The Wooden Peg
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We don't tend to give it much thought, but the idea that we get to start each hole by placing the ball up on top of nice little perch is a pretty big thing, really. In the beginning, there was a bucket of wet sand on each teeing ground, and the golfer would build a little mound on which to place the ball for the initial shot of each hole. From there, it was "play it like you find it."
Then along came the wooden "tee" and that made it much easier. Over the years, as drivers got bigger, tees also got longer. Then came the "revolution" of the high-tech tees with all kinds of designs and claims. Call me old school, but I can’t buy off on the concept that the tee itself can add yards to a drive, but maybe it can. I just prefer the wooden tee, and have my preferences for color and/or length.
Anyway, I'm on this topic today because of a question by Bill Y., who sent an email asking about tee height:
"I have a question on tee height. How high should a ball be teed when using a driver, fairway wood and iron (short and long)?His words were ‘every time you have an opportunity you should use a tee’. But he gave no indication on how high the ball should be teed-up.”
Well, Bill, let me start by saying that I find Mr. Palmer’s advice to be dead on (like I’m going to argue with The King?). We have the opportunity at the start of each hole to give ourselves an absolutely perfect lie for the opening shot, so why wouldn’t we take that “gift”? That said, however, a “perfect” lie for one shot might not be so for another. A good lie to hit a knockdown spinning short iron into the wind, for example, is not the same you’d choose to hit a high, soft fairway wood, is it?
Since most holes are opened with a shot with your driver, let’s start there. Modern drivers have deep faces, and those faces have a roll, or curvature, from top to bottom. Under close examination, you’ll find the bottom third of the face has a lower loft by 1-1.5 degrees, and the top third has a higher loft by the same amount. (I might add that very few drivers on the market are as strong as the number indicates – marketing at work!). So, if you want to hit a lower drive into the wind, consider teeing the ball lower to help you make contact in that lower loft area of the face. Conversely, if you want to launch a high one downwind, teeing it higher can help you achieve that. In general, however, I think the ball should be tee’d up so that about 1/3 to ½ of the ball diameter is above the face at address, with the driver rested on the turf.
With clubs other than a driver, my advice is to use a tee (or a broken stub) to give you the best lie for the shot you are planning to hit. With fairway woods, perching the ball ¼-½” or so off the turf can inspire confidence. Same with hybrids or middle irons. For short iron and wedge shots, I think you want to have the bottom of the ball just off the top of the grass, simulating a perfect fairway lie.
So those are my basics. What do you readers have to add? And Bill, congratulations on winning a new EIDOLON V-SOLE Wedge.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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