How Does Tee Height Affect Driving Distance?
Believe it or not, tee height can actually have a significant effect on how far you are hitting your driver. Many golfers tee their ball up without too much forethought, but it should be an important consideration before you hit your shot.
Golf is a game of so many variables, but to maximize your performance you need to think about everything that has an impact on your golf shot. Your swing, clubs and ball are all impact factors that golfers know about. Yet, many golfers do not realise the impact tee height has on shot shape and distance. Especially when hitting a driver.
In this article we will discuss what the correct tee height for a driver should be, what impact a lower or higher tee height can have and how you could potentially gain more driving distance.
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What is the correct tee height for a driver?
Research conducted by Golf showed that on average PGA coaches recommend teeing the ball up at 1.5 inches with your driver. Another rougher estimate is that when you rest the sole of your driver to the ground and address the golf ball, roughly half the ball should be showing above the crown.
Tee height and driving distance
You may have heard the phrase, “tee it high and let it fly” used on the golf course before. This is actually pretty accurate, with many golfers giving up significant distance due to teeing the ball too low. Research by MyGolfSpy showed that by teeing your driver up at 0.5 inches vs 1.5 inches you can be sacrificing upwards of 15 yards. That is a huge difference!
The correlation between tee height and distance is down to the effect it has on your swing and the direction of the club when it makes impact with the ball. When you tee the golf ball higher it becomes more natural to swing flatter and hit up into the golf ball. Modern drivers have a low center of gravity placed deeper in the club head, so are designed to be hit with an upward angle of attack. By teeing it higher you help to create this angle of attack, which launches the golf ball higher and with less spin. The result is that the golf ball travels further.
Teeing the ball too high
As we mentioned above, a higher tee height will affect your angle of attack and force your approach to be shallower. One of the impacts of this is that your club head also has more time to turn over through the impact zone. This can be perfect for hitting a drawing ball flight, but in more extreme cases it can result in a hook.
If you are hitting a high hooking ball flight with your drives, this could be a sign to lower your tee height slightly. A ‘snap-hook’ is more likely to be a swing fault though.
Teeing the ball too low
The opposite happens when you tee the ball too low, because in order to find the sweet spot of your driver you are forced to make a steeper swing. By hitting down onto the ball you create more spin, which results in a loss of distance.
A steeper swing also means that you can often approach the ball with an open clubface, which is the number one cause of a slice. Teeing the ball too low is unlikely to be the root cause of a golfer hitting a big slice, however it can certainly exacerbate the problem.
Do you ever want to tee it lower with a driver?
Teeing it higher is definitely more likely to help you gain extra distance off the tee, but teeing it lower can also be a really useful skill if you use the correct technique. A lower tee is perfect when playing in windy and firm conditions, so it is important to learn if you play any links golf courses.
When driving into a headwind a lower running tee shot is often the best solution to find more distance and accuracy. You want to tee the ball lower, but adjust the ball position and technique so that you are not leaning forward into the shot. If you try to hit down on the ball, you will get more spin and the golf ball will balloon into the wind. This is a difficult shot to master, but one a lot of elite golfers should be able to hit.
Teeing to a height of 1.5 inches is going to give the majority of golfers the optimal launch angle with their driver and help maximize their distance. By hitting up into the golf ball you best utilise modern drivers with their higher launching and with lower spinning characteristics.
This height is a generic measurement though and suited to ‘normal’ playing conditions. For golfers that play seaside links courses or have abnormal golf swings, there could be a different tee height that will be better driving distance.
A good tip is to grab a bag of long 2.5 inch wooden tees and experiment with driving off different tee heights to find your sweet spot. Recreational golfers have incredibly varied swings, so what might work for one golfer won’t for another.
If you can get used to teeing it up a bit higher though, chances are you will find yourself hitting the ball a bit further.