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Choosing the best golf tees

Independent golf tips for the professional at Leisure

November 2008

Ever since the first ancient golfer teed-up his leather ball on a mound of wet sand, the golf industry has been obsessed with the best golf tees.  Golf is a game where the players tend to have a high disposable income, and golf tees are yet another way to relieve a golfer from their money. 

While the idea behind a tee is simple, but it’s amazing that some golfers want to show-off and not use a tee.  Arnold Palmer once said “anytime that you can put a peg under your ball, you should do it”.

Some say that the ancient wet sand tee is best. 

I first encountered the concept of using wet sand as a golf tee from my neighbor, who said that the old North Carolina golf courses had a place for water and sand on every tee. 

For the real experience of 19th century golf, I highly recommend Oakhurst Links in West Virginia, America's oldest golf course, where you are required to use hickory clubs, gutta percha balls and sand tees.

The best golf tees are not easy to find.  Everyone is hawking the features of their golf tees, and it's hard to separate the hype from the reality.  Even Tiffany offers a $250 golf tee!

Novelty golf tees


There are some common misconceptions about golf tees, especially the idea that the tee creates drag on your swing. 

This is nonsense, plus the low-drag gold tees are very difficult to use.  The plastic tees are hard to drive into hard soil, and the light top means that the ball must be precisely vertical, else the ball will not balance on the top of the tee.

  Low drag tees are hard to use

But some tees are better than others and there are some real concerns about golf tees:

  • Wooden tees leave ugly paint marks on the bottom of your driver.

  • A good golf tee should be multi-purpose.  A good tee should be useful for repairing ball marks on the green and for cleaning-out the grooves from your long irons.

  • You can be injured when a wooden tee breaks, especially when pressing a cracked tee into hard ground.  This can be very dangerous, and I’ve had a wooden tee punch right through my hand.


My golf coach is PGA Master professional Brad Clayton.  Brad teaches that the ideal height for a golf ball is 1.5x the height of the driver and this requires a long tee.

Brad has these great notes on using tees:

“Most people swing up on the ball {not desirable, but fact}; when the ball is teed up there is more room to get the leading edge of the golf club below the equator of the ball. This makes getting the ball in the air easier. . .

I am of the opinion that if you miss a drive, miss it low. This means low on the club face and also in flight. A ball teed lower {approximately half or less of the ball should be above the top line of the driver face} and struck lower will tend to go straighter and roll further, so your misses will be more in control and also lose little distance if not struck perfectly.

A ball missed high on the face will tend to float and be more influenced by wind. Give me a low penetrating flight any day over a high floating ball. So, tee your balls lower and get more control. “

Choosing the best golf tee

There is a school of thought that the resistance of the tee may impact the distance of the ball, and that low-resistance tees such as "brush tees" are best, giving four yards of additional distance.  Other experts say that the concave base of the golf tee may impact the spin on the ball, and hence the distance.  There are also the "sticky tee" gimmick which says that a sticky tee is best because an anchored ball gives higher impact speed.

Some say that a golf ball contacts the club face for only 450 microseconds, a very short period of time, and that a strong drive will create a ton of force (2,000 lbs), compress the ball by 25% of it's surface.

So, can an ergonomically designed tee make the ball fly farther?  This slow monition video of a gold ball impact clearly shows that the ball is impacted before hitting the tee, but the ball is not yet underway when the tee is hit:

Brad Clayton, PGA master professional says that any advantage of a golf tee is negligible.  Clayton says that if you take ten professional golfers and ask them to hit ten shots with different tees, you will not see any measurable improvement in distance, and hence, there is not such thing as a "better" tee. 

In my humble opinion, the Callaway "eterni tee" is my pick for the best golf tee.  They cost a few dollars each, but they last forever, and these tees are designed with the golfer in-mind.  They are sturdy enough to drive into hard winter soil, the blade at the bottom is perfect for repairing ball marks on the green and the tee blade tip is small enough to clean dirt from your club grooves:




Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright � 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.