Although a senior can be defined in different ways, for PGA tour, 55 years is the entry-level age to play senior tees, whereas 70 years is the benchmark age. This age rule is applied in some golf clubs. Which is helpful when trying to understand at what age should you play the senior tees. However, the new handicap index system has diminished the age criterion, allowing every golfer to play the senior tees regardless of age or gender.
Today, there’s no set age for a golfer to start playing the senior tee or decide which tee to play but the handicap and the driving distance. For example, a pro golfer who plays with the back/Champions tee (0 to 7.0 handicaps) cannot switch to senior tees in a competition. Otherwise, it would be unfair.
To explain it further, let’s discuss what tees are and the age rule concerning playing the senior tees in golf.
What are Senior Tees?
The tee is that small wooden device, usually colored, that is nailed into the grass, and that serves as a base to place the ball high on the ground. With this, you are able to hit the ball from the bottom up in the long strokes.
You can find long, short, and medium tees in different colors that correspond to the level of your play. Your level improves with the time that determines which set of tees you should use. Golf courses tend to have 3 to 5 sets of tee options, usually following a color system. The basic three sets are the back (black), the middle (white) and the front (red) tees for pro, average and amateur golfers, respectively. These colors correspond to the different yardages, with the back being the most distant from the green and the front the shortest. Thus, it is now the driving distance that determines which tee a golfer should play with.
In the three sets of options (black, white and red), it is easy for you to make a decision:
- Back Tees/Championship/black: these are for pro golfers, mostly men, with the lower handicaps.
- Middle Tees/Good Golfers/white: These are for average male golfers with middle to higher handicaps and for seniors and women with low-handicap and long-hitting skills.
- Forward tees/red: These are for beginners of all types and seniors, and women with middle and high handicaps.
Thus, a senior tee is somewhat between the middle and the forward tee. The above criteria make it easier for you to decide whether to play with a senior tee or not. Sometimes, there are more than these three sets, where they have Champion (black), Middle (blue), Seniors (White) and Forward (red, green or yellow) tees.
How to Choose the Tee When There are More than Three Sets?
More than three sets of tees make it difficult for a golfer to decide which tee to play. But you can do this by considering the yards from which the professionals play.
The average field length on the PGA Tour is between 7,200 and 7,300 yards; it is 6,200 and 6,600 yards on the LPGA Tour, and 6,500 to 6,800 yards on the Champions Tour (+50 years).
A low handicap or a pro golfer can feel free to play from the back tees. Women and seniors with low handicaps can play with the set of tees that are 250 and 500 yards less than the LPGA and Champions touring averages, respectively. The distance decreases as the handicap increases. For example, an average intermediate handicap golfer should go for the set of tees placed around 500-1,000 yards less than pros, whereas, for high-handicap players, the right tees are 1,000 to 1,500 yards less than pros.
Many beginners try to play from white or blue tees, and no rules stop them from doing it. But, they should only go for the furthest tees if they are sure that they can hit the ball with at least a little precision. The rule of thumb is that if you have a problem reaching the green on a par 3, or from 2 to par 4, do not play tees that are too long and go for a shorter and easy one. Don’t be guilty. In addition, playing from the furthest can result in frustration and slow play.
At What Age Should You Play the Senior Tees?
The entry-level age to play senior tees is 55 years, and the benchmark age is 70 years. Moving up or making a leap on the golf course may be one of the most intimidating factors, especially when you have no idea which tee to start playing. Initially, the age rule determined the start option for golfers when they move from the practicing area to the real golf course. Today, a golfer’s playing skills decide from which tee they wish to play, and no rule determines a player’s starting base.
Golfers from 0 (scratch golfers) to 7.9 handicaps fall in Category A and usually play blue, gold or black; those with handicaps over 8.0 play from Senior (white) and beginners with a high handicap from a forward tee (green or yellow). The idea is to become color blind to determine which tee to start from. Many fields do not have these color combinations but use thematic names for tees.
Now players can switch to senior tees any time they want but based on their handicap and the driving distance. But, can a player move up to senior tee from a back tee and compete against someone with a higher handicap in a competition?
The answer is ‘NO.’ This would clearly result in unfair competition. A professional player who plays the back (black, blue or gold) tee has a comparative advantage against a player with a higher handicap player with a senior (white) tee. However, a player can switch from front (red) tees to senior tees if they’re sure they can hit the ball from a farther distance.
We hope this article has cleared your doubts about what age is suitable for playing senior tees. As stated earlier the entry-level age to play senior tees is 55 years, and the benchmark age is 70 years. However, it can vary since age is no more a criterion to decide which tee you should play with but the playing skills. Your handicap and the driving distance determine whether you can play with the senior tees or not. You cannot switch to senior tees during competitions if you’re a pro, regardless of your age or gender. Do not forget to share this information with your fellow golfers, and let us know if this information worked.