bluffton and Hilton Head Island areas, and even closer to the historic and charming town of Beaufort, Callaswassie’s 27-hole Tom Fazio golf course is easy on the eyes and, if you choose the right tee boxes, easy on your game. Homes currently for sale range from $475,000 to $1.8 million, with a dozen nice choices in between. Prefer to build? There are six lots available beginning at just $19,900. Check out all of the Callawassie listings at Click here

There are way more lots for sale than homes at Indian Creek Yacht & Country Club in Kilmarnock, VA. One lot currently for sale at just $84,000 offers a waterfront location “just steps away from the golf course, country club and your boat.” Other lots range in price from just $26,000 in some of the prettiest geography on the east coast, far from urban traffic – Richmond is two hours away – but just a few minutes ride to the Chesapeake Bay. The golf course was designed by the noted architect Tom Clark and much of it plays along water, making it both scenic and challenging, although two sets of hybrid tees among the total of seven tee boxes make choosing a distance to match your game easier. See all the properties for sale at Indian Creek by clicking here

Pawleys 13th from tee 1I liked to brag that Pawleys Plantation's signature par 3 13th hole had a smaller green than #17 at TPC Sawgrass. Not anymore since a recent renovation expanded the green to the right. But with prevailing winds and a narrow landing area front to back, it can still lay claim to being "the shortest par 5 in the Myrtle Beach area."
I own a vacation home in Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, where the 35-year-old Jack Nicklaus golf course was recently recreated – somewhere between a renovation and an updating. The results were excellent and should appeal especially to those of us whose games do not feature outstanding sand play. In any case, the number of Pawleys properties for sale had fallen under the 10 mark from the time of the pandemic to now but have squeaked above that level. The community is a balanced mix of single-family homes, condo/townhouses and an ever-dwindling number of lots available – just two at the moment. Two townhouses in the Weehawka Woods section, which abut two holes on the course, have come on the market recently priced in the low-to-mid $300s. They are especially suited to those couples or families who intend to spend a few weeks per year at Pawleys and generate rental income the rest of the year. Click here for links to all Pawleys Plantation properties for sale now.