No, You Can’t Use a Tee on The Fairway (Rules Explained)

A golf tee is a really helpful piece of golf equipment that offers some help in getting the ball up off the ground.

However, to use a golf tee on the fairway is not part of the legal rules in the game. Although we all would like a little extra help from the tee, it’s only available to use on a tee shot.

Let’s take a more detailed look at when you can use a tee and whether or not you even should be using one.


When You Can Use a Tee in Golf

A golf tee can only be used on the tee box when standing between the tee markers. The golf tee is used as a way to start your hole, but it is never used again until you make it to the next tee box.

Amateur golfers that are new to the sport are often confused by when and where to use a tee.  If you remember the simple rule that you can only use a tee from a tee box, it should be easy to get this down.

The reason that the USGA put this rule into place was to help golfers get a perfect lie for the start of their hole. Whether you are teeing off with a driver, 5 wood, or even iron, as long as you are on the tee box, you won’t have to worry about using a tee.

The tee box is the area created by the two tee markers; it extends back two club lengths to make a rectangular box known as the teeing ground.

Some golfers will use a tee on the putting green to mark their ball or to fix a pitch mark on the green. However, this is a different use of the tee, and that would be considered legal in the rules of golf.


Do You Have to Use a Tee on a Tee Shot?

can you wear two gloves in golf

There is nothing in the rules of golf that states that you must use a tee on your tee shot. This part of the process is entirely up to you. However, the majority of golfers will use the tee as it can help promote more accuracy in the golf shot being hit.

When you use a golf tee, there is just a bit more confidence that players will have about their ability to make solid contact with the ball.

When using a driver, 3 wood, or even a hybrid off the tee box, there is no denying the fact that a tee is necessary. However, some golfers that play a par 3 hole with an iron will consider skipping the tee.

This personal decision will be impacted a bit depending on what type of player you are and the angles in your swing.


Can You Use a Driver on The Fairway?

Although it is a rare shot, some golfers will think about using a driver on the fairway.

I have to admit that many years ago, this was a much easier shot to pull off than it is today. In fact, I used to play this shot from time to time.

However, the USGA changed the size of a legal golf club head, and as soon as that was done, the concept of hitting a driver off the fairway became a more difficult one. Players all of a sudden were having to swing a 460cc head on a shaft that is typically 45 inches long and expect to get the ball up off the ground.

This is hard to do!

If you have an older, smaller head driver that happens to be in your bag, hitting off the fairway may be considerably easier. These are more like a modern 3 wood and a bit easier to hit on the fairway.

One tip of advice with hitting a driver off the fairway is that this is not a percentage shot, so be careful with what is in front of you and analyze the risk and reward.


How High Should I Tee My Golf Ball?

The golf ball should be teed high enough that the ball can hit the center of the clubface but not too high that you miss the sweet spot. Some players struggle with this exact height, and some tees have markers or indicators on them to help you with the height.

For the driver, I like to place the tee so that the ball is about halfway above the top of the driver’s head. This allows me to swing up on the golf ball and still hit the center of the clubface. Most of the time a low friction driver tee is best to help with additional distance.

When it comes to irons and hybrids, the height of the tee does not need to be nearly as high. In fact, with the iron shot, it’s best to simply have the ball resting on the ground just held up by the tee.

If you tee the ball incredibly high with an iron, you may miss the distance and spin you expect with the club.


Can A Beginner Use A Tee On A Fairway?

Sometimes new golfers head out to the golf course with a professional and work on the basics of the course. The pro may offer to tee you up in the fairway as opposed to the tee box just to make sure the shot into the green is considerably shorter.

This is often seen with juniors at golf courses with no junior golf tees up close to the green. Therefore it makes sense for golfers to think about using a tee on the fairway to set the player up close to the hole.

Of course, this will not be acceptable in the USGA rules of golf, but it is also not a tournament situation. If you are teaching a young junior to play, feel free to tee them up 100 yards from the hole in the fairway and see how they do learning the game from this position.


Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children.