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Golf 101: How high should I tee up the golf ball?

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For plenty of newcomers to the game of golf, even before swinging a club doubt can creep into the mind. When placing the tee into the ground, beginners will often think: ‘How high should I tee up a golf ball?’

It’s not an uncommon thought and one that can create a lot of confusion depending on what club you’re using – confusion which we at GolfWRX want to eliminate.

How you tee up a golf ball is also something that can help improve both distance and accuracy off the tee. Here we’ll take a look at the general rules that will help golfers tee the ball up at the correct height for each club in the bag – each of which desires a very different approach.

Correct height to tee up the golf ball with…

Driver

The longest club in the bag demands that the clubface strikes the teed ball on the upswing. Therefore, when using driver off the tee, the golf ball will be teed at its highest.

The consensus from experts is that, when using driver, the ball should sit equal to the crown/top of the driver. When the bottom of the golf ball, resting on the tee, sits in line with the top of the driver, the ball is teed at its optimal position and allows golfers to achieve maximum distance.

The correct distance that the tee will be placed is about an inch and a half above the ground and will be lined up on the inside of your lead foot at address.

To achieve this height, golfers will need to use a tee longer than standard.

3-wood and hybrids:

For 3-wood and hybrids tee shots, you should look to sweep the golf ball. To achieve this sweep, golfers should leave one-half to one-third of the ball above the crown of the club for their 3-wood with the tee sitting about half an inch above the ground.

For hybrids and other fairway woods one-third to one-quarter of the ball above the crown is ideal.

For both at address, players should place their lead foot about a clubhead in front of the ball.

Irons & Wedges:

As you go through the bag into your irons, the tee will descend further into the ground.

For long to mid-irons (2-5i), golfers should look to leave a quarter of the tee above ground, while for shorter irons and wedges ((6i-wedges) players should press the tee all the way into the ground so that only the head of the tee remains above the turf.

Generally at address, the ball should lie in between both of your legs for iron and wedge shots.

‘Should I use a tee on par 3s?’ 

Yes. While occasionally you may see tour pros not using a tee for approaches to par 3’s, it’s not recommended for amateur golfers to do the same. Eighteen time major champion Jack Nicklaus is believed to have once said “You get 18 chances at a perfect lie – why not take them?” as “air offers less resistance than turf.” 

So take advantage and tee it up the ball when you get the chance!

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Gianni is the Assistant Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. ChipNRun

    Nov 28, 2020 at 12:10 am

    ————————–
    GM said:

    “The consensus from experts is that, when using driver, the ball should sit equal to the crown/top of the driver…”
    ————————–

    Which experts, may I ask? An instructor I work with says it depends whether you LAUNCH the ball or DROVE the ball. If you LAUNCH the ball, “the ball should set equal…” is good advice because you have a fairly steep upswing when you hit the ball.

    The instructor, who carries tee shots about 280 yards, DRIVES the ball. He tees the ball lower, top of ball is about a half inch above the crown of the driver, and has a less abrupt upswing on his drives. I get my best shots with a 10.5* driver if I tee it with ball a quarter inch above crown.

  2. Gunter Eisenberg

    Nov 26, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    That is a good starting point to tee it up according to the article but everyone’s attack angles are different so it really depends on the person. One should experiment and tee it up just high enough so it will hit the sweet spot of the club at impact. Doesn’t matter if it’s an iron, fairway wood, or driver.

  3. Steve

    Nov 22, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    Whenever I see Tiger tee up his driver he seems to set it lower than I would have thought. He seems to drive it ok.

  4. Pitman55

    Nov 21, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    I use the 4 inch tees.Line up the bottom of the ball with the crown of my driver..Set my club down about 4 inches behind the ball..Play ball off front toe..Get great carry that way..Live in the Vegas area with firm fairways..Good carry and firm fairways is a nice combo..FYI..I am 61 YO..SS is 101 MPH..Average drive 260 ish..Use G400 Max..

  5. Thomas Gerstenberger

    Nov 21, 2020 at 11:24 am

    I tend to disagree with the article. All clubs except the driver are intended to strike the ball resting on ground and the swing for each club is produced accordingly. Consequently, I tee each just slightly off the ground or slightly above the grass cut. For the driver much depends on degree loft. I still prefer a sweep where the bottom of the driver just wisps at the grass. I have a 10.5 degree, but may tee it higher if I move to a 9.5.

  6. phizzy

    Nov 20, 2020 at 9:58 am

    I would also like to add that Bryson tees his ball up super high like the WLD guys and they are some of the longest drivers of the ball so like I said, nothing is set in stone although I can respect Gianni’s general guidelines written in his article as a good starting point.

  7. phizzy

    Nov 20, 2020 at 9:56 am

    The article states general guidelines for tee height, but nothing is set in stone. For me, I have to tee the ball lower with all my clubs especially driver. I’ve tried teeing it as high as the article suggests but then I end up hitting high spinny drives that go nowhere. I have a +2 AoA and need to tee the ball where the equator of the ball is in line with the top of the crown in order to get optimal launch, spin and smash factor numbers on trackman. My biggest strength is driving off the tee(175 mph ball speed, 1.48 smash factor)so take it for what it’s worth but I believe all golfers should experiment with tee length and find what works best for them.

    • Fredo

      Nov 23, 2020 at 2:14 pm

      Totally agree with your comment, I also have a AoA that requires the middle of the ball to match the top of the driver. If I tee it higher I end up having the ball scuff the top of my driver…um thats a no bueno. Great article though!

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: It is early season WITB time!

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Played some golf recently and the “gamer” bag is getting a little more settled in. Time to do an early season WITB, what is staying and what is on thin ice to maybe be replaced!

 

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The Wedge Guy: Your wedge shafts DO make a difference

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Over the past few decades, golf shafts have come to represent an extremely broad and deep segment of the golf equipment marketplace. And the major manufacturers spend countless hours evaluating shafts – within an acceptable cost range, of course – for their product offerings in irons, drivers, fairways, and hybrids. As a result, the custom-fitting layer of golf club retailing is myopically focused on shaft selection — often at a premium price.

Special shaft technologies are even finally working their way into some of the newer putters — but not your wedges.

Take a stroll down the seemingly endless display of wedges in any big store, and you’ll see numerous brands, models, lofts, finishes and sole grinds — but nearly every one of them has been fitted with the same type of heavy, stiff steel shaft. I’ve always thought that was really shorting golfers where feel and performance need to be pinpoint perfect.

I have learned from countless observations of golfers of all skill levels that getting the right shaft in these super-important scoring clubs can reap huge rewards in performance. Just like in your driver, the material, weight, and flex of your wedge shafts have to be exactly right for you to optimize your scoring range skill set — whatever that might be.

Stop to realize that, when it comes to the shaft in your wedges, you’re asking a lot. They have to stabilize the heaviest clubheads in the bag at full swing speed, in order to give you full shot trajectory control so that your distances are consistent. But they also have to give you precise feel and control of those touch shots around the greens where clubhead speed is only a few miles per hour. That requires the shaft to have the ability to flex or move a bit in order to give you optimum motion feedback — the sensation back to your hands of exactly where the clubhead is and what it is doing.

I think it is very important that wedge shafts should be fitted to the individual golfer’s strength profile.

Every week on television, we see the tour professionals exhibit an unbelievable display of short game mastery, hitting greenside wedge shots with absolute control of trajectory, spin, and distance. And while most all of them play a steel shaft that is the same weight as that in their irons, most all also opt for a bit softer in flex than the shaft in their irons.
But you have to also realize that these guys are top-level athletes who are extremely strong in the forearms and hands, so they can do things with a wedge of that overall weight that very few recreational golfers can even dream about – simply because you do not have the arm and hand strength to allow that level of precise manipulation of the club.

To solve this dilemma, I strongly advocate the following: Select a shaft for your wedges that closely approximates the weight of your short iron shafts. If you play lightweight steel or graphite shafts in your irons, by all means, demand the same in your wedges. This, of course, means you need to retrofit the wedges you have, or buy from a company that will accommodate your needs.

Your wedge shafts, however, should be a bit softer overall than your iron flexes to give you the feel you need around the greens. One way to achieve that is to select the same type of shaft as your irons, but in a softer flex, then cut back some of the tip section if you can.

And finally: test everything! Trying new things is one of the fun aspects of playing golf, and wedges are no different. You can experiment with different shafts in your wedges at a pretty low cost, so do it! I think you’ll have fun, and you’re likely to stumble on a formula that really improves your scoring.

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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Focused Phil does anything but flop at the PGA Championship

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That was fun. Through 55 holes, it looked like Brooks Koepka was ready to return from injury and establish his dominance with three wins in four years at the PGA Championship. Instead, his putter went dead cold and Phil Mickelson did the improbable.

Despite having poor form in recent weeks, Mickelson felt like he was on the verge of a breakthrough. He spent much of his recent practice working on focus. Staying present in the moment. In the end, golf is a mental game where a single uncommitted swing or distraction can lead to disaster and cost a tournament. There is no doubting Mickelson’s tremendous talent, but he is notorious for losing focus at the worst possible moment. Not this time. Between his practice and timely advice from his brother and caddie, he was able to remain dialed in down the stretch and outlast a star-studded leaderboard to win the PGA Championship at 50 years old. Incredible.

So, how did he do it? Well first, he hit bombs.

Mickelson has been all over social media discussing his “hellacious seeds” and “bombs.” Over the past several years, he put in a tremendous amount of work to go from average in terms of swing speed on the PGA Tour to fast. All of this at 50 years old. While this has separated him from fields on the Champions Tour, it has been difficult for Mickelson to keep it in play on the PGA Tour. Not this week. Mickelson may have only finished 29th in terms of strokes gained: driving this week, but he kept the ball in play and gave himself chances to hit the green. On a difficult, windy Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, that is more than many can say. In fact, he hit the longest drive of the day on hole 16 on Sunday. Take that Bryson. Using V1 Game’s driving distance analysis, Mickelson averaged over 300 yards across all drives for the week. This allowed him to dismantle the par 5s, which were critical to getting his overall score under par.

Mickelson did most of his damage on the front nine and in particular, holes two and seven above where he was 7 under for the week. V1 Game’s Hole History view gives a Shotlink-like view of how he played the two holes. Long drives in the fairway allowed him to be aggressive into the greens with easy chips or two-putt birdies. At a course as difficult as Kiawah, you have to birdie the holes you’re supposed to to give room for mistakes on the more difficult holes. Typically, the winner of each PGA Tour event makes very few mistakes. However, at Kiawah, mistakes were unavoidable. Between narrow fairways, wind, and difficult conditions, the week was more like a U.S. Open than a PGA Championship. Mickelson made mistakes, but he was able to minimize them with his amazing short game and tremendous lag putting.

The Virtual Coach in V1 Game details the mistakes Mickelson made throughout the week. Despite playing well all week, when the pressure was ratcheted up on Sunday there were more mistakes. Still, Mickelson did a great job of turning doubles into bogeys to minimize the damage. He was off to a shaky start on Sunday. He 3-putted the first hole and took 4 to get down from just 36 yards on the third hole. Around that time, his brother Tim told him to start committing to shots if he wanted to win. Mickelson was able to do that and didn’t make another mistake until the 13th hole by which time he had a five-stroke lead. Sometimes golf is a game of survival.

Not enough will be said about Mickelson’s putting this week. Phil is notorious for struggling with the short ones in pressure situations, and one observation from tracking his rounds — his lag putting was phenomenal. He consistently left himself inside two feet for his clean-up. This takes a tremendous amount of pressure off the putter when nerves are at an all-time high. This may not show up from a strokes gained perspective where you are rewarded for making longer putts, but not missing short ones is important as this was the downfall of both Louis Oosthuizen and Koepka. Mickelson may have finished 37th in strokes gained: putting for the week, but he made it easy for himself on the greens. So, if he finished in the 30s for driving and putting, how did he win the golf tournament?

If Mickelson is known for anything, it’s his prolific short game. He certainly shined when it mattered, gaining strokes on all four days around the green. He finished 18th for the week in strokes gained: short and made critical up and down time and again to minimize big numbers and save par. However, Mickelson truly separated himself with his strokes gained: approach gaining 4.4 strokes on the field with his irons and finishing fifth in the field. Add it all up and Phil is the winner in strokes gained: total and gets the Wanamaker.

It was a brilliant display of golf and focus. The scene at 18 was incredible as the crowd chanted “Lefty” and circled the green to watch the historic moment as the oldest man to ever win a major championship tapped in the final putt. Mickelson was focused. Golf is a mental game after all. The golf course was difficult and he played it better than anyone else.

Mickelson knew what he needed to work on these last several years to stay at the top of the game and has been able to do it through not just working on speed and hitting bombs, but improving his mental game along the way. V1 Game can help you understand what you need to work on to get better at any age and any skill level. Mickelson’s performance was inspiring as is his desire to use every tool available to get better. It was interesting late on Saturday to listen to both Oosthuizen and Koepka discuss their play. Louis was frustrated with his ballstriking, despite leading the field on Saturday in strokes gained: tee to green. It was his putter that was letting him down. Koepka complained about his putting after a late short miss when his iron play was below average for him. Even the best in the game can be confused on which area of their game is impacting their score. Strokes gained and V1 Game take the mystery out of game improvement. Whether you’re a young gun or closer to the Champions Tour, advanced analysis from V1 Game can get you following in Mickelson’s footsteps. What a great game golf is.

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