What Is the Meaning of Golf Tee Colors?

General view

Golf tee colors are used to indicate the driving distance the tee is from each hole. While there are tee colors common among most tee boxes in every course, each golf club is different and may use additional tee box colors. The tee marker colors are part of the handicapping culture in the game of golf that levels the playing field among golfers.

Common colors

The most common tee colors used on golf courses are red, white and blue. Red tees, also referred to as ladies tees or women’s tees, are closest to the hole. They are primarily used by female golfers, beginners, or high-handicap players who cannot drive the golf ball more than 150 yards.

White tees are used by most average golfers and are meant for those who can drive the ball 200 to 250 yards. Blue tees are usually the farthest from the hole and are reserved for experienced golfers, low handicap golfers, or those who have exceptional driving range.

Nick Faldo of Britain tees off on the new tee box

Other Colors

In addition to red, white and blue, golf courses may also employ different tee box colors like green, gold, black and silver.

  • Green tees‌: Green tees are rare and are used on courses to teach novice golfers
  • Black tees‌: Black tees are mainly utilized as club championship tees or sometimes as PGA Tour tees, or during a professional golfer’s round of golf
  • Gold tees‌: Gold tees can have two purposes: (1) If placed near the tee they are meant for senior players (2) If it is the farthest tee then it is only used for championship play
  • Silver tees‌: Silver tees are for use by senior female players.

Course Colors

A New York Times article in 2009 revealed a growing trend in golf course design to abandon the traditional colors of red, white and blue. This trend is designed to counteract golfers' frequent habit of overestimating their driving ability when they play golf and causing a delay in the pace of play due to poorer performances.

It is not uncommon for a newer golf course to use oak, granite or orange sets of tees to designate yardage distance. This requires players to consult the pro shop and puts them in a better position to play tees that suit them best.

Regions Tradition - Round Two

Handicapping Culture

One of the unique aspects of golf as a sport is its handicapping system which gives players stroke advantages based on their average scores compared to a par score for a course. The purpose of handicapping is to allow players of different skill levels to play against one another and against themselves.

Instead of a player simply beating another he is also trying to lower his handicap. Using different tee areas to tee off from is an extension of this philosophy and has made golf more accessible and, ultimately, more enjoyable for golfers and playing partners of all skill levels.