What Is a Tee in Golf? (+4 Tips How To Use Them Better)

For those new to golf, it’s beneficial to familiarize yourself with the fundamental aspects of the sport, which include golf equipment, golf attire, golf lessons, and the basics of golf courses. 

Even seemingly insignificant objects like the tee in golf are significant in understanding the game.

As a beginner, you might need to become more familiar with tee boxes. The term “Tee Box” is generally inconsequential to most golfers; it merely refers to the designated spot where you place your ball for the first shot of each round. 

However, as a beginner, you may not have heard all the uses for this word as it can be used in many different contexts. Here are some fundamental basics that we’ll cover:

  • What Does Tee Mean In Golf?
  • What Is a Golf Tee Used For?
  • When Can You Use a Tee in Golf?
  • Golf Tee Rules
  • 4 Tips How to Properly Use a Tee
  • 5 Different Types of Golf Tees
  • What Is a Tee Box?
  • Tee Box Rules
  • Which Tee Box Should You Play?
  • Which Tee Box is Best For Beginners?

It’s tee time!

wooden golf tees lying on grass

What Does Tee Mean In Golf?

Most of the time, a tee in golf refers to a little platform from which you strike the golf ball. 

Additionally, “tee” is used broadly to describe the starting point of a golf match on a course. 

Other sports, such as tee ball, American football, and rugby, also use a tee, but in these cases, the tee is considerably bigger than a golf tee.

What is a Golf Tee Used For?

Generally, a tee in golf raises and supports the golf ball, as keeping it off the ground reduces resistance. 

Similarly, golfers use a tee from the designated tee box for the initial shot of each respective hole. Afterward, the golf ball is positioned on the tee before the player hits it.

The height of the golf ball above the ground is determined by the golfer, depending on the club used for the first stroke. Interestingly, different clubs may necessitate varying heights.

golf ball on a tee ready to be hit

When Can You Use a Tee in Golf?

Tees in golf are specifically used on the tee box, the designated area where golfers start each hole. 

Markers or teeing ground signs usually direct you to the teeing area, the only place where tees are allowed on the course. 

Once the first stroke is made from the tee box, subsequent shots are played from where the ball rests without using a tee.

Golf Tee Rules

In terms of golf tee rules, once you have used a tee for your initial stroke on a particular hole, you are prohibited from doing so again. The significance of accurately tallying that first stroke becomes evident. 

However, the sole exception to this regulation arises when a penalty is imposed, prompting the golfer to return to the tee area and replay their shot.

It’s optional for golfers to employ a tee, although if they choose to do so, the tee must be an apparatus that elevates the golf ball above the ground and does not exceed a height of 4 inches. 

Furthermore, tees in golf must not be used to influence the ball’s movement.

golf ball sitting on a tee

4 Tips How to Properly Use a Tee

Using a tee in golf correctly can enhance your shots and, in turn, lower your score:

#1: Tee Height

Adjust the tee height based on the club you are using and the type of shot you intend to play. The tee should be higher for longer shots with a driver, allowing for a higher launch angle. For shorter shots or irons, a lower tee height may be appropriate.

#2: Stable Base

Ensure the tee is securely placed in the ground, providing a stable base for the ball. Press the tee into the ground to ensure it doesn’t wobble or move during the swing.

#3: Smooth Swing

When teeing off, take a smooth and controlled swing, focusing on making solid contact with the ball. The tee helps provide a clean strike, so aim to hit the ball cleanly off the tee without hitting the tee itself.

#4: Tee Removal

After hitting the ball, promptly remove the tee from the ground. This prevents interference with other players’ shots and maintains the game’s flow and golf course upkeep.

tee with golf ball on it in the evening

5 Different Types of Golf Tees

In the past, golfers had only two options for a tee in golf: long and short, both made of wood. 

Nowadays, the range of tee choices seems endless. Golf tees come in various materials, each with its characteristics and advantages:

#1. Plastic Tees

It is widely known that plastic harms the environment, unlike eco-friendly materials like bamboo. 

When golf club manufacturers consider methods to minimize plastic waste, they acknowledge that plastic tees are frequently discovered on the golf course, thereby adding to the plastic waste issue.

Furthermore, plastic tees are costlier than wooden ones and are equally prone to breaking. Along with their harmful environmental consequences, there are a few advantages to using this material. 

We suggest opting for wooden tees and transitioning towards a golf game free from plastic.

#2. Wooden Tees

Wooden tees are the most commonly used. For individuals who tend to break tees frequently, hardwood tees can be a cost-effective alternative. 

They are more durable and don’t split as easily, reducing the need for frequent purchases.

3 wooden golf tees of different color

#3. Bamboo Tees

Bamboo tees are a relatively recent addition to the market. Although they may be slightly more expensive, they are considered environmentally friendly. 

Despite being slightly pricier than traditional wooden tees, bamboo tees are an eco-conscious choice. 

Additionally, their inherent durability reduces the chances of splitting, making them beneficial for both the environment and your finances. It’s hard to find a reason not to appreciate them.

#4. Rubber Tees

Rubber tees are designed for practice and training purposes. They typically have a solid rubber base with an adjustable top section that holds the ball. 

Rubber tees offer flexibility regarding tee height adjustment and are suitable for mats or artificial turf use. They are long-lasting and can withstand heavy use.

#5. Speciality Tees

There are a variety of tees designed for specific purposes. These specialized tees include step-down or right-height tees, which help position the ball perfectly. 

Other tees like martini, rocket, or brush golf tees claim to assist in achieving longer drives and better accuracy. The operative word there was “claim.”

What Is a Tee Box?

The tee box, or the teeing ground, is the designated area on each hole from where golfers take their first shot, their tee shot. It is usually marked by tee markers or signs indicating the available tee box options. The tee box provides a level surface for the golfer to tee up their ball and begin the hole.

lady in the tee box ready to tee off

Tee Box Rules

When playing from tee boxes, golfers need to adhere to certain rules and guidelines:

Tee Markers

The tee box is defined by tee markers, which indicate the boundaries of the teeing area. The tee markers can vary in color or shape, designating different tee box options.


Golfers must align themselves within the designated tee markers while teeing off. The ball should be played between the markers or behind the front line.

Forward Movement

Once a golfer has completed their shot from the tee box, they should move forward to allow other players to tee off without obstruction.

tee marker on a golf gourse

Which Tee Box Should You Play?

The choice of tee box depends on the golfer’s skill level, experience, and distance capabilities. Golf courses typically offer multiple tee box options to accommodate players of different abilities. Here are some general guidelines:

Beginner Golfers

Beginners are advised to start from the forward or shorter tees. This allows them to have a more enjoyable experience while focusing on developing their skills and building confidence.

Intermediate Golfers

As golfers progress and gain more experience, they can gradually move back to the middle tees. This provides a moderate challenge while still allowing room for improvement.

Advanced Golfers

Advanced players with greater distance capabilities and skill levels can choose the back or championship tees. These tees offer the longest yardage and are designed for players with high levels of skill and accuracy.

3 tee box areas on a golf course for beginners, intermediate golfers and advanced golfers

Which Tee Box is Best For Beginners?

For beginners, starting from the forward or shorter tees is recommended. These tees offer shorter distances to the hole, making the game more manageable and enjoyable for new players. By playing from the forward tees, beginners can focus on developing their swing, accuracy, and overall game without being overwhelmed by long distances.

Additionally, starting from the forward tees allows beginners to gain confidence and build a solid foundation for their golfing skills. As their game improves and they become more comfortable, they can gradually progress to longer tees and take on more challenging courses.

Choosing the appropriate tee box ensures a positive experience while challenging yourself appropriately. As you become more skilled and confident, you can gradually return to more advanced tee boxes and test your abilities on longer courses.

What Is a Tee in Golf? (+4 Tips How To Use Them Better) 1

Wrap-Up: What Is a Tee in Golf?

To wrap things up, a tee in golf is a small peg or stand used to elevate the ball off the ground for the initial stroke on each hole. It allows golfers to strike the ball cleanly and achieve optimal distance and accuracy. 

The tee box, marked by tee markers, is the designated area where tees are used. Golfers must follow specific rules and guidelines when using tees and playing from the tee box. 

The choice of tee box depends on the golfer’s skill level and experience, with beginners starting from the forward tees and gradually progressing as their game improves. 

Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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