Whether you’re a golf pro or amateur, you’re going to want to get the best advantage possible when starting your game and figuring out which tees to play is a pressing concern for many players. There is no hard and fast rule to help golfers understand where they’re supposed to start but using different methods for selecting a tee box can set you up for the entire game.
With more golf courses adding additional tee boxes to enhance player enjoyment, it would be beneficial to understand what a tee box is and determine the right option to play if you’re looking for the most enjoyable round.
Table of Contents
- Type of Tees
- Color Coding
- Selecting the Right Tee Box
- Professional vs Amateur Golfers
As a standard, the different sets of tees on golf courses include the forward, middle, and back or championship tees, even if they have more than three tee boxes. The tee box denotations are determined by different tee distance yardages corresponding to the golfers’ playing abilities.
The forward tees have the shortest distance to the hole, while the back tees provide the longest distance. Scorecards usually include yardages according to color-coding to help players select their starting point. Through practice, deciding the tee box becomes easier as if you feel like you are unable to reach three or four-par holes with a given number of shots, it would be better to move to the shorter set of tees.
Golf tees are color-coded to indicate the distance to the hole on a course. The tee colors are also unofficially associated with a specific age or gender that might limit some players. Golf tee colors are usually common between different courses, especially white, blue and red tees. Other courses choose to include different colors, and the color-coded system depends on player handicaps in golf. At some you must have wondered what the different color tee boxes mean; the common meanings behind some of the colors are:
This set of tees is commonly associated with female golfers or players who cannot hit a long ball and are unable to drive the ball more than 150 yards. It is a forward tee which makes it ideal for amateur players who have some skills and are willing to improve their game. These red tees can often be called the ladies tees.
This is another common set of tees used by golfers who enjoy casual games, making it perfect for beginners. White tee boxes correspond with men or women with a middle to high handicap who are typically average golfers that can drive the ball between 200 and 250 yards. Often these are referred to as the middle tees, can can also be used by long hitting senior men.
Many amateur players play from these tees, as they closely match the average distance that provides them with an approach shot that is comfortable and the most fun.
These sets of tees are popularly used for club tournaments, but they can be a great option if you want to challenge yourself and add some extra yardage to your play. They can provide an excellent opportunity to learn and hone your skills as they are placed farthest from the hole and, at times, are reserved for players with an extraordinary drive or experienced golfers. If the golf course has gold tees, the blue tees are usually closer to the hole, but they are still extremely difficult to play, making them ideal for competitions and tournaments.
Low handicap men often use these tees, often checking the course rating to know if they should pay here or farther up.
While this is not an option available on all golf courses, this set of tees can be used by men and women who are middle handicap players. There are two purposes of gold tees: they can either be used for senior players if they are placed in the forward position or used for championship players and players blessed with a wicked swing who can play from the back tees.
Black tees are the set of tees normally used for special events such as professional tournaments and club championships and are placed further away from the hole. We recommend staying away from these days if you are a novice and feel your driving distance is not up to the mark just yet.
Professionals play from here, or scratch golfers looking for a challenge away from their home course. This is usually the tee closest to PGA Tour type tee positions.
These tees are used for teaching new players and are located in the front tee area. These tees are quite uncommon on golf courses, but they can be great starting points if they’re offered at your local club. Some golf courses have these as the closest tee and can be used as senior tees.
Senior female players primarily use these tees, and they are often quite rare to find on golf courses. If found, these would be the most forward tees on the golf course to support a short driving distance from these players.
The length of the tee is determined by the distance between the shooting location to the hole. Every person must learn how to walk before they can run, so they should be conscious about playing from a set of tees that are too long, which is a common mistake made by amateur players. If you want to get the best pace for your play, it would be better to evaluate your skillset and use the ideal distance for playing from tees, whether from a forward tee or back position.
Normally a golf course has three sets of tee boxes which are segmented according to player handicaps which includes:
- Championship tees which are normally for low handicap man.
- Middle tees are for middle to high handicap men, low handicap women, and low hitting senior men.
- Forward tees are for middle or high handicap women, men, and seniors. This tee is ideal for new players as well.
A golf course with set of tee boxes having more than three sets of tees make it a little confusing to figure out the ideal spot to play from. A simpler method used by many golf courses is associating different yardages with different sets of tees.
In professional tournaments such as the PGA Tour, the average golf course length is between 7200 and 7300 yards, the LPGA Tour has an average course length between 6200 and 6600 yards, while The Champions Tour for senior pros has an average golf course length between 6,500 and 6,800 yards.
Handicaps can also be used to evaluate yardages on pro tours, specifically for back tees. Low handicap women and seniors should choose the set of tees with the yardage between 250 and 500 yards less than the averages of the LPGA for women and Champions Tours for seniors.
Mid handicappers can choose the set of tees with yardages between 500 and 1000 yards less than the average pro tour standard for their respective gender or age. High handicappers should focus on tees with yardage between 1000 and 1500 yards less than the pro tour averages. Lastly, beginners should focus on using the forward tees until they work on their accuracy and consistency.
The PGA and USGA issued a set of tees recommendations in 2011 to provide golfers with a better idea about playing from their average drives and yardage. The table below can help golfers determine if their average driving distance in line with their correct tees, to ensure they are using the appropriate tees.
|Average drive||Recommended Tees|
|300 yards||7,150-7,400 yards|
|275 yards||6,700-6,900 yards|
|250 yards||6,200-6,400 yards|
|225 yards||5,800-6,000 yards|
|200 yards||5,200-5,400 yards|
|175 yards||4,400-4,600 yards|
|150 yards||3,500-3,700 yards|
|125 yards||2,800-3,000 yards|
|100 yards||2,100-2,300 yards|
It might be tempting for players to play from a set of tees at a larger distance than the driving average, but they are essentially slowing down their game and increasing their score. Golfing bodies such as the USGA have an initiative called “Tee it Forward,” which encourages players to use the recommended distances to play tees according to their driving distances.
The distances in the table are determined by looking at players’ average distances with drivers at the starting point for every hole. It would be more beneficial for players to hit sharps at reasonable length as eventually, it will allow your scores to drop, making the game more fun. The standard for determining which tee box to use is whether you can hit your driver less than 200 yards, making the ideal choice the closest tee to the hole. If the driver hits between 200 and 225, use the central tee. Lastly, if you’re hitting more than 275 yards, you should play from the farthest tees.
Another method commonly used to determine the distance and yardage is the 5-iron method developed by Athletic Motion Golf. This method is not entirely accurate, but it can give you a starting point, especially if you’re a beginner. The formula for calculating the ideal course yardage is multiplying the distance you hit using a five iron by 36. The table below shows some common distances that can help you choose a tee box.
|5-iron Distance||Ideal Course Yardage|
Using the right team can elevate your game and skills. If you’re a professional player, you’re more likely to have consistent and accurate shots, so you can opt for back tees to provide enough of a challenge for you to enjoy the game. It also makes more sense for a professional player to opt to play from the tips, which is the farthest tee on a golf course, and it usually covers the entire distance of the course.
However, if you are an amateur, your shots are more likely to be less consistent in distance and angles. Therefore, amateur players are better off playing closer to the tee until they become consistent in play and cover as much distance as possible.
Ultimately different players can use determine the correct distance and the box to play from. Several different factors are included in the decision process, such as age, gender, and handicap, but at the end of the day, golfers should play the tee box they are comfortable with as it is important to stay motivated throughout the game and how you start each golf game is very important to your eventual scores.