After intensive and extensive research, I now fully understand why women who play golf love it so much.

They get to play from the red tees.

I have known about this for quite some time, of course, but I experienced the phenomenon for myself recently, joining a trio of women for a round at Birkdale Golf Club, a nice and busy public track near Charlotte, North Carolina.

This was an investigative outing. Having learned about investigative journalism in college and at the desks of some of the best at the art, I had my questions ready.

First, I wanted to know what it was like to hit a shot from the red tees (other than the occasional second shots I’ve hit from the red tees when I dribble my drive off the white or gold tees). Second, I wanted to know how women play golf together. Different from guys? Do they cuss? Do they smoke cigars? Do they gamble? Do they chase lost balls deep into the woods and hold up the foursome behind them? Do they laugh uproariously when others in the group miss a two-foot putt or shank a 7-iron? Do they jiggle car keys in their pockets or suddenly cough loudly when other players are putting?

The answers, at least from my small sample size, are mostly  “No.”

Valerie, a middle school science teacher; Karen, a health care program manager; and Lisa, a retired vice president of a health care company, play golf about once a week in the Charlotte area.

They don’t walk to the first tee in anger. They don’t appear to approach the game with a “win at all costs” attitude. No $20 bills have been placed in a pre-round pool for greenies or closest to the pin or any of the typical nonsense many male golf groups choose to engage in.

So here we go. I graciously agreed to play from the red tees with them so that we won’t have to stop at the white tees on every hole and thus disrupt the pace of play. I am nice like that.

The women, especially Valerie, have smooth swings. Their drives sail off from the reds, mostly into the heart of the fairway. They’re not going to challenge Bryson DeChambeau for distance, but then few of us will.

They don’t spend a lot of time sizing up putts. It’s mostly about addressing the ball and pushing it toward the hole. Some are good. Some are bad. Some lip out.

Their round is more about encouraging each other than kicking each other into the turf. Good shots are greeted with wows and “Nice shot!” Bad shots are mostly ignored, like yesterday’s pizza.

It’s a reasonably warm day in Charlotte, but they don’t sweat. It might be true that women glisten. No clubs are thrown; no scorecards are ripped in half.

It’s about the fun. The only concern – a minor one — expressed during the day is about wearing a golf glove on one hand and fretting about the possibility of the other hand picking up a different tan. Could be a tan imbalance, for sure.

But this is a minor worry. Hey, they play from the red tees.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.