How High Should the Golf Ball Be on the Tee?

You're a beginning golfer stepping up to the tee box. You have a tee in your hand and you press it into the ground. But how far down into the ground does it go? How high or low should the golf ball rest on the tee?

Correct Tee Height Depends on Club Used

How high you should tee the golf ball depends on the type of golf club you are using. The longer the club — driver being the longest, the wedges being the shortest — then the higher the ball should sit on the tee. The type of club is also important because they are built differently, for different types of swings: drivers need to impact the teed ball on the upswing; fairway woods and hybrids sweep into the ball; irons should contact the ball on a descending path, even when the golf ball is on a tee.

Tee Height with Driver, Woods and Hybrids

Studies have shown that the best height to tee the ball when using a driver is equal to the crown (or top) of the driver. In other words, the bottom of the golf ball, resting on the tee, should be level with the top of the driver. Teeing the ball this high is one way to maximize distance: "Tee it high to let it fly," as the old adage goes.

(Note that standard-length tees are probably too short to accomplish the above advice; for teeing the driver, you'll likely need long tees rather than standard tees.)

As the club you're using gets shorter, you'll lower the height of the golf ball on the tee. For a 3-wood, leave about one-half to one-third of the ball above the crown of the club. For other fairway woods and hybrids, leave about one-third to one-quarter of the ball above the crown (about a half-inch of a standard tee should be above ground).

Tee Height with Irons and Wedges

If you're teeing off with an iron, less of the tee will be above ground. For long to mid-irons (2-, 3-, 4-, 5-irons), it is recommended that about a quarter-inch of the tee remain above ground.

For the shorter mid-irons and short irons (6-, 7-, 8-, 9-irons and PW), press the tee all the way into the ground so that only its head is above ground.

This brings up another question: Should you use a tee at all when hitting an iron from the teeing ground? After all, you never play irons off a tee at any other point on the golf course. The vast majority of your iron shots are played right off the turf. For that reason, some great golfers — Lee Trevino, for example — prefer hitting irons from the teeing ground right off the turf, no tee used. They place the ball directly on the ground and play it as a normal iron shot.

But beginners especially should always choose the option to use a tee. As Jack Nicklaus once said, "Air offers less resistance than turf." Having the ball sitting up on the tee makes it easier for the vast majority of golfers to play the tee shot. And most golfers — especially beginners and higher-handicappers — get a boost in confidence from seeing that golf ball sitting up so nicely on a tee.

Summing Up Recommended Teeing Height

1)Driver: Bottom of ball level with top of driver

2)3-wood: About half to a third of ball above the top of clubhead

3)Other fairway woods and hybrids: About a half-inch of tee above ground

4)Long to mid-irons: About a quarter-inch of tee above ground

5)6-iron and shorter: Only the head of tee above ground