Which tees should you *really* play from? This clever formula will tell you

Choosing which tee box to play from can be challenging, but these simple rules can make it easier.

Getty Images

Welcome to Stuff Golfers Should Know, a GOLF.com series in which we reveal all kinds of useful golf (and life!) wisdom that is sure to make you the smartest, savviest and most prepared player in your foursome.

Choosing the proper tee box from which to play can be a difficult task — especially for inexperienced golfers. For some, ego gets in the way and they tee it back way too far. For others, naivety leads them to believe they need to play from the same markers every time. And for the rest, a lack of proper information keeps them from making an informed decision on where to peg it from.

That’s where we come in to help. At this week’s GOLF Top 100 Teacher Retreat, in Arizona, we asked instructor Jon Tattersall for a pro’s perspective on choosing the proper tees. His answer can serve as a guiding light next time you’re struggling to find the correct tee box for your game.

tony finau
What makes Tony Finau so good? We asked him and coach Boyd Summerhays
By: Sean Zak

“The best players I coach, they cover about 50 percent of the hole with their driver on a par-5,” Tattersall says. “And they’re covering about 60 to 70 percent of the hole with driver on a par-4.”

In simpler terms, that means if you’re playing a par-5 from, say, 520 yards, you should be able to hit your tee shots around 260 yards. Or if you’re playing a par-4 from 380 yards, you should be able to knock your drives roughly 250 yards.

Tattersall said that if you hit driver well and are still not covering 60 percent of the hole on a par-4, it’s time to move up a tee box.

“Most second shots, for good players, come from between 125 and 175 yards,” he says. “So what should you work on? Not many 4-irons. If you are hitting a lot of those into greens, you’re not playing far enough up.”

Heed this advice if you find yourself struggling to determine the proper tees, and don’t be afraid to move up a tee box if need be. Your scorecard (and your playing partners) will thank you for it.


Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.