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Golf Tees - Choosing the Perfect Golfing Tee

Updated on October 8, 2014

Golfing Tees - More than just a Piece of Wood

I love golf, so much so that just over twenty years ago I quit my job and worked on my golf game. Needless to say nine months later I was back sitting in an office dreaming of fairways and empty mid week golf courses. The reality of my dream was that I lacked both the skill and the incredible drive it takes to be a professional golfer.

Back when I had dreams of a life of golf, money and world travel, golf tees were just the thin bits of wood that kept your ball off the ground on your tee shots. I actually practiced putting the wooden golfing tees in the ground as I wanted a consistent height every time I teed off.

We golfers are nothing if not fanatical about our game and consistency is one of the keys to a better score.

As I have just returned to the game after a long hiatus, let's take a quick journey through the history of the golfing tee and see what it has evolved into.

Photo Credit: The Author.

Golfing Tee Patent
Golfing Tee Patent

A Quick History of the Golfing Tee

The rules of golf date back to 1744 and even then a form of the golf tee existed. What old time golfers would do is make a small peak out of sand and that would be the tee. A messy and inconsistent way to tee up a golf ball. Through the 1800's sand continued to be used until in the late Victorian age when several entrepreneurs decided that there had to be a better way than getting sandy hands after every tee shot.

Patent after patent was filed for rubber and wooden variations of the tee, but it wasn't until the 1920s that golfing tees became the popular piece of golfing equipment we know today.

A huge marketing push that included the Tiger Woods of his day, Walter Hagen, made sure that the Reddy Tee, a wooden golfing tee that was known for its iconic bright red colour (though in an attempt at invention suicide the first in the Reddy Tee series were green, ensuring they were lost instantly in green grass!), was in every golfer's bag.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Public Domain

Plastic Golfing Tees

Progress in the golf tee world

Very soon in my shot at golfing fame I discovered the variable height plastic golfing tee. The advantages of the plastic tee was that they didn't break as often, but more importantly the plastic golfing tees had a fixed height setting. I carried three separate height plastic tees in my bag.

A very short one for for my 7,8 and 9 irons, a medium sized one for my middle irons and then the longest tee for my woods and 3 iron. As I said earlier, inconsistency is a killer in the game of golf. What you need to do is to consistently replicate each success so that it comes naturally.

I guess this makes golf a metaphor for life in general. Who would have thought?

Photo Credit: The Author - Plastic Teas...Giddit?

Plastic Golfing Tees

Pride Professional Tee System Evolution Tee, 2-3/4 inch - 30 Count (Yellow)
Pride Professional Tee System Evolution Tee, 2-3/4 inch - 30 Count (Yellow)

Even better than my old tees in terms of consistency, these plastic golfing tees are marked to ensure that you consistently get the depth of tee you want. Saves carrying around the three different tees I used to as a card carrying failed golfer.


Did you know that a golf tee cannot be over 4" in length, otherwise it is illegal.

— R&A Rule 11

How high should you tee the ball?

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

The Evolution of the Golfing Tee

Friction Vs Distance Vs Spin

The evolution of the golf tee was very slow in the beginning. Nearly 200 years of using a sand mound which were succeeded by half a century of wooden and plastic pegs. By just like air travel, the golf tee has gone on a growth spurt in the last two decades. When I first saw the new golf tees that were available I was struck by how different they were and then I was suspicious as to whether they were all style over substance.

It wouldn't be the first time that marketing had taken over from functionality to get the casual player to pay more for a product of non ascertainable benefit. Think of the difference between a pair of $50 and $300 trainers, a triumph of style and gimmick over substance.

However after just a little research it seems that science got together with golf and discovered that the resistance, friction and spin that is created by the tee when the ball is struck is a distance killer. So greater minds than mine worked on a solution to the these problems and come up with a varying array of solutions.

A few notable ones include:

The Teflon Coated Tee - The head of the tee is coated with the slickest substance known to man, reducing any friction and increasing your drives by up to 8 yards.

The Cut Out Head Tee - By greatly reducing the surface area that touches the ball, (achieved by cutting out grooves in the head of the tee), you cut down the friction on the ball which many golfers claim has increased tee distances.

The Mirror Tee - Doing everything a tee I have used doesn't, the mirror tee leans away from the golfer at around 17. The theory behind this tee is that it reduces how much the ball spins. Golfers are claiming up to 20 extra yards with this unusual tee.

The Brush Tee - The head of each one of these has been replaced with a small brush. This reduces to almost zero any friction or impact with the tee which increases the length of your tee shot.

And you thought it was just a golfing tee!

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Public Domain - Charles Darwin - Father of the Evolution Theory.

Brush-T Pack of 3 Oversized (2.4") Golf Tees - Low Friction, More Distance, Consistent Height
Brush-T Pack of 3 Oversized (2.4") Golf Tees - Low Friction, More Distance, Consistent Height

Removing the solid dome of a golfing tee and replacing it with a small brush ensures that no power is taken off the shot and that the friction involved is greatly reduced. Just remember if your tee only affects a 250 yard drive by 2% you are losing 5 yards on every tee shot.


Columbus went around the world in 1492. That isn't a lot of strokes when you consider the course.

— Lee Trevino

Saving the Planet - Biodegradable Golf Tee's

Biotee 100% Biodegradable Golf Tee (2 3/4)
Biotee 100% Biodegradable Golf Tee (2 3/4)

Just when you thought you had seen all the types of golfing tees available, here is the one that will save the planet. Golf courses were once like an elephants cemetery for golf tees. They were an eyesore and especially the plastic ones that never, ever broke down. 100% Biodegradable golfing tees may not lengthen your drive, but they will lengthen the life of the planet.


So What is the Secret to the Perfect Game of Golf?

If you have made it this far you deserve to know it.

There isn't one. Hard work and practice are the only ways your golf game will get better. Shame on you for thinking there was a 'secret'! Now get out there and hit the practice fairways. After you have left me a comment below of course.

Do You Have a Golf Tragic Story?

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