What Tees Should You Play From? (Our Golf Coach’s Formula)

What Tees Should You Play from Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach Advice and Our Formula for Handicap Factors

I’m the head golf instructor at Tell Me More Golf, and in this article, I will cover the basics of what tees you should play from. There are many factors involved when making this choice, and now we’ll discuss our tee calculation formula, what the tee colors mean, and much more.

Our Formula for Tee Calculation 

Using a formula is a great way to get a general idea of which tees you should play from. However, this formula we will present isn’t one hundred percent accurate, and you can always decide for yourself how you want to play golf.

The formula we like to use is taking the average distance you hit your 5 iron and multiplying it by 36.

Now, you get a number which represents an appropriate course length for you to play. 

It’s important to note that this formula doesn’t always work for golfers who really struggle with hitting their mid irons, but might be able to hit a hybrid great. However, it’s often quite accurate, and it’s important that you’re honest with yourself about your carry distance. 


Handicap Factor – Can You Use Handicap in the Tee Calculation? 

Using your handicap is not a great way to find which tee suits you, as your distances are the biggest factor.

Instead, use our 5 iron distance formula. 

To give you a clearer idea of what our presented tee formula means, you can see this chart showing 5 iron carry distances and an appropriate course length. The formula used is taking the 5 iron carry distance and multiplying it by 36, giving you a good course length in yards. These numbers are generally true for most golfers, no matter what their handicap is. 

5 Iron Carry DistanceAppropriate Course Length
100 yards3600 yards
125 yards 4500 yards
150 yards5400 yards
175 yards6300 yards
200 yards7200 yards

Golf Tee Colors Meaning

In golf, tee boxes are typically color-coded to indicate their course distance and difficulty. The color of the tee box can also be used to show which gender or age group for which the tee is intended, but it should always be taken with a grain of salt

While the specific colors of tee boxes can vary from course to course, here are some general guidelines for what golf tee colors typically mean:

Black Tees

The black tees are typically the longest and most difficult tee box on the course.

They are generally used by professional or highly skilled golfers, and they’re what is used in most tournament play.

In general, these tees are for golfers who hit their driver over 270 yards

Blue Tees

The blue tees are usually the next longest and most difficult tee box after the black tees. They are intended for skilled golfers who can hit their drives an average of 250 to 270 yards. You should be confident in your driving game before moving from the whites to the blues. 


White Tees

The white tees are the middle tee box, and they’re made for the intermediate golfer who hits their drives an average of 210 to 250 yards. These tees are where we recommend most male golfers to play from. 

Red Tees

The red tees are typically the shortest tee box and are usually intended for beginners, juniors, seniors, and women who hit their drives an average of less than 210 yards. Playing from these tees are often the best choice for new golfers, as the short distance gives them a greater chance of hitting greens in regulation. 

Other Tee Colors

In addition to these four main colors, some golf courses may have more tee boxes of different colors to provide more options. For example, some courses may have gold tees for senior golfers or green tees for juniors

At the end of the day, the tee colors’ goal is to provide a range of options that allow golfers of all skill levels to enjoy the game and play a course length that suits their abilities.


Professional Golf Guidelines Regarding Tees 

The professional golf guidelines regarding which tee a golfer should play from say that the golfer should play a tee box matching their golfing skills.

In other words, experienced golfers who hit the ball a long way should play from further back tees, such as the blues, while inexperienced golfers who are short-hitters should use the forward tees.

Why Are Tee Box Guidelines Important?

It’s important to follow the tee box guidelines to ensure that you don’t put yourself in a position that you can’t handle and so you can maintain pace of play.

Golfers who hit the golf ball relatively short will struggle greatly if they play a 7000+ yard golf course, and they’ll likely take a long time, which will annoy other golfers.

On the other hand, long-hitters who tend to score low shouldn’t always play the forward tees, as they’ll finish the holes too quickly and disturb the groups in front. But with that said, you’re allowed to play from any tee you want. 


Golf Tees By Age

It’s challenging to say exactly what tee you should play from depending on your age. Here, we’ve tried to give you a general idea based on averages. 

Golf Tees for 7 to 15-Year-Olds 

The right set of tees for 7 to 15-year-olds, who are very young golfers, is almost always the most forward tees, which are usually the reds or a specific junior tee. However, note that there’s a big difference between being 7 and 15 years old. 

Golf Tees for 15 to 20-Year-Olds 

15 to 20-year-old golfers usually have quite a good driving distance, especially on the higher end of the age spectrum. These golfers can often play the white tees

Golf Tees for 20 to 35-Year-Olds 

20 to 35-year-olds usually have the longest distances out of all golfers. When you’re this age, you can often play the whites or even blues. The black tees can also be used for the longest hitters.

Golf Tees for 35 to 55-Year-Olds 

For 35 to 55-year-olds, white tees are usually a good choice. The reds can be viable if you’re a shorter hitter, but the whites are often great.

Golf Tees for 55+ Year-Olds 

55+ year-olds are often classified as senior golfers, which is why the red tees are usually the best choice. However, if you hit the ball relatively long, the whites can also be great.


Does Teeing It Forward Help? 

We would definitely say that teeing it forward will lower most golfers’ scores. This is because a shorter course allows for more mistakes, and gives you better scoring opportunities.

However, if you’re a long hitter who’s used to always hitting driver from the blues or blacks, teeing it forward can be quite difficult. This is because you need to think differently about your game. We do recommend trying this out though, as it can help improve your short game

When to Move from White to Blue Tees

When simplified, we think that you should move from the white tees to the blue tees when you’re consistently hitting your driver over 250 yards. 250 yards might not be enough on longer courses though, and to be on the safe side, we can confidently say that most golfers hitting it 260+ can play the blues without too much hassle. 


TellMeMoreGolf.com – Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know what tees to play from?

You can use our tee calculation formula to know which tees you should play from. Simply take your average 5 iron carry distance and multiply it by 36. Then you receive a good course length for your distances. 

What tees should I play based on my handicap?

Your handicap doesn’t say too much about which tees you should play from, since distance is the biggest factor.

However, it’s safe to say that most lower handicaps can play from tees further back, such as the blues, while high handicappers and beginners will most often have more fun on the reds. 

What tees should a 13 year old play from?

Most 13-year-old golfers won’t hit the golf ball as far as grown-ups, but they’re usually pretty athletic. For beginner 13-year-old golfers, we recommend the red tees, and for more experienced ones, the whites are usually good. 

What tees should I play according to my 5-iron distance?

You can use a tee calculation formula by taking your average 5 iron carry distance and multiplying it by 36. When you’ve done that, you get an appropriate course length in yards.

What tees do most golfers play from?

Most male golfers play from the white tees, while most female golfers play from the red tees. Sometimes if your course has more tee options, this answer can change. 

What age do you hit from senior tees?

Most golfers begin playing from the senior tees when they reach an age over 55. However, this number is very individual, and many senior golfers still hit the golf ball a long enough way to play tees further back.

Age alone is also not a great metric of which tees you should play from, since some golfers may lose distance in their 40s while some hit the ball longer and longer as they age but also improve. 



In this article, we’ve covered the basics regarding which tees you should play from. Finding the right tee box for your golf game can be tricky, but generally speaking, shorter hitters should play forward tees, while longer hitters should play further back tees.
Your skill level also impacts tee selection, as someone who’s very consistent can handle back tees better. You can use a tee calculation formula to give you an idea of what course length and tees suit you, by taking your 5 iron distance and multiplying it by 36.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
Our golf instructor team brings it all to you, so enjoy!

2 thoughts on “What Tees Should You Play From? (Our Golf Coach’s Formula)”

  1. The company’s professional golf instructors have truly outdone themselves with this eye-opening article. A must-read guide that empowers golfers to make strategic decisions, ensuring an enjoyable and fulfilling round of golf every time.

    1. Patrick Corley

      Hats off to the professional golf instructors for shedding light on the crucial question of “What Tees Should You Play From?” This article offers a comprehensive guide, considering factors like skill level, distance, and enjoyment, empowering golfers to make informed decisions that enhance their playing experience. A must-read for those seeking the perfect tee box challenge.

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