How does tee height affect driving distance? It’s a great question.
In this post, we’ll help you understand all the factors you need to consider before teeing off. If you’re new to golf, you may be surprised to learn that there are some fine details that go into a good drive. Most recreational golfers think they will find success by swinging their heart out, but that’s not the formula for a long drive (even if Happy Gilmore taught you differently).
Your golf ball flight is influenced by several factors including trajectory and spin. These factors are often discussed, and we don’t want to downplay them. Choosing the right golf ball and the right golf club are really important.
However, the average golfer rarely considers the importance of tee height. When you’re done reading, you’ll be at least one step ahead of those losers.
Proper tee height can make a huge difference in your game, as it plays a major role in the ball trajectory and spin, which ultimately influences the driver loft and carry distance of your shot.
Keep reading to learn more.
So how does golf tee height make a difference?
The height at which a golf ball is raised off the ground has a significant impact on driving distance. You can have the best swing in the world, but if you don’t set your tee up correctly, your golf shot won’t reach its maximum potential.
When you visit a driving range, you’ll notice that all the rubber tees are the same height (unless there is an irons practice area). This is true for a reason.
When you’re on the course, it’s easy to tee a ball too low or too high without even thinking about it. Again, poor prep at the tee box determines leads to a below average driving distance.
I’ve seen debates on the golf course over the type of tee one should use (a plastic tee vs wooden tees vs a brush tee), but I’ve never seen a golfer call someone out for how they set up their tee in the first place.
We’re going to make sure you have the right perspective and can recognize the perfect tee height. Are you ready to maximize your driver distance?
So what is the correct driver tee height?
As a general rule, the perfect driver tee height is about 1.5 inches from the ground to the ball (see illustration).
Nobody wants to carry a ruler onto the course, so there are few easy ways to check your setup.
To know if your ball is the correct distance from the ground, get yourself lined up as if you were going to take your tee shot. As you put the driver head behind the ball, the bottom of the ball should be level or just barely above the top of your driver.
This ball position makes you more likely to hit the sweet spot of the club and sets you up for the best launch angle. Factors like swing speed matter of course, but setting up the ball correctly is a major step in the right direction.
When your tee is set at an incorrect height, you have a few less than desirable outcomes.
For example, if you hit the ball too high (or “top” the ball), your clubhead will drive the ball towards the ground. This poor trajectory means the ball will hit the ground sooner and limit your distance (regardless of your clubhead speed).
If you hit the lower half of the ball (or get underneath it), you will produce more backspin or pop up the ball. Again, the result is a shorter shot and a bad loft angle.
ExactGolf.com has a detailed write-up on how tee height influences your ball strike (they even include some data for you geeks out there).
When it comes to choosing your tee height, this will change slightly depending on what club you’re using.
Some Helpful Tee Height Guidelines
- Driver: 1 1/2″
- 3 wood: 1/2″
- Irons: 1/4″ (just barely off the ground – see our tips for How To Tee Off with An Iron)
As a general rule, as long as the bottom of the ball is even with the highest point of the club face, you should be ok.
Here are some other tee height tips to remember:
- When using a driver to tee off, always keep the bottom of the ball level with the top of the club face
- When using hybrids and most fairway woods, the top of the tee should be around half an inch above the ground
- When using a 3-wood, make sure the ball is about two thirds above the top of the club face
- When using a 6-iron or shorter, use a very short tee. Really only the head of the tee should be above the ground
- When using long irons and mid-irons, the best position tends to be having your tee height somewhere between how you have it when using a hybrid and a short iron (about a quarter-inch).
Golf Tee Size for Beginners
Golf tees come in a variety of different tee heights, but are most commonly 2.75, 3.25 and 4 inches long. There are smaller options available from certain manufacturers such as 1 ½ inch tees and 2 ⅛ inch tees. These are designed for teeing the ball slightly above the grass.
Typically, you would use the larger 3.25″ and 4″ tees when you tee off with a driver. Those with an oversized clubface should probably lean more towards the 4 inch option.
When it comes to teeing off with a fairway wood, an iron or a hybrid club, use the shorter tees such as the 2.75 or even smaller, depending on your preference.
Do I need to carry different size golf tees?
Carrying different sized tees in your bag can be useful, but it depends on your skill level and whether you play competitively or just recreationally.
Having more than one sized tee available to you is not a necessity. If you just want to purchase one set of tees, see our recommendation below.
For shots where you’re hitting the ball off the tee with an iron or hybrid, you can just push the tee of your choice deeper into the ground.
What are golf tees made of?
Golf tees are typically made from either wood or plastic. The most common golf tees are wooden. The type of wood used is normally cedar wood, but sometimes you’ll find bamboo tees.
Some manufacturers produce synthetic plastic tees that last longer. Others have developed tees made out of biodegradable materials.
All tees serve essentially the same purpose, so an amateur golfer doesn’t need to stress too much over their tee selection. Wood tees will break easier than other materials, but there are some high-end options that are very strong and can be used for multiple rounds. There is even the unique brush tee that’s worth trying.
How Does Tee Height Affect Driving Distance?
You now know the answer to that question, so it’s up to you to set things up right during your next round. Best of luck at the golf course!
Find answers to other common questions.