How high should you tee the ball? | Gear Questions You’re Afraid to Ask
Welcome to Gear Questions You’re Afraid to Ask, a GOLF.com series produced in partnership with Cleveland/Srixon Golf. This week we cover tee height and what it means for all your clubs.
How high or low should I tee the ball with my clubs? – Henry R., South Carolina
That’s a good question because how high or low you tee the ball has a huge impact on the type of ball flight you’re likely to produce. And for the matter, tee height isn’t something anyone should take lightly and is definitely not something to overlook.
We’ve broken down some tee tips for you in three different parts to help you better understand tee height dynamics and what it means for every club in the bag. (Except for the putter, of course.)
Tee the ball higher for a higher launch with less spin
To achieve the desired high launch/low spin ball flight that seemingly every professional golfer is capable of these days, you want to tee the ball above the center of the face. The reason for this has to do not only with deadening spin by hitting above the sweet spot but also because the higher on the clubface, the more loft your clubface actually has.
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This refers to the slight curvature of your clubface known as the “roll” from top to bottom (whereas “bulge” references the convex nature of a clubface from left to right). A typical 10-degree driver has upwards of a degree or two of loft on the top half of the face, thus helping you launch ball higher.
As for reducing spin, as mentioned, hitting about the sweet spot will do the trick, but so will actually swinging the clubhead on a more ascending path which a higher tee will help you do. Remember, the max height you should tee the ball (with a driver) is with the equator of the ball no higher than the top edge of the clubface.
Tee the ball lower for more backspin
Your intuition may tell you that to hit the ball lower you should tee it lower, but we’re here to tell you that’s not always the case. If there’s no wind in play, teeing it lower will likely produce a lower shot at first, but it’s still likely to have more backspin than you’d get from the middle or upper region of the clubface. And, when facing the wind coming back at you from the target, even with a lower initial launch, the added backspin may cause the ball to balloon up into sky, robbing you of precious distance.
The point is, teeing it lower can help you hit lower shots sometimes, but into the wind, it might not be your best choice. Also remember, the lowest you should consider teeing it up (with a driver) is with the top of the ball just barely above the top leading edge of the clubface.
Use tees with your irons whenever you can
Obviously, you can’t do this from the fairway, but you should be using a tee from every tee box with your irons to ensure a clean, crisp shot. Also, a slightly lifted ball will help you ensure you make contact with the ball first before scalping the ground.
The ideal tee height is just barely above ground (2-3 millimeters up), but if you want to tack on a few yards and hit your iron further and higher, a centimeter up will do the trick. Any more than that, you’ll likely struggle with finding the sweet spot. And by the way, the same holds true for hybrids and fairway woods. Using a tee barely off the ground will make it easier to make solid contact.
Bonus: If your local practice facility has tees that are too high or too low, best not to use them
Sometimes all you have is a practice mat are your local club to work with, and sometimes, that means using a rubber tee that’s either too tall or way too short. In either case, you’re better off not using either and bringing your own reusable tee and using it whenever you’re relegated to using a practice mat.
Also, if you do practice on grass, it doesn’t hurt to mark your tees with a line to indicate just how far you want to push the ball in the ground. This little hack will help you tee it up the same every time and it’s something you can do to all your tees while playing on the golf course as well.
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