Should You Use a Tee When Hitting an Iron?

The sport of golf’s popularity has only increased, and it’s estimated that 24.8 million people in the United States played golf in 2020. That number is up by 2% from last year, which means more people pick up the sport each year.

With all of these new golfers, it’s imperative to talk about the fundamentals of the sport. While it’s subject to debate, the topic of teeing up your ball comes up often. More specifically, should you use a tee when hitting an iron? Read further to determine if this method is suitable for your golfing game.

How to Hit Irons Off the Tee

It’s common to hit your shots off the tee, and in most cases, it will provide you with the best results. So when considering the course you are playing on, especially par 3 courses, hitting irons off the tee in the tee box should be your go-to.

It may be a complex technique to learn at first if you’re not used to it, but golf instructor Erika Larkin breaks down the process into these essential parts:

  • Use a low tee – When teeing from the tee box, she recommends using a shorter tee. This should place the ball at the appropriate height to maximize control and predictability. Ideally, the ball will be located just above the blades of grass.
  • Find a level setup – It’s often overlooked, but finding an even lie in the tee box is significant but not always possible. It’s your job to find the best spot that provides you and the tee with level ground.
  • Set the clubface – With your tee set low, you should be able to hit this sweet spot each time you swing. This spot is on the face for most irons, a bit lower on the front, and directly in the center. If your tee is not setting the ball in this sweet spot, practice your tee and adjust accordingly.
  • Use a starter swing – Now that you have accounted for your variables, it’s time to perform your starter swing. This should reveal any issues with your low tee, setup, and sweet spot.
  • Hit the ball with a smooth tempo – Trust your instincts and the process. Don’t try to overcorrect or do more with your swing. Instead, use a balanced swing and relax. This should place you in a great spot on a par-3 course.

Essentially, if you follow these steps and practice this process consistently, you will see an improvement in your golf game. While practicing, you should focus on your stance, mainly widening it if necessary. Don’t focus on your backswing; and instead, make sure you are making even contact.

All these tips work no matter what tee you are playing, white tee or blue tee or red.  All good tips!

Let the iron do the work for you, not the other way around.

Should You Use a Tee With an Iron?

The short answer is yes, but let’s expand on that. Most golfers know this, but new golfers may not realize that you can only tee up in the tee box or once per hole. Fairway tees are not allowed. Your typical golf course is par-5, par-4, and par-3, which means that you want to use whatever advantage you have when possible.

hitting an iron off the tee

However, let’s say that you consistently use a driver in the tee box, and it has given you great results in the past. Although, drivers may not work well when limiting distance becomes necessary to avoid treacherous bunkers or deep fescue.

Drivers could also be considered aggressive, especially on a par-3 course; bold is not always better. This is more apparent in shorter par-3 courses; therefore, using an iron might sacrifice longer distances and be less aggressive but still work best.

Using a tee also eliminates potential contact with grass, morning dew, or even creating divots in front of the ball instead of after it. Remember, you want to hit the ball within the sweet spot of the iron. Like Jack Nicklaus, the retired pro, once said, “I found out long ago that air offers less resistance than dirt.”

teeing off with irons

Using a tee with an iron will give you more control over the direction and distance the ball travels. When grass or other factors impede contact with the ball, there is less backspin and less predictability. Golf is a game of proximity; the closer you are to the hole, the lower your expected score.

How High Should You Tee Your Ball?

While golf is a game of proximity, how someone plays golf is a matter of preference. However, there is some general knowledge behind the principles that some golfers use. For example, many golfers would say that you can create the perfect lie for your ball by teeing at the tee box.

Ideally, a good rule of thumb is to set your tee ¾” to ¼” above the ground. At these heights, you will get two different results when using your iron. While teeing higher is akin to using a driver, teeing lower most likely works better for irons. Here’s why:

  • The ¼” setting will keep your shot level and in the sweet spot. But, again, using impact tape in practice may help you zero in on this ideal setting.
  • You will create loft or height in your shot on the ¾” setting, thereby reducing the distance your ball will travel. In other words, you are sweeping up on your shot rather than striking it level to cover more distance. Although, if more height is desired, then this tee height will work well.

To Tee or Not To Tee

Golf is a game of strokes, and those who complete the course in the least amount of strokes will be more successful. Teeing up your ball with iron is common practice for newcomers and experienced players, especially in par-3 courses. Simply put, teeing up when hitting with an iron allows you to be versatile and have more control over your ball’s direction and behavior, thus giving you an advantage.

While it is not definitive, teeing up when hitting an iron is ideal for starting each hole. It should go without saying that consistent practice with this technique will go a long way in improving your scores.

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