Golf tees are one of those things that you do not miss or realize how important they are until you have the wrong tee. When that happens, the importance of the golf tee becomes evident, although many people fail to realize why those tiny platforms that help stabilize your ball matter.
The following is all you need to know about golf tees, including descriptions of 8 of the best golf tees on the market.
Why Golf Tees Matter
Play a round without them to get a good idea of how much golf tees matter to your game. You can probably make due driving off some tee boxes without golf tees, but inevitably, you will run into the grass that is too long or too short, and your drive will suffer. Golf tees help accomplish three things:
- Allow a golfer to make a cleaner drive (or in-play shot if an exception is in place)
- Aid a golfer making long shots by lifting the ball above the grass
- Reduce botched shots
Without a golf tee, the golfer must handle whatever the ground around the tee box offers. The types of ground that can affect the surface around a tee box or throughout the golf course include, but are not limited to:
In addition, the course can have longer and shorter grass and thicker or thinner sod.
The Golf Tee Impact
All those factors can affect a shot, whether it be a drive off a tee box, a shot down the fairway, or in the rough if the Winter Play exception is in place. A tee helps because it lifts the ball “above the fray.” Not only can a golfer see the ball more clearly, but the ball is also removed from much of the stuff that makes effective drives or shots difficult.
For example, several factors can influence your shot if your ball is lying flat on the ground. You might hit the ground before hitting the ball. Rocks, stones, or other debris might obstruct your shot. Thicker or longer grass can obstruct your shot and impede a struck ball once hit, leading to short, less accurate shots.
A tee removes much of that. You still have to make a drive with the right thrust and lift, and accuracy, but the tee helps by creating a launching pad for your ball.
Without a Tee
Golfing without a tee increases the likelihood that a drive or shot (when an exception is made) will not travel as far, high, or accurately as it is more difficult to get a clean shot off the ground with a driver than with a wood, iron, or wedge.
When striking a ball with a driver, the larger head and face increase the likelihood of an obstacle impeding the club and affecting the shot. Additionally, longer or thicker grass comes into play more.
Things to Consider About Selecting Golf Tees
Because golf tees play an important part in a golfer’s driving game, selecting golf tees requires more than picking up the first bag of tees you see at a pro shop. There are several aspects of golf tees to consider before choosing a specific type or brand.
Course Design and Layout
The course layout is a key factor in selecting the right type of golf tees.
If the course you are playing has a lot of longer fairways, where booming drives are required, or the norm, a longer tee can provide a stable platform that allows for more lift and distance.
If the course you are playing has a lot of shorter fairways or several par-3 holes, where you will use irons off the tee box, shorter tees are the best choice because they are closer to the natural flow of an iron club, and they will not break as easily.
For courses that are a mix of long and short fairways, it pays to have several sizes of tees on board. Maintaining multiple tees per round of golf lets the golfer adapt their tee strategy to course conditions. Tee packages with varying sizes are also very beneficial for beginner golfers as it lets them experiment and find the best golf tee for their particular needs.
Golfers with a downward attack angle tend to break tees often. That can mean having to replace a tee every hole and having to buy them more often. A golfer that employs that type of shooting style may want to look at stronger tee materials such as bamboo or plastic. Golfers that utilize a less aggressive swing can go with more traditional tee materials.
Color and Design
Finding a tee in the grass after a drive can be painful if the grass is thick. Additionally, a well-marked tee can provide a clearer “beacon” when lining up your drive. Using brightly colored tees can help you find the tee after a shot and provides a clearer point of focus when you shoot.
As small as they are, golf tees can have their own “personality.” That translates into a subtle but discernible difference between various types of golf tees. Depending on your swing and attack style, you might prefer a specific type of tee or a specific type of tee in specific circumstances.
For example, you might prefer a longer tee on a certain course because of how you need to make a drive. You also might want a shorter tee on drier courses because shorter tees tend to hold their position more consistently.
Another consideration is the difference between plastic and wood. Wood tees are harder, so cracking and shattering are more likely if a tee gets used repeatedly. Plastic tees do not usually shatter or crack, but they will bend with repeated use.
Wooden tees are also less expensive and are biodegradable, so you do not have to search for one if you lose it.
Biodegradable tees for golfing bring us to this: Golf tee sustainability. Thinking about the sustainability of a golf tee might not be something most golfers think about regularly, but a lack of sustainability can have a significant impact on a course over time.
When you shatter a wooden tee or lose one, it takes a while, but because it is wood, eventually, that golf tee will break down and biodegrade. With plastic tees, if you lose one, it remains for both the foreseeable and unforeseeable future. Thousands of years from now, it is very likely someone will find a plastic golf tee as part of an archeological dig.
If it is just one tee, the impact on the course and the environment is negligible. But think about this scenario. Your local course has golfers that use wood and plastic tees. One lost plastic tee does not make a difference, but what if your course has a couple of hundred golfers in a day and a few dozen lose a plastic tee?
Over time, if the tees are not retrieved, they will add up and become noticeable. If the issue gets ignored, eventually, plastic tees will litter every tee box to the point of irritation.
Not All Golf Tees Are Legal
Not every golf tee on the market is legal to play with in any official capacity. That said if you are playing informally or at a driving range, you can usually use whatever tee you want. Here is a summary of the rules that govern golf tees.
What The Rules Say About Legal Tees
Every sport has rules, and golf is no exception. Whether you play strictly by the rules, “generally follow” the rules, or do not follow the rules at all is up to you. If, however, you play on an official course in an official tournament, the rules that apply to all pro and sanctioned amateur tournaments will apply. Those rules affect golf tees in the following ways:
- No tee can exceed 4 inches in length
- The design of the tee cannot manipulate a shot
- Tee design cannot alter the movement of the ball (velocity or direction.)
The 4-inch length rule ensures the ball will clear debris or grass in almost any driving situation. One exception is if the grass in the tee box is exceptionally high. Another is if, under winter rules, there is a lot of debris in the playing area.
What Tees Are Illegal?
Generally, any specialty tees that advertise any ball manipulation are considered illegal. Ball manipulation is described as any design that alters the direction of the ball or allows for aiming the ball in a manner inconsistent with a traditional tee.
For example, if a tee helps a ball curve to one side or another, it is illegal. Interestingly, tees advertised as lengthening the distance of a drive are technically legal as long as they do not exceed the tee-length rule.
You should also be aware of course rules. Some golf courses have their own rules regarding what tees can and cannot be used. The following are some rules governing tees that many courses employ:
- A prohibition on plastic tees
- A prohibition on metal tees
- Mandate to pick up all plastic or metal tees before moving on
- Requirement to use tees in play beyond driving due to course conditions
- Permissions to use tees in play beyond driving due to course conditions
Having covered the major points of consideration regarding golf tees, here is a list of 8 that will serve you well if you choose them.
Top 8 Golf Tees
Not all golf tees are created equal. These stand out for durability, function, and value.
Flightpath Premium Golf Tees
Flightpath is a premier name in golfing tees, and the company produces tees that are extremely durable and very affordable. The tees are available in 2.75 and 3.25 inches and packaged eight to a pack. Bulk purchases are also available at most Flightpath Golf Tees retailers.
The golf tee itself is a standout, as one of the first directional tees specifically designed to reduce friction and ball spin. Both add up to hitting a golf ball further and with more control than traditional tees, and the ball travels significantly faster.
To attain the quality standards the company expects, Flightpath golf tees are polycarbonate and have been robotically tested, reviewed, and approved for legal play.
Pride Professional Tee System
Pride Professional tees are the most used tee on the PGA tour. Made of hardwood, they are both durable and sustainable, reducing waste that hangs around on the golf course. One innovative feature is the Pride Professional sizing system.
The company offers tees as follows:
- One 1/2-inch tees have an orange marker painted on them
- 2 1/8 inch tees have a red marker
- 2 3/4 inch trees have a yellow marker
- 3 1/4 inch tees have a blue marker
- 4-inch tees have a green marker
The thickness of the wood used to create the tees also separates Pride Professional tees from its competitors. Each tee is engineered to reduce friction and contact with the ball, increasing overall speed. Professional Pride tees come in multiple-size packets, including 135 tees in a package.
Callaway Par-Tee Golf Tees
Callaway and golf go hand in hand, and the Par-Tee golf tees the company offers are no exception.
Known for exceptional durability, the Callaway Par-Tee golf tees are plastic and offer a co-molded construction of a durable plastic base and ultra-smooth rubberized head.
Additionally, the tip has been hardened and sharpened to ensure easy placement, no matter how hard or dry the tee box is.
Par-Tee tees come in 3 1/4 inches, which ensures compliance with the United States Golf Association rules. Engineered to deliver low spinning trajectories, the Par-Tee tees are ideal for larger driver heads. The lower spin allows golf balls to travel further and faster, resulting in longer and more accurate drives.
The standout feature of the Callaway Par-Tee tees is their durability, however. Callaway describes them as “virtually unbreakable.” Made of incredibly strong plastic, Par-Tee tees resist cracking or breaking as well as bending. Their durability also makes them perfect for divot repair tools and cleaning the grooves in your irons.
Callaway Par-Tee golf tees come in black, white, green, blue, and red.
Zero Friction ZFVictory 5-prong Maximum Distance Golf Tees
Since 2005, when Zero Friction was launched, their tees have been one of the most widely used on the PGA tour. The company boasts that its tees have been involved in over 70 victories on the tour.
The ZFVictory tee is a design that offers the traditional feel of a closed cup with a 5-pronged, specially designed, contoured performance cup. ZFVictory tees are perfect for players that are hesitant about moving from wood to plastic but are looking for a product that will still enhance their overall golf game.
While the look and feel are different, Zero Friction asserts that using them will add, on average, at least “five more yards” to a tee shot. Each tee is composed of a “bio-composite” material that Zero Friction claims adds stability to the tee, both when placed in the ground and when a ball is put on top of it.
Zero Friction ZFVictory tees are 2 3/4 long and available in purple, blue, green, white, and black. The standard package has 40 tees.
Champkey Premium Hybrid Plastic Golf Tees
Sleek with a memorable design, the five-pronged Champkey Hybrid plastic tee is about as durable a golf tee as you will find. Made from a proprietary blend of polymer resin, the Champkey tees come in two sizes: 2 3/4 and 3 1/4. The reduced contact with the ball the prongs provide means less ball contact, which means further drives.
Champkey sells these tees in two colors, green and blue. The tees are also striped to provide more of a target when lining up a shot. Do not delay ordering these tees as they are very popular, and you may want to consider ordering off the Champkey website itself.
MAZEL Natural Bamboo Golf Tees
MAZEL bamboo golf tees are generally considered the best-looking bamboo tees on the market. Their base product also offers several options, including two lengths of 2 3/4 and 3 1/4 inches. Packs are typically sold in 50 or 120 batches.
Each MAZEL Natural Bamboo tee is 100% bamboo hardwood, which is beautiful, durable, and biodegradable. That means it has a neutral impact on the environment. MAZEL’s tees come in black/brown, blue, natural, green, light blue, white, yellow, pink, and beige. Each tee has stripe markings to help golfers aim their shots more accurately.
The company maintains that the glossy cup reduces surface contact with the ball, which reduces side spin and provides drives that are more accurate and travel greater distances.
Because of the diversity of sizes in the standard package, MAZEL Natural Bamboo golf tees are perfect for beginner golfers looking to improve their game.
Wedge Guys PGA Bamboo Tees
Wedge Guys bamboo tees come in one size: 2 3/4 inches. They are made 100% of bamboo, which makes them significantly stronger and more durable than traditional wooden tees.
Additionally, the Wedge Guys tees are biodegradable, which ensures that even if you lose one, it will not cause any ecological damage.
At around $10 for 250 tees, Wedge Guys tees are affordable. The bang for the buck increases dramatically when you consider how long the average tee lasts. One pack will provide the average golfer with many rounds, and if you are conservative with your tees, one pack can last an entire season or more.
Martini Golf Tees
Martini golf tees, called such because of their martini-glass cup at the head of the tee, are extremely popular because of their design and the bright colors they come in. Extensive testing by the manufacturer, ProActive Sports, Inc., has proven that the slight lean forward of the tees reduces resistance on the ball and extends the length of the average drive.
The bright colors of the tees make them easy to locate after a shot. The plastic is advertised as “darn near impossible to break.” Martini tees are available in a 3 1/4-inch size and come in multiple colors, such as orange, red, and yellow.
Here are some popular questions asked by people looking into what type of golfing tees to purchase.
What golf tees do the pros use?
Most pros will use whatever tee gets provided at a tournament. In the PGA, wooden golf tees are the standard choice for tournaments. Pros in a tournament get their tees for free if they want them, so whether the pro golfers do not care or just want to use free equipment, wooden golf tees are what most use during a tournament.
What the pros use when practicing or playing for leisure is anyone’s guess. More than likely, however, they will opt to use wooden tees because that is what is used during most tournaments.
Do plastic tees damage golf clubs?
Plastic golf tees will not damage clubs any more than wooden tees will. The one way plastic tees can alter your clubs is the pain on the tee can sometimes transfer to the head of your club.
Are all Golf Tees legal?
No. The United States Golf Association has rules that govern tees. The rules include maximum length when tees can be used and other legal uses of tees beyond driving shots.
Are plastic tees better than wood?
Each type of golf tee has its positives and negatives. In terms of the environment or the golf course, wood is better because they biodegrade if the golfer loses them.
Do golf tees really matter all that much?
The answer to this question depends on who you discuss the issue with. Some people will swear that golf tees make an observable difference, while others will insist the impact is fairly minor.
Golf tees are one of the overlooked aspects of a well-rounded game. By adding distance and improving fairway accuracy, tees can help a golfer gain and maintain an edge. The next time you are out, make sure you try out one of the tees on this list.