Golf Blog Feature

How to Tee Off and Start Your Round

Every round starts with an opening tee shot, and the first tee can be a daunting prospect on some courses. Often the clubhouse will overlook the tee so you'll usually have people watching and there's nothing worse than topping it in that situation. Whether you are a beginner, or a long time player, read on and see if some of our thoughts help you with the opening tee shot.

Tee Off Tips for Opening Shot Success

Here are our top tips for teeing off if starting a round of golf makes you nervous.


Sounds easy but at times it isn't! Try to focus on what you are doing rather than what's going on around you or where the ball may go. If you're playing with others just ask someone to watch where your ball goes so you can focus on what you are doing.

Don't Rush

If you're under pressure to tee off quickly and get going, just take a few seconds to make sure you've got your setup right and then trust your golf swing and training. Rushing usually leads to a top or a slice into the rough. If you're feeling nervous, rather than trying to hit the ball as far as you can, swing less than 100% and try to get the opening tee shot in play. That will help you get the round off to a good start and help your confidence for the remainder of the round.

If you do hit a poor tee shot, remember even the best players like Bubba Watson have to shout "fore" every now and again...

Select the Right Club

Look at your course map and work out what club you need to hit off the first tee to get your round going in a positive manner. Just because it's a par 5 doesn't mean you need to hit a driver. Maybe a 3 wood or hybrid will set you up perfectly. Look for hazards around the distance you normally drive the ball and if something is in your likely landing area, just take a club less and leave it short of the water or bunker. It's really important to get the ball in play first and foremost. Don't try to be Tiger Woods on the first tee.

Teeing Off with a Driver

For the driver, you'll need a long tee, I strongly recommend a packet of MeasureTees. These have markings up the side so you can check how deep the tee is. This will really help you to create a standardized approach to teeing off. You can get the ones I use from Amazon below:

AckBrands MeasureTees Golf Tees

Teeing up - For the modern driver, you need to tee the ball nice and high. The correct setup is shown below:

Correct height for teeing up a driver

This is a good height that promotes a good connection with the club in the sweet spot, that the larger more modern drivers have. If you do find that you're getting under the ball, try to swing more level (not up and down) and around your body to create a sweeping driver arc.

If you're out practicing, and you don't buy the AckBrands MeasureTees Golf Tees one of my top tips is to get your tee to the desired height and then just mark it with a sharpie where it comes out of the ground. Then mark a few other tees the same and keep them as your driver tees. This takes the guesswork out of teeing up your driver and will mean fewer mistakes.

Stance - When hitting a driver, or 3 wood, the ball should be in line with your front foot as shown below. It's important to get the setup right for the club, you'll have a wider stance for the driver with the ball positioned more forward in your stance so that you can hit the ball with a powerful upward strike. Setting up properly with the driver will help make sure you get the maximum from the club and hopefully get a little more distance when needed.

Correct stance when teeing off with a driver or 3 wood

This will help you connect with the ball at the best point in your swing to gain added distance and reduce spin. Generally, you don't want to be putting backspin on your drives, you want them hot and running on the fairway as far as possible. Every time you address the ball for a tee shot you should make sure your stance and ball position is correct for the club you have.

The swing - Use your natural swing and try and swing through the ball to a full finish. Don't try to hit at the ball. The ball should simply get in the way of a full swing and connect with the driver at the most optimal moment.

3 Wood Tee Shots

At some time you may want to hit a 3 wood off the tee to get a little more loft, or to lay up short of a hazard. Or even perhaps if you're struggling with your driver and need to get a couple of tee shots in play. Another good time to choose a 3 wood is if there is a heavy wind at your back as the higher flight of a 3 wood shot may carry even further than a driver!

Lower the tee around 1/4 of an inch and you'll be about right in terms of tee height. If the tee does seem too high, adjust it accordingly, but you don't want the tee height the same as your driver. If your 3 wood has a considerably smaller head then lower it 1/2 an inch.

Teeing Off with Irons

Your stance will need to vary depending on the iron. For a longer iron (1-3) you'd have a wide stance, for a mid-iron (4-6) an average stance and for short irons a tight stance (which helps to get more spin - see my guide to getting backspin here). Here's a brilliant image from Golf Digest showing the correct stance width for different irons (click here for source article)

Tee shot with irons - the correct stance by Golf digest

Teeing up - Unlike the driver, your iron tees should only be around 1/4 of an inch above the ground - basically, just the head of the tee showing.

Teeing Off with a Hybrid

While hybrids initially started as more of a recovery club for use in the light rough, these clubs are becoming more and more common as tee shot clubs. Some people love them, like me, but some traditionalists still think they shouldn't be allowed in golf. These are a good option for teeing off when you need a mid-distance carry, or aren't confident enough to be hitting the driver from that specific tee.

Your tee should be at a mid-height, around 3/4 of an inch above the ground, nowhere near the height of a driver or 3 wood but still above an iron tee. If you look at the club the ball should be positioned roughly halfway up the club face. With the varying types of hybrid clubs, it's difficult to give an exact height, but if you start halfway up the face and then tweak from there you'll find the perfect tee height for your club.