Illegal Golf Tees List from Golf Coaches at Tell Me More Golf and What Makes Golf Tees Illegal or Legal

I’m the head golf instructor at Tell Me More Golf, and in this article, I will reveal our illegal golf tees list, how you can spot non-conforming golf tees, and much more in this ultimate guide.

Golf tees are a fundamental part of golf, as you’ll most likely use one on every single tee box. Most golfers stick to traditional plastic or wooden tees, but it can be fun and even useful to use special tees.

However, it’s important to know which ones are legal, so you don’t risk breaking any rules.

List of Illegal Golf Tees

Here, we’ve made a list of illegal golf tees you should stay away from if you want to follow the rules of golf. 

Flight Path Golf Tees

Flight path golf tees are always illegal, as they affect the golf ball’s ball flight.

These tees are typically meant to help with a slice, which many amateurs struggle with.

It’s not easy to say how much of an impact they have, but nonetheless, they’re illegal. 

Tees Longer than 4 Inches 

Golf tees can never be longer than 4 inches. This is already a very long tee, as you’d typically hit a driver shot with a ball teed up significantly less than 2 inches. Some golfers, and especially long drivers, would perhaps like to use a longer tee than 4 inches, but they can’t. 

Non Conforming Golf Tees Helping With Alignment

Golf tees can have fun designs, as long as they’re not non conforming. Non conforming tees are golf tees with special designs that help the golfer in some way. The most common illegal non conforming tee is a tee that helps with alignment, which is always illegal.


What Makes a Golf Tee Illegal?

There are very clear rules set by the USGA and R&A on how a golf tee is allowed to be made, and if a golf tee does not comply with those rules, it’s considered illegal. However, it should be noted that most golf tees sold are legal, as manufacturers know what they’re doing

To help you with figuring out which tees are illegal, you can look at these requirements for a legal tee:

The Tee Can’t Help You With Alignment

All golf tees that can help you with alignment in any way are illegal. One way a golf tee might do this is by featuring a large design, where a part of the tee can be seen when standing over the ball. If this is the case, you can aim better with the help of the tee, giving you an unfair advantage. 

The Tee Can’t Impact the Ball Flight

There’s a thing called flight path golf tees, and they reduce the friction between the tee and the golf ball, resulting in a shot that becomes straighter and sometimes longer. This is, of course, not legal as it also gives you an unfair advantage. 

The Tee Can’t Be Longer than 4 Inches 

There’s a limit to how long a golf tee can be, and it’s 4 inches maximum. However, 4 inches is already extremely long for a tee, and most amateur golfers wouldn’t benefit at all from something longer.

But with that said, professional long drivers might want to use something even longer, as their advanced swing mechanics combined with a longer tee can produce better drives. To give you some perspective, regular golfers almost always tee the golf ball lower than 2 inches when hitting a driver. 


How Can You Spot an Illegal Golf Tee?

Spotting an illegal golf tee can both be very hard and very easy. The two easiest things to look out for are a very irregular shape or an extremely tall design

Very Irregular Shape

Golf tees with very irregular shapes, such as an Octo tee, might not be legal. In some cases, a prominent design can lead to alignment help, and in other cases, a weird-looking design may affect the shot.

In both of these cases, the tee is illegal.

Looks Extremely Tall

The limit for how long a golf tee can be is 4 inches. This is much longer than standard long golf tees, but if you see a golf tee that looks ridiculously long, there’s a chance of it being illegal. 


Should You Use Non Conforming Golf Tees?

Non conforming golf tees are illegal. However, if you want to use them for casual play, they can make the game easier and therefore more fun for golfers who don’t want to take their rounds too seriously. 

Martini golf tees are a popular golf tee design, and as they comply with the tee rules, they’re perfectly legal. These tees are shaped like a, you guessed it, martini. They most likely don’t offer any benefits, but they feature a sleek design. 

Brush tees have received some attention in recent years, as some manufacturers claim they offer longer distances. Brush tees are golf tees with bristles on the top, instead of a traditional solid one. 

It’s not really clear how these golf tees affect your game, but they are legal to use as they comply with the golf tee rules. However, we wouldn’t trust anyone claiming that they offer significant benefits. 


What Is a Castle Tee?

A castle tee is a golf tee shaped like a castle. The main reason for using a castle tee is that it’s not straight. Instead, it has a small bulge a little bit over the bottom, which is where the tee starts sticking up from the ground.

This enables you to consistently place the tee at exactly the same height, and there are different-sized tees for your different golf clubs. These are legal and can be very helpful, but they’re not allowed in tournament play. 

What Is an Octo Tee?

An Octo tee is a golf tee with a very special design. It’s essentially a golf tee with many different lengths attached to the same tee. In other words, you can use the tee for all types of teed-up shots. The tee looks a bit like an octopus, with different legs being different tee heights. 

However, as the large and pointy-legged design can help you with alignment, they’re not legal. But they can be fun to use, and they are great during the winter season for tee shots when the golf course is cold and hard. 

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What makes a golf tee illegal?

There are three criteria that all golf tees must follow, and if they don’t, they’re illegal. 

Firstly, the tee can’t be longer than 4 inches. 4 inches is already a very long golf tee, but golfers seeking to hit their longest drives possible might want ones even longer.

Secondly, the tees aren’t allowed to help you with alignment in any way. If the tee is non conforming, there might be something sticking out you can see when the ball is teed up, which can help you with aiming.  

Lastly, the tee can’t impact the ball flight. There is something called flight path golf tees, and they have technology that can help reduce a slice. This is, of course, illegal. 

How can you spot an illegal golf tee?

To spot an illegal golf tee, you should look for something that looks very irregular.

A fun design doesn’t make a golf tee illegal, but if it’s very large in some way, such as being extremely tall or having something sticking out, it might be illegal. 

Generally speaking, a legal golf tee should look like a traditional tee, but fun designs that are conforming acceptable. 

Should you use non conforming golf tees?

Non conforming tees are illegal, which is why you shouldn’t use them. Non conforming tees might impact the golf ball’s flight, leading to you having an unfair advantage.

However, for casual play on rounds where you don’t submit your score, using a non conforming tee can be fun. 

Are there any golf tees that are illegal?

Most golf tees sold are legal, as golf gear manufacturers know the different rules they need to follow.

However, there are illegal golf tees that are sold for golfers looking to either cheat or simply have fun. Some illegal golf tees include tees over 4 inches, tees helping cure a slice, and tees with alignment aids. 

Can you use castle tees in competition?

Castle tees are legal golf tees, as they meet all the necessary criteria. However, as they help you achieve a consistent tee height, they’re banned in competitive play.

So no, you can not use castle tees in most competitions. 

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Why do firefighters carry golf tees?

Some firefighters may carry golf tees or similarly nail-shaped objects on their helmets or in their pockets. This is because they can be used for many different things, with the most notable being the ability to be placed in door jams, where the doors would otherwise close. 



In this article, we’ve discussed what criteria golf tees need to fill to be legal, and what makes them illegal. Illegal golf tees are rarely sold, as stores know what they’re doing. However, some tees can help you with hitting better shots, and if that’s the case, they might be illegal. 


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!

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