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The cold, hard truth about granite tee markers

By Katharine Dyson, Special Contributor

My home golf course is cut through tall stands of trees, a woodsy place with lakes, hills and wetlands. In the fall, the brilliant colored trees set fire to the senses. Natural. The yardage markers are low-key, attractive wood signs - or were until recently.

Dear golf courses: Please, no polished granite.
GravestoneCaptains Golf CoursesHappy BuddahTimberStone at Pine MountainPrimland - Highland Golf CourseDogwoods Golf Course

The other day when our weekly foursome teed off, we noticed something new on the first tee: a polished, gray tombstone-like slab of granite planted upright in the ground near the ball washer. Nearby was another addition to the landscape, a granite bench to match.

Had some good old boy died and been planted here according to his last wishes? ("Ah me laddies, just bury me under that old oak tree on the first tee, and drink a pint or two to me memory.") If so, I can respect that.

But, upon closer look, we discovered the stone was engraved with a diagram, not an epitaph, unless, "What is flog spelled backwards?" counts. There was an engraved map of the first hole and below that, an advertisement for Cooke's Rescue Insurance Company. At the bottom was the "golf/flog" thing.

What had happened to the warm and friendly hanging wood sign that used to be here, we wondered?

As we continued our round, each hole was marked by another granite slab. Ugly as hell. We all agreed on that. At least Molly, Maria, Peggy and I agreed. "Who came up with this idea? What were they thinking?" asked Molly.

"The men's committee are in charge of this stuff," said Peggy.

"I'll get to the bottom of this," I promised.

So after our game I called my friend Brian, the president of the men's group.

"What's the story on those tombstones?" I asked.

"What are you talking about?" said Brian.

"You know, those new hole markers."

"Yeah. I knew you'd love 'em. Aren't they great? They'll last forever!"

"Uh huh. What happened to the wood ones?'

"They were falling apart. We needed to replace them. Aren't they great?"

"Sure," I said in a cowardly fashion, hanging up before I said something nasty like, "Just because they'll last until Hell freezes over (my mom's favorite saying), doesn't mean they work here."

Since then we have discovered that on cold days, the polished, shiny benches are coated with a fine sheen of mist that dampens your pants. And on hot days, you can burn your legs. These are the kind of benches that were meant for cemeteries and places where people expect to be miserable when sitting down.

Birds though seem to find them particularly enticing targets.

And as for the slab markers, apparently some of the advertisers have pulled out of the program, and there is a scarred rectangle where the advertisement was removed.

I'd like to meet the salesperson who sold our hard-working golf committee on the idea. I can see how the conversation went:

"Yes. We're looking for something sturdy. Weather resistant. We don't want to go through this exercise every year."

"Hmmm. I have this cousin. He works for Granite for Life and Beyond. Maybe he can come up with something."

"Perfect. Let's get him in here."

So Sam the salesman shows up with samples of granite: brown, gray, flecked, streaky. He also has a hand-drawn sketch of a proposed marker.

"Humm," says Ben. "Have any pictures of things you've done for other golf courses?"

"Nope. We've never made anything like this before. Most of our work is for, well, gravestones."


"But," says Sam. "You will be starting a new trend. You'll never have to replace them. Ever. These are great. We can even engrave them with a layout of each hole. Ya, di, ya di, yada."

"What about the costs?"

"If you amortize each marker over a 100-year period, it will cost mere pennies per day. We suggest you get local companies to advertise. Why, you may not have to come up with a red cent. We can leave a space for them to attach a plaque."

"Sounds good to me."

"So, what do you think, guys?"

"Handsome. Maybe we should think about matching benches."

"Great idea."

"So, Sam, send us a proposal for 18 signs and 18 benches. Peggy will love them. She insisted on granite when we redid our kitchen."

End of story.

Almost. Maybe it's the polished look - I'm okay with course markers like TimberStone at Pine Mountain in Upper Michigan where they use local natural stones sitting on a wood stump and the painted horseshoe motif used on the markers at Williamsburg's Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. The rope-wrapped wharf post holding the signs at the Captain's Courses on Cape Cod also work. But polished granite?

Oh and one more thing: One of the markers is incorrectly engraved, reducing the front tees by 100 yards. But, hey, it's guaranteed to last a lifetime. Maybe for once, it's good there aren't any markers on the forward tees.

And no hard, slippery, clammy, cold, sizzling granite benches, thank you. Still, ball washers would be nice.

Katharine DysonKatharine Dyson, Special Contributor

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Tee Markers

    Mitchel wrote on: Aug 24, 2009

    I'd ask them what they did with the old ones and see if i could grab a couple for lawn ornaments in the back yard (not front, that's just tacky). Different to say the least. Plus, it would be a nice reminder of the good ol days!


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