What Is the Meaning of Golf Tee Colors?

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Golf tee colors are used to indicate the distance the tee is from the hole. While there are tee colors common among most courses each course is different and may use additional colors. The tee colors are part of the handicapping culture in 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, are closest to the hole. They are primarily used by female golfers or players who cannot drive the 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 or those who have exceptional driving range.

Other Colors

In addition to red, white and blue golf courses may also employ green, gold, black and silver. Green tees are rare and are used on courses to teach novice golfers. Black tees are used almost exclusively for special events such as club championships or professional tournaments. Gold tees can have two purposes. If placed near the tee they are meant for senior players. If a gold tee is the farthest tee then it is only used for championship play. 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 and lengthening the amount of play time due to poorer performances. It is not uncommon for a newer golf course to use oak, granite or orange to designate distance. This requires players to consult the pro shop and puts them in a better position to play their best.

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. The use of different tee areas is an extension of this philosophy and has made golf more accessible and, ultimately, more enjoyable.

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