|In the old days, actually not so long ago, those tee boxes at the bottom of the picture were gender specific.|
Over at Open Tabernacle there's a somewhat testy conversation going on as to whether gender is a biological fact or influenced by culture. It's actually both. Culture works to put serious restrictions on both sexes and this usually has very little to do with biological reality. I used to see this play out all the time on golf courses. In golf, ideas of gender appropriateness really effected men as much as women, but men didn't see it. Of course.
When I started playing golf back in the late seventies, there weren't very many women playing the game relative to the numbers of men. Most women who did play only took up the game as another way to socialize with their husbands. The first teaching pro I ever worked with absolutely forbid me to play with women, except on women's day, because he thought it would ruin my progress in the sport. I thought it was kind of strange there was such a thing as 'women's day'. I learned very fast how much sexism there was in golf. I can remember being asked to join a local country club only to find out there were days and times women were not even allowed on the course, including Saturday. It didn't make a great deal of sense to me to pay through the nose to join a club which discriminated against me simply for being a woman, not how I could or could not play the game.
Anyway, I played a lot with men and the first thing I learned was the various ways one could make or lose money playing golf. It was called betting and there were seemingly an unlimited number of ways to do it and that handicap was critical in determining a fair competition. It always kind of amazed me how a person's betting handicap was frequently lower than their tournament handicap. I learned that was due to something called 'sandbagging'.
Any way, being a woman, I started play from the 'women's tees', until I hit my first drive and then the haggling would begin. I was told to move back to the men's tees otherwise I had an unfair advantage. I would suggest to my partners they move up to the red tees and try playing the course from the red tees. In my thirty some years of playing golf I only ran into two men who took up that challenge, and both of them were working towards their PGA cards. They understood that playing the course from different tees changed one's strategic approach to the game, not the level of their testosterone. For these guys tee boxes were just different starting points that called for different shots to get to the same end. For every other male they seemed to be a hardwired definition of gender. Men did not play from the red tees and some went so far as to force their young sons to play from the white or blue tees just because they were boys. I have no idea how many young boys quit the game because they didn't have the necessary striking power to play from the whites. The whole thing drove me crazy.
But just around the time that Tiger Woods started to hit the scene, the USGA started pushing a novel concept. The various color of tee boxes had nothing to do with gender. They had everything to do with striking power and ability---and the more difficult courses started enforcing handicap rules with regards to tee boxes. One did not play the back tees if one did not have a sub five handicap. Tiger brought such a huge influx of new golfers, that this became mandatory to keep speed of play reasonable.
The old language dies hard. Too many golfers still refer to the various tees as women's and men's instead of front, middle, back and really way back--or red, white, blue, and black tees. It is slowly changing, and it's sort of gratifying to me to actually see not only good women golfers playing the white and blue tees, but men playing the reds. When I see men play the reds that's when I know 'we've come along way baby'.
One last thought, golf didn't fall apart and cease to be golf because women play white and blue tees, and men occasionally play the red tees. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere for the Roman Catholic Church.