Jim Ferree knows senior golf. He was one of the early stars on the Senior PGA Tour, which began in 1980 and today is known as the Champions Tour. In fact, his stylish golf swing so impressed former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman that, when he wanted a new and distinctive logo for the fledgling tour for 50-and-older players, it was Ferree’s knickers-clad silhouette that was selected.
Of course, “senior golf” for the North Carolina native and Hilton Head resident since 1966, isn’t exactly what amateurs and weekend players experience. “I didn’t quit playing the championship tees until I was 75,” says Ferree, who turns 83 in July 2014 and credits his lengthy career to good family genes and a passion for practicing and competing.
Still, he knows the game well to know what works for older players.
“If you’re going to have forced carries, they need to be short ones,” Ferree says. “You want senior tees to be short enough (length of the hole) so if you’re playing half-decent, you can get there (reach the green in regulation.” Open fronts to greens that allow low shots to run onto the putting surface are also important, he says.
Here are three of Ferree’s favorite South Carolina courses for seniors:
Country Club of Charleston: “It’s got wide fairways and they’re kept cut short so you can get roll, and the greens are open in front. Many of the traps are 25 yards or more short of the green and on the sides. It’s a wonderful course for seniors.”
Long Cove Club, Hilton Head: “It’s got to be good for seniors because Alice Dye (wife of designer Pete Dye) had so much to do with where the ladies hit from; for them, there’s not a single forced carry, and the seniors’ only one is a short one. That’s No. 13 (par-3); it’s 70 yards for the ladies and probably 100 for the seniors, so it doesn’t require a great shot to get there.” (Note: Ferree is former director of golf at Long Cove and lives in the development)
Yeamans Hall, Hanahan: “It’s a good one for seniors because their tees are short enough that you can get (to the green), but then it’s still a challenge. A lot of seniors can still play really well but they just aren’t long (off the tee) anymore. I like courses that let seniors make some pars, so you can be a 17-handicap and sometimes shoot 80. And if you make a birdie, you walk to the next hole feeling like you’re 18 again.”