A common question many beginner golfers have is: how high should you tee the golf ball?
While it may seem like a pretty straight-forward process, it surprises me how often I see amateurs do it completely wrong.
When hitting driver, some will tee their ball up so high that they whiff straight underneath it or hit it off the crown of the club (sending it miles into the air, only for it to land 100 yards in front of them).
Others will tee it so low – as if they’re hitting an iron – and hit the lowest, spinniest drives I’ve ever seen, before asking why they can never get any height with their tee shots.
So, how high should you tee the golf ball?
In general, when hitting driver, the tee should be at a height so that the bottom third of the golf ball sits level with the crown of your club. With a 3-wood, you want the centre of the ball to align with the crown of the club. With irons, you only want to tee the ball up a few millimetres off the ground.
While there are no hard and fast rules for how high you should tee the golf ball, there are certainly some general, stock-standard guidelines than can be applied to help you achieve your desired result.
Let’s take a look at them in more detail (I’ll also explain how different tee heights affects your ball flight).
Table of contents
How high should you tee-up a driver in golf?
When hitting driver, you should tee the golf ball up to a height so that the bottom third of the ball is level with the crown of the clubhead. This can be considered a ‘neutral’ tee height that will produce an optimal ball flight – one that has low spin, good height, and ample penetration.
It is high enough that you can strike the ball with an upward angle of attack, which will reduce the amount of spin imparted onto the ball and increase distance.
Of course, there are variations you can make to your tee height when hitting driver, depending on the ball flight you’re trying to achieve.
If you have a tailwind and want to make the most of it by hitting a high, booming draw for extra carry, go ahead and tee the ball a little higher, so that the bottom of the ball is level with the crown of the driver.
If you’re hitting into the wind and want to play a lower flight, or are faced with a narrow landing area and need to hit a ‘fairway finder’ shot, tee the ball so that the top third is level with the crown of the driver.
Teeing the ball this low with driver will impart more spin onto the ball, which may make it curve more through the air and carry less distance (the shorter amount of time it stays in the air, the less time it has to go significantly off-line).
These 3.25 inch tees from Pride Professional are perfect for using with driver.
How high should you tee-up a 3-wood in golf?
When hitting 3-wood, you should tee the golf ball up to a height so that the centre of the ball is level with the crown of the clubhead. This can be considered a ‘neutral’ tee height that will produce a ball flight that has low spin, good height, and ample penetration.
Because 3-wood has more loft than driver, and a smaller clubhead, it makes sense that you need to tee it lower (otherwise you’re a good chance of doming the ball, or whiffing straight underneath it if the tee is too high).
However, while the above guidelines will work for most players, there is certainly room for personal preference when it comes to teeing up the ball with a 3-wood.
Some golfers will choose to tee their 3-wood so that the ball is almost flush with the ground, much like if they were hitting from the middle of the fairway – this is especially the case if they want to lower their flight.
A lower tee height can help encourage a downward angle of attack and better compression (leading to better control), however it can impart more spin on the ball, too.
On the flip side, other players may feel they can make better contact and reduce spin by teeing the ball up with their 3-wood, and may do so if they’re after extra distance.
Regardless of which method you choose, what you definitely should not do when hitting 3-wood is tee the ball excessively high (so that it sits above the crown of the clubhead), as this will make it unnecessarily harder to strike flush.
These 1.5 inch tees from Pride Professional are perfect for using with 3-wood.
How high should you tee-up an iron in golf?
When hitting a long iron, you should tee the ball at a similar height as you would a 3-wood, so that the centre of the ball is inline with the top edge of the clubface. When hitting a mid or short iron, you should tee the ball so that it’s only a few millimetres off the ground.
With irons, it really comes down to personal preference when debating how high you should tee the golf ball.
You may find it a little easier to make solid, repeatable contact with your longer irons if you tee the ball slightly above the ground, as these tend to be the hardest clubs to hit off the deck for beginners.
However, because mid and short irons are designed to be hit from the fairway, you really do have the option of teeing the ball up slightly or just hitting it from the ground (it won’t make significant difference either way).
These 1.5 inch tees from Pride Professional are perfect for using with irons.
Is it better to tee the ball high or low in golf?
Whether to tee the ball high or low depends on what shot you are trying to hit. If you wish to hit the ball higher, tee it higher. If you wish to hit the ball lower, tee it lower. When hitting with the wind, you can afford to tee the ball a little higher; when hitting into the wind, it may be better to tee it a little lower.
Deciding on which ball flight is best will be determined by what’s in front of you on the golf course, and which shot you’re trying to hit.
Some reasons to tee the ball higher include:
- You’re hitting with a tail wind and want extra distance
- You’re trying to hit a draw
- You need to clear a tall tree and require extra height
- You have a wide-open fairway to aim at
Some reasons to tee the ball lower include:
- You’re hitting into the wind
- You’re faced with a narrow fairway
- You want to hit a controlled fade
- You want to hit a stinger
Essentially, if you want a higher ball flight, tee it higher; if you want a lower ball flight, tee it lower. It’s that simple.
What happens if you tee the ball up too high in golf?
If you tee the golf ball up too high, you run the risk of ‘doming’ it – which is a term that is used to describe the ball hitting the crown of the clubhead, usually a driver, and shooting high into the air with little distance. You also risk swinging straight underneath the ball altogether if your tee is too high.
I’ve seen many amateur players tee the ball up so high that when they make their swing, their club sweeps straight underneath the ball and collects the tee only – leaving the ball to drop straight down onto the ground.
While players are usually guilty of teeing their driver up too high, some also tee their irons up far too high – this can make it extremely difficult to get the required compression onto the ball to control it properly.
If in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of teeing your ball slightly too low than slightly too high, as you’ll still be able to make decent contact relatively easily.
Does tee height affect driving distance?
Yes, tee height affects driving distance in golf. If you want to hit it longer and get more carry with driver, it’s best to tee the ball a little higher. If you want to keep the ball lower with driver, it’s better to tee it down a little more than usual.
When I say ‘tee the ball higher’, it’s important not to tee it excessively high – at the very least, you want the bottom of the golf ball to be level with the crown of the driver.
When I say ‘tee it lower’, it’s important not to tee it excessively low – you want the top of the golf ball to be level with the crown of the driver, as this should produce an adequately low flight.
How high you should tee your golf ball depends on which club you’re hitting, but also which flight you’re trying to achieve.
While there are general guidelines for optimal tee heights with driver, fairway woods and irons, it’s important to find a height for each that you’re most comfortable with, and produces the best results for you.
But, the easiest thing to remember is this: if you want to hit the ball higher, tee it higher; if you want to hit the ball lower, tee it lower.