What’s the first thing a golfer does on every hole? Places the ball on a tee, of course.

    While the basic task is incredibly simple – stick the tee in the ground and put the ball on top – it’s important to do it right. If the ball is teed too high or too low for the club you’re using, you’ll put yourself at a disadvantage before swinging. This is the last thing you want when hitting your driver (#1 wood), because you’ll lose distance and possibly accuracy, too.

    As a general rule when teeing up for the driver, at least half the ball should be above the club’s crown, but the bottom of the ball should never be above the crown. In other words, the top line of the clubface should intersect the ball somewhere between the ball’s center and bottom.

    On the driving range, experiment with different teeing heights to find what works best for you.

    Let’s look at what happens when the ball is teed too high or low.

    Too high: The most common teeing mistake beginners make is to tee the ball too high. This is perfectly understandable, since their primary objective is to get the ball airborne. It makes sense that the higher the ball sits above the ground, the easier it will be to hit it up into the air.

    If the ball sits too high, however, the clubhead may slide completely underneath it, causing the ball to hit to top of the club. It will get airborne, alright – usually going straight up and landing a very short distance away.

    Teeing the ball very high also promotes an upward swing path. While this is generally desirable when hitting the driver, too much of a good thing will produce a shot that launches on a steep angle and travels next to nowhere. Teeing it too high can also cause you to hit behind the ball (because the swing bottoms out too early as you make an exaggerated upward motion). Finally, a ball teed too high may create a swing that’s overly “flat” or horizontal – think of a baseball swing – resulting in pulled or hooked shots to the left (for a right-hander).

    Too low: Teeing the ball too low can, ironically, cause drives that are too high. Why? Because you’ll instinctively hit down on the ball, creating lots of backspin (which sends the ball higher). Of course, teeing up too low can lead to topped and thin shots as well, where the clubhead strikes the ball above its center and sends it very low or straight into the ground. You may also swing too “upright” or vertical at a low-teed ball, causing pushed or sliced shots to the right.

    Bottom line: Pay attention to tee height and you’ll hit longer, straighter drives.