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.

Correct Tee Height for Hitting the Driver

Correct Tee Height for Hitting the Driver

There are few shots in golf which feel as rewarding as sending a long and accurate drive right down the middle of the fairway. When you do manage to launch one perfectly off the sweet spot, you will know it the instant the ball leaves the club face. Not only will you be able to brag about the distance you achieved from the tee, but you will also be able to walk casually down the middle of the fairway while your playing partners search for their golf balls off in the woods. To be sure, every golfer would love to be able to a higher percentage of great drives during each and every round.

Of course, as you already know, golf is a hard game – and it isn't exactly easy to hit beautiful tee shots. The club moves through the hitting area at more than 100 miles per hour in many cases, meaning your timing has to be just perfect if you are going to hit an accurate shot. Given the difficulty of the task, you can't afford to leave anything up to chance. Instead of just standing over the ball and hoping for the best, you need to have a detailed plan in mind before starting your swing. That plan needs to include the smallest of details, including how high you are going to tee the ball up off the ground.

In this article, we are going to take a careful look at this seemingly minor point. The tee height you use when hitting the driver is actually quite an important piece of the overall puzzle, even though it is easy to overlook. If you are willing to take the time to determine the perfect tee height for your driver swing, and then make sure that you are repeating that tee height over and over again, your game will be sure to improve.

While you are working on finding the right tee height for your driver, you should be thinking about other subtle areas of your game where you can find improvement as well. Golf is a game which is all about making small, incremental improvements until you are a better player over the long run. Rather than trying to make drastic changes which will totally remake your game, you should instead be taking the 'slow and steady' approach. Find small things to improve, such as your tee height, and then move on to the next point one at a time. The patience you show throughout this process will be rewarded down the line when you are a vastly better golfer than in years gone by.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Importance of Tee Height

The Importance of Tee Height

In this section, we are going to explain why tee height matters in the first place. One of the biggest advantages you get during any round of golf is the fact that you are allowed to tee the ball up off the ground to start each hole. Hitting the ball off of a tee is far easier than hitting it from the ground, and you will be able to achieve tremendously more distance as a result. However, you need to be sure to avoid wasting this advantage. The rules let you tee the ball up only once per hole – on your first shot – so you better make it count.

The following list includes a few benefits you can enjoy when you place the ball at just the right height on the tee box.

  • Find the sweet spot. If you are going to maximize your driving distance, you need to find the sweet spot on your driver as often as possible. One of the best ways to do just that is to tee the ball up at an appropriate height. On most drivers, the sweet spot is going to be found slightly above what would be the actual middle of the club face, so that is probably the spot you are going to want to target with your swing. Simply teeing the ball at the right height is not enough to ensure you find the sweet spot, of course, but it is a great place to start. With the ball at the right height to match up with the sweet spot, it will then be up to you to deliver a quality swing that puts the club in the correct spot at the correct moment in time.
  • Give yourself some space. Modern driver heads are rather large in size – most of them are built to the established limit of 460CCs – meaning you need to have plenty of room under the ball if you are going to find the sweet spot. Teeing the ball up low to the turf simply doesn't work like it did in years gone by. Sure, you might choose to tee the ball low on occasion (more on that later), but most of the time you are going to need to get the ball up off the ground high enough to give your driver head room to work.
  • Consistency is crucial. As you already know, consistency is hard to come by in the game of golf. Every swing feels a little bit different as you move around the course, and you have to deal with variables like bad lies, changing winds, and much more. If you can add a little bit of consistency to your game in any area, that is an opportunity you should take without hesitation. One of the most important things you can do in terms of tee height is simply to tee the ball up at the same height over and over again. With the ball always in the same spot down in front of you, it will be possible to swing through impact aggressively without any reservations. Using a tee height that is constantly changing will bring doubt into your process, and there is no room for doubt on the golf course.
  • Avoid the slice. As you should already know, the slice is perhaps the single-biggest problem in the amateur game. Countless golfers struggle with a slice, and many of them never manage to fix the issue. By teeing the ball up at the wrong height – specifically, teeing it too low – you can set yourself up for failure. A ball which is teed low to the ground isn't going to give you any room to attack from the inside, so you will have to swing from outside-in just to make good contact. Of course, that outside-in path is what is going to create the slice. If you have a consistent pattern of left-to-right shots coming off your driver, try teeing the ball higher to see if you can quickly correct the issue.

Tee height is an important piece of the driving puzzle. You shouldn't stand on the tee box wondering whether or not the ball is teed at the proper height – you should know for a fact that it is in the right spot so you can focus on the swing itself. As we move forward in this article, we will help you find the perfect tee height, and we will help you repeat that height time after time as the years go by.

Finding Your Ideal Tee Height

Finding Your Ideal Tee Height

Fortunately, the process of finding the ideal tee height for your game is going to be a pretty simple one. It will take just a few moments to find the perfect height for your driver tee shots, and thanks to a handy trick we are going to offer later in this section, you shouldn't need to repeat this process anytime soon. Once the work here is done, you can cross this point off of your to-do list and move on to something else.

To find the right tee height for your driver shots, you are going to need the following –

  • Your driver (of course)
  • A few long tees
  • Some practice golf balls
  • A place to practice on a grass driving range

That's it. You only need those four items to get started, and this will only take a few minutes from start to finish. When you are ready, get yourself setup on the driving range with some golf balls for practice and your driver in hand.

Grab one of the practice balls and tee it up at any given height. It really doesn't matter what height you start with, as you are going to be adjusting it in a moment. Tee the ball up on a long tee, and set your driver head down behind the ball as if you were preparing to hit a shot. Instead of standing up and making a swing, however, you are going to get down on a knee while still holding the driver in position (you will probably want to hold the driver by the shaft to make this easier). You should now be down close where you can get a good look at both the driver head and the golf ball itself.

As you are down checking on your tee height, your goal is to move the ball into a position where half of the golf ball is above the top line of the driver as it is sitting on the ground. In other words, the top line of your driver's face should be lined up perfectly with the equator on the golf ball. This is the right tee height for almost every player. At this height, you will be able to swing up on the ball slightly through impact, but you won't have to lift up so much that you disturb the rest of your swing.

Now that you have found a good tee height, the next step is to make sure you use that same height every time. How do you do that? By marking your tees, of course. Take a marker down to the ground with you and draw a line around the tee at the point where the tee and the turf meet. Once you take the tee out of the ground, use that first tee as a template to mark up several other tees. Now, each time you tee the ball up, you can simply push the tee into the ground to the designated mark, and then swing away. Before each round, mark up a handful of tees so you will always be prepared.

With all of your administrative work done, it is now time to actually hit a few shots. Tee the ball up according to your markings and see what happens to your ball flight. Most likely, this tee height is going to be higher than you are used to, so it might take a few swings to make the adjustment. Also, you may find that you need to tweak this tee height a bit to match your technique – and that's okay. Just remember to adjust your markings as necessary to keep teeing the ball up with consistent elevation shot after shot.

Making Adjustments for Various Situations

Making Adjustments for Various Situations

It is great to have a standard tee height prepared when you head to the course. Most of the drives you are going to hit will fall into the 'standard' category, so you will know exactly how to tee the ball up for those shots. However, there are going to be circumstances along the way where you will want to alter your ball flight – and changing your tee height can help you do just that. The list below includes three ideas for how you can tweak your tee height in order to produce a different kind of shot.

  • Tee it low to avoid the wind. You probably could have assumed that this tip would be on the list. When you face a tee shot that is going to be affected by the wind – specifically, a tee shot that is going to be played directly into the wind – you will want to tee the ball lower. You aren't going to get your normal trajectory out of this kind of shot, but that is actually a good thing. With a lower flight, you can keep your ball out of the strongest winds, and hopefully maximize both distance and control. Not only can you use this tip when you are playing into the breeze, but you can also put it to use when hitting a drive to a narrow fairway. Keeping the ball down will prioritize control over distance, and that is a smart trade to make in some situations.
  • Tee it high to ride the breeze. Just as you can tee the ball up lower than normal in order to avoid the wind, you can use the wind to your advantage by teeing it higher. This is usually going to be your plan of action when the wind is at your back. Launch the ball high up into the sky by teeing it higher than normal and watch it sail impressively toward the target. This is a great way to add distance to your drives, but it is also going to take away some of the control you have over the ball – so only use this plan when you have a wide fairway to work with.
  • Tee it high to turn it over. When you really want to hit a draw, consider teeing the ball a bit higher in order to give yourself more room to work from the inside. We already discussed how teeing the ball low can cause you to hit a slide (or a fade), so it only stands to reason that teeing it high could have the opposite effect. In addition to teeing the ball up higher than usual, stand back an extra inch away from the ball at address to flatten out your swing plane. The combination of a higher tee position and a flatter plane should be all you need to turn the ball over from right-to-left with ease.

Since you have already taken the step of marking your tees to place them in the ground at a consistent height, making adjustments on the fly should be no problem at all. Use the markings on your tees as a reference point and then just move up or down slightly from there to achieve the desired effect. Of course, as is always the case in golf, you should practice these adjustments on the range before you try them on the course. Every golfer will see slightly different results when experimenting with tee height, so take note of how these adjustments affect you and plan accordingly.

Other Driving Tips

Other Driving Tips

By this point, you should have just about all of the information you need on tee height as it relates to hitting drivers. However, there are a few other important points we would like to make about driving the golf ball in general. Add these tips to the instruction provided above regarding tee height and you should be well on your way to the best drives of your life.

  • Take it easy on your effort. This might be a surprising tip, but one of the best things you can do for your driver game is to simply not try so hard. Most amateur golfers are trying so hard to force the ball down the fairway that they lose their balance and rhythm along the way. Rather than trying to max out your power, focus on making a smooth swing which puts the ball right in the middle of the club face time after time. You will be amazed to find how many additional fairways you can hit just by following this simple tip.
  • Put your driver away. One of the best things you can do with your driver during the course of a round of golf is to put it back in your bag. Most likely, some of the holes on your local course were never meant for driver tee shots – and yet countless players hit their driver on those holes each day. Analyze the design of each hole on your favorite course and determine whether or not you should be hitting driver. There will always be plenty of chances to use your driver, but there are sure to be some holes where less club would be a good thing.
  • Play to the wide side. Picking a smart target line is another important key when it comes to hitting drivers. You don't always have to put your ball in the fairway to have a successful drive, as long as you are on the wide side of the hole with an angle into the target. For example, on a dogleg right par four, the left side would be the wide side, as it is going to give you the most room to work. Think about your options on the tee and commit to a target line that provides you with margin for error.
  • Finish your backswing. Many amateur golfers cut their backswings short because they are in a rush to get the shot over with. Since the driver is the longest club in the bag, you will find that it takes a bit of extra time to swing the club all the way around you and back down again. Be patient, give the swing plenty of time to develop, and resist the temptation to rush at the top.

Teeing the ball up at the right height is a small, but important, piece of the overall driver puzzle. Hitting your driver long and straight can do wonders for your golf game, so it is worth working on this skill as you continue to gain experience on the links. Golf is such a great game in large part because there is always something to work on, and always something new to learn. Once you have mastered the ability to tee the ball up at the perfect height, move on to another point and continue your golf education. Good luck!