Instruction

How High Should You Tee Up Your Golf Ball?

April 19, 2022
6 min

There are 18 opportunities each round to tee your golf ball up in the perfect position.

Beyond that, there are few, if any, times in golf when you can guarantee yourself the exact lie you want. So without question, teeing your ball up correctly is something everyone will want to take advantage of to give themselves the best possible chance for a great shot.

It may seem like a total afterthought, but how high you tee up your golf ball has a pretty large effect. The two main areas that are influenced are spin and centeredness of contact with the clubface.

How to Tee Up Your Golf Ball

No, this is not a dumb question. A lot of beginners may not understand that there are a couple of critical factors that come with the mechanics of teeing the ball up.

First of all, you should put the tee in the ground while it is connected to the golf ball. You can do this by holding the ball in the palm of either hand and placing the tee in between your fingers. The top of the tee, where the ball sits, should be up against the ball. All you need to do is push the tee into the ground and then remove your hand.

This is far more convenient than putting the tee into the ground first without the ball. And more importantly, it is a lot easier to judge how far into the ground you have put your tee. As you will see shortly, that is very important.

Beyond the actual act of teeing it up, there are three main factors in the mechanics of how to tee up your golf ball: height, location and allowing access to the ball.

Height, the most self-explanatory out of the three, is a major influencer in shot trajectory. We'll get more into that shortly. But the last two are often forgotten elements of the game.

Tee Location

Location means where in the tee box you decided to tee up your golf ball. Start by giving yourself the flattest lie possible. Many tee boxes are crowned for irrigation purposes, meaning you will want to be more in the center of the tee box to give yourself a flat lie. If there are any sandy areas, you will generally want to avoid those the best you can. The healthier turf you can find, the better.

But the location also matters for your angle to attack the hole. Generally you want to tee up your golf ball on the side that has the most trouble on it. For example, if there is water running down the lefthand side of a hole, you will want to tee up your golf ball on the lefthand side. This creates more of an angle to hit away from the water.

This is also often a factor for a player who regularly hits a certain shot shape. Those who hit it left-to-right like to tee up their golf ball on the righthand side, and vice versa. This can be particularly helpful if there are trees or other obstacles in the way of a normal shot shape.

And finally, don't forget these pieces in the Rules of Golf:

  1. You are allowed to stand outside the tee markers as long as the golf ball is inside the tee markers.
  2. You are allowed two club lengths backwards from the tee markers. This traditionally is used on par-3's where a player is in between clubs and opts to go with the longer club while giving themselves more space by going backwards on the tee box.
  3. If you tee up your golf ball ahead of the markers, that is a penalty only if the shot is hit.

Allowing Access to the Ball

Have you ever seen a PGA Tour player tee up their ball and then step down on the turf behind the ball?

This is an expert tactic mainly used when the ball is teed low to the ground. By smothering the grass and lowering it slightly, the club can have unfettered access to the ball. Many times when you tee the ball low to the ground, the tee no longer is visible and the area to make ideal contact with the ball is condensed.

It may not seem like much but that extra inch of grass being pressed down could be a major difference, especially on a shot where you hit behind the ball slightly. And for whatever reason, there is a mental boost you get by doing it. The ball just sits up cleaner, waiting to be smacked.

How to Tee Up Your Golf Ball For Different Clubs

Let's start with the driver. This is arguably the most important club when it comes to tee height.

For those who are very analytical, the ideal height is usually around 1.5 inches. But for the rest of us who rely more on feel, look to see if the top of the driver sits around halfway through the ball when you stand at address. This allows the club to line up nicely with the sweet spot on the driver face.

Teeing the ball up slightly higher with a driver generally allows for a longer tee shot, if it's struck properly. However, a higher tee height usually means less accuracy and the tendency to make contact too high on the face.

Teeing the ball slightly lower generally has the opposite effect. The ball tends to stay more on target, while not traveling as far, because you are forced to hit slightly more down on the ball than usual.

When it comes to woods, you can put the ball right up next to the turf. Beginners should feel welcome to put the tee up a half an inch to aid in getting the ball up in the air, but this is not necessary once you are making clean contact.

Because irons are meant to be hit with a descending blow, they should be teed up close to the ground. Wedges really only need to be teed up by beginners. Using a tee with a wedge will typically add unnecessary spin. You can go ahead and use the ground, but feel free to build a small "grass tee" of sorts so the ball is on a slight upslope.

Conclusion

How you tee up your golf ball may seem like an easy step. However, there are a lot of factors that go into how you start each hole. When it comes to your game, make sure everything is done with a purpose. That includes the seemingly simple process of teeing up your ball.

One great thing for anyone to do is to experiment. Go to the range and see what happens when you tee an iron up at 1.5 inches. Tee a driver up a half an inch. Are you consistent? Is there a useful shot you can use? Maybe a driver teed down low is good for a narrow hole that requires a fade. There are endless possibilities, and being creative is all a part of the fun.

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