6 Expert Tips: How to Choose What Tees To Play From and Why It Matters

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How To Choose What Tees To Play From

When beginning a round of golf, one of the first decisions you make is how to choose what tees to play from, considering factors like your consistent use of a 5 iron or your average driver distance. This initial right tee box selection sets the tone and difficulty for the entire golf course, and should not be taken lightly. The tees you elect to play often dictate everything from your scoring potential to the pace of play. Making the right choice based on your skill level and drive distance is crucial.

Table of Contents

When deciding which tees to play from, consider your skill level and distance capabilities to ensure an enjoyable round of golf. Choose tees that match your abilities to enhance your overall experience on the course.


Key Takeaways

Choosing the right tee boxes in golf is essential for an enjoyable and successful round. It can be challenging to make this decision, but it greatly impacts the pace of play and scoring potential.

This article provides valuable guidance on selecting the appropriate tees based on skill level, driving distance, course layout, and scorecard information. It also explores the benefits of teeing it forward and offers strategies for choosing the ideal tee boxes, ensuring a better golfing experience for players of all levels.

So, let’s explore how to make the best tee box choices for your game.

How To Choose What Tees To Play From

how to choose what tees to play from

The tee box you select shapes many aspects of your ensuing golf game:

  • Handicap Differential: Playing tees that are overly long relative to your skill makes it harder to achieve your handicap potential. Conversely, tees that are too short reduce difficulty and handicap accuracy.
  • Scoring/Stats: Your ability to reach greens in regulation, scramble, make greenside shots, and putt effectively depends largely on proper hit the ball techniques and tee selection.
  • Strategy: Deciding between aggressive and defensive lines off tees relies on picking the right set of tees. Tees too far back eliminate many strategic choices by demanding overly long shots just to carry hazards. By playing up tees appropriately, you open up risk/reward options.
  • Enjoyment: Playing frustratingly long tees diminishes fun. Tees aligned properly with your capabilities raise satisfaction and entertainment through more realistic scoring opportunities.

Clearly, dialling in the correct tee box from which you begin has serious implications on central facets of your golf game.

The Importance of Playing the Proper Tees for Pace of Play

Beyond influencing individual performance, the set of tees elected bears immense weight on the single most vital intangible in the game – pace of play. Quite simply, teeing it too far back slows down play excessively.

Golfers playing the wrong tees compounds delay issues severely across an entire facility:

  • By overestimating their ability to hit extremely long forced carries, golfers routinely hit multiple tee shots, losing balls and backing up play.
  • Groups playing excessive yardages take far longer to play each hole, reducing open slots and available tee times.
  • When players pick tees where par 4s and 5s are impossible to reach, endless minutes are lost approaching and putting – directly slowing groups behind them.

The data is clear that playing the suitable tees matching your skills curbs countless minutes of delays and enables proper 4 1⁄2 hour round pacing. Choosing tees thoughtfully preserves pace of play.

Keep Things Moving: Essential Tips for Improving Pace of Play on the Course

Pace of play remains one of the most pressing issues in the game of golf today. Countless minutes are lost each round from groups failing to keep up with the groups ahead of them, or playing painfully slowly. For useful tips and strategies to help keep play moving and maximize enjoyment by finishing your round in under 4 hours, check out this helpful guide on pace of play. Simple measures like being ready to hit your next shot when it’s your turn, not taking too long to search for lost balls, and keeping pre-shot routines brisk can go a long way towards keeping things moving.

Impact on Handicap and Scoring

Posting inaccurate scores by playing the incorrect tees also wreaks havoc on your USGA Handicap Index. By constantly playing yards that are too tough relative to your game, you risk handicap inflation from elevated differentials that overstate your abilities. Such bloated handicaps produce frustration when you cannot replicate those scoring levels on properly aligned courses.

Conversely, exclusively picking forward tee boxes below your competency artificially lowers differentials. Such handicaps then do not represent your true potential, producing anger when you fail to achieve expected scores on appropriately longer layouts.

In both cases, inconsistencies are created between ability and handicap by choosing improper yardages. Aligning your set of tees with skills yields realistic scores and reliable handicapping.

Identifying the Right Set of Tees for Your Skill Level

With handicapping accuracy in the balance, how do you determine the fitting tee box aligned with your current capability? The central factor is dialling in the distance you hit each club cleanly on average – most critically your drives:

Tee ColourApprox. Distance
Championship (Gold/Black)250+ yard drives
Men’s (Blue/White)225-250 yard drives
Senior (Green/Gold)200-225 yard drives
Forward (Red)Under 200 yard drives

These drive distance guidelines help connect tee selection with skills. However, there are further techniques to secure the proper alignment…

Assessing Your Average Drive Distance

Finding your typical driver distance requires data and honesty:

  • Use a launch monitor and GPS to calculate actual carry distances when perfectly struck
  • Determine that average – not focusing on peak outliers skewing perception upward
  • Factor where drives commonly finish – not purely ball flight before ground impact

Once you have that realistic average number, cross reference it with your 5-iron distance as well. Consistency between the two is key in affirming you have identified truthful yardages expected from those clubs.

Locking in these objective metrics guided by integrity is pivotal to picking the right set of tees.

Understanding Handicap and Its Role in Tee Selection

Your USGA Handicap also helps confirm appropriate tees, but should not act as the sole decision maker. Golfers with a Course Handicap exceeding 18 should always elect at minimum the forward tees.

However, low handicappers risk overestimating their ability to handle extremely long yards carrying substantial hazards. A golfer with a 5 Handicap Index likely could choose from multiple tee boxes depending on distance, age and strategic preferences on a given course.

In essence, let your Handicap Index advise generally on tees, while making the final selection grounded in your average shot lengths off the tee and approach clubs.

USGA Recommendations for Tee Selection

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The USGA Handicap manual asserts golfers should choose standard tee boxes based primarily upon driver distances. The guidelines aim to curb slow play and help players maximize enjoyment:

Fairway CarryRecommended Tees
240-260+Black/Gold Tees
220-240 yardsBlue Tees
190-220 yardsWhite Tees
120-150 yardsRed Forward Tees

They also created the “Tee it Forward” program to motivate golfers to play from yardages aligned with their normal shot distances. Doing so promotes realistic scores and speeds up play.

Common Mistakes Golfers Make When Choosing Tees

Despite guidance to select tees using objective data, many golfers make these recurring missteps instead:

Playing Tees That Are Too Long: The Ego Trap

By using the tips traditionally held for professionals or very low handicappers, average players place themselves at a dramatic and needless scoring disadvantage. Spiked egos write checks driving distances simply cannot cash.

The stubborn refusal to play reasonable yardages matching skills helps no one while damaging pace severely. Park the ego and pick tees based on reality.

Ignoring the “Tee It Forward” Initiative

For many male players, playing the blue tees represents some triumphant badge of honor – regardless of actual distances they hit the golf ball. By ignoring the “Tee it Forward” guidance, they slow play, inflate scoring averages and misrepresent handicaps.

Senior golfers also frequently fail to properly transition to shorter tee boxes aligning with age-impacted swing speeds. Again, stubbornness damages their enjoyment while hurting peers. Swallow pride and follow wisdom.

The Dangers of Always Playing the Back Tees

Confusing the Black or Gold tees as defining a course’s championship yardage tempts golfers to tee back excessively. Yet playing 7000+ yards poorly suits most members’ capabilities regardless of handicap or gender.

Routinely selecting those tees ignores the intent of a “combo” or multi-tee system – to provide options catering to all skills. Consistently picking yards too tough damages morale while slowing play dramatically.

How to Approach Tee Selection as a Beginner Golfer

For newcomers, judging the appropriate tee box presents added complexity given their still-developing games. However, applying a structured process when first examining a scorecard simplifies the decision sensibly:

Why Starting from Forward Tees Can Enhance Learning

Playing the front-most red or gold tees enables vital early repetitions and confidence. The shorter distances welcome beginners to apply lessons without brutal punishment. Innate frustration lifts, ensuring eager, fast-paced play even with mistakes.

Gradually mixing in longer par 3s and gentle par 4s introduces complexity prudently as skills grow. Patience playing reasonable lengths counts most.

Tips for Gradually Moving to Longer Tees

As consistent ball-striking evolves with a slow, measured expansion of yardages, beginners reveal the right moment to shuffle back tee colours.

Common triggers to move tees include:

  • Fixed 5-iron distance surpassing 165 yards
  • Comfortably/frequently reaching par 4s in regulation
  • Driver distance topping 180 yards over 40% of drives

Let your improving distances guide next tee decisions through a beginner’s journey to one day tackling championship yards.

Key Metrics Beginners Should Assess Before Choosing a Tee Box

When initially judging appropriate tees, beginners should determine:

  • 7-iron distance: Can you hit irons the minimum needed for most approach shots? If not, play forward tees to sharpen ball-striking through experience without crushing scoring effects.
  • Driver accuracy: Can you hit fairways with drivers routinely? If lots of strokes are wasted hacking from woods, keep tees short enough to use lower clubs off tee boxes.
  • Putting ability: If you 3-putt frequently and struggle judging speeds, minimize approach yardages by playing forward to avoid crushing big numbers. Let skills develop before adding length.

Lean on these tangible metrics rather than preconceived ego to pick the best tees for your current game.

Strategies for Experienced Golfers to Choose the Correct Tee

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While novices should recognize underlying skill limitations guiding tee decisions, experienced players should also apply honest wisdom:

Evaluating Your Driver and 5-Iron Distance

Cross referencing your average and dispersion patterns on two of the most used clubs –driver and 5-iron – syncs tee choice to match reality. Review actual on-course data, not guesses.

  • Driver: Look at typical carry distances and where balls finish– not purely hang time. Be real about mishits dragging down that mean.
  • 5-iron: Given its extensive use on longer par 3s and approach shots, honest distance appraisals prove vital for proper yardages.

Matching these clubs’ distances to tee boxes enhances flow, scoring and satisfaction.

Considering the Course Layout and Your Strategic Approach

Beyond raw distance capabilities, consider the architectural nuances of a specific track when selecting tees.

Certain courses may measure quite short for the blue tees on paper but feature forced carries demanding solid length to challenge risks vs. rewards. Alternately, other long tracks provide preferred angles from forward tees helping limit punitive hazards.

Think contextually about each course’s layout and how your strategic preferences fit the design before determining the appropriate yardage.

Adjusting Tee Selection Based on Conditions and Goals

Within the same track, within-round developments should tweak your tee considerations like…

  • Wind strength/directionality
  • Wet/dry fairways and expanded/restricted rolls
  • Front/back nine scoring differentials indicating which side suits your game presently

Do not just robotically play the same tees without reflecting on evolving situations. Let the conditions inform intelligent adjustments.

Maximizing Enjoyment and Performance by Playing the Right Tees

Beyond supporting fundamentals like pace and handicapping, dialling in the proper tee selection heightens on-course fulfilment multiple ways:

How Correct Tee Selection Enhances the Enjoyment of Your Round

Picking suitable yardages enables realistic scoring opportunities, delightful greens in regulation success and rewarding risk-taking. Mis-aligned tees damage morale through relentless lost balls, punitive scoring and minimal strategic options. Proper length choices spice fun through empowered play.

Improving Your Scores by Playing the Right Distance

Closely tying required distances to your realistic average shot values prevents massive differentials cratered by dimensional misfits. Well-matched tees expose your normal good/bad variance – not slamming gross outliers from physical overwhelm skewing performance inaccurately. Align yardage to invite your “normal” instead of distortion.

In closing, obsessing over the specific tee boxes and precise yards to play during every round may seem insignificant. However, diligent selection provides a foundation upholding personal enjoyment, fleet play and the integrity of your ever-fluctuating handicap through the years. Lean less on external social pressures around playing certain yardages and more on self-awareness of your evolving golf skills day to day and course to course. Choose your tees wisely.

FAQ For How To Choose What Tees To Play From

Q: How do golfers determine which tees to play from on a golf course?

A: Golfers choose a tee box to play from based on several factors, including their average driving distance, experience, and the challenge they seek. A helpful guideline is the 7 iron rule; if your 7 iron distance aligns with the course’s recommendations for a particular set of tees, that’s a good indicator. Additionally, many courses offer charts or signs indicating which tees are suitable for different skill levels.

Q: What are the benefits of playing from the correct golf tees?

A: Playing from the correct golf tees for your skill level can greatly enhance your enjoyment and performance on the course. It ensures the course plays as intended, with reachable hazards and achievable pars, which can help improve your pace of play and reduce frustrations. Moreover, it can prevent injuries from overexerting on long shots and enhance your overall experience by playing a game that’s suited to your abilities.

Q: Can senior golfers play from any tees?

A: Senior golfers, like any other players, should choose their tees based on their current driving distance and playing ability, rather than age alone. Many senior players may find the senior tees or forward tees more enjoyable and better matched to their game, but if a senior golfer has maintained a long driving distance, moving back a set of tees might offer the right challenge.

Q: Is it okay to try to play from the back tees?

A: Attempting to play from the back tees, or “play the tips,” is something golfers should do cautiously. These tees are typically intended for very low handicap or professional players and offer the longest and most difficult route through the course. If your game matches this level, it can be an exciting challenge; however, if not, it might lead to an overly difficult and less enjoyable game. It’s always crucial to realistically assess your skill level.

Q: Should beginners always start from the front tees?

A: While it’s a common recommendation for beginners to start from the front tees (or forward tees), it’s not a hard rule. Beginners should focus on enjoying the game and developing their skills. Starting from the front tees can make the game more accessible and enjoyable by presenting a shorter course. However, as confidence and skills develop, beginners should feel encouraged to try playing from further back tees to find new challenges.

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