Do pros tee up irons

Do pros tee up irons DEFAULT

How to Tee Off with an Iron

Learning How to Tee Off with an Iron isn’t Easy.

Since you’re here, you may already know that.

Learning how to tee off with an iron is a skill worth mastering. Developing a proficiency with your irons will improve your golf score significantly. It will also give you better club options are you approach a par 3 or a tricky par 4.

Without seeing your swing or tendencies, it’s tough for me to give specific advice. However, the basics that I highlight below are really important habits that will serve most golfers well as they look to tee off with an iron.

So without further adieu…

Tip #1 – Tee the golf ball about 1/4″ off of the ground.

Since you have the luxury of using a tee, you want to make sure you set that tee up correctly. In most circumstances, if you’re looking to tee off with an iron, you’re going to want to tee the ball about 1/4″ off the ground. This means the golf ball will be teed ever-so-slightly off the ground.

Remember, the face of an iron is designed to give your ball loft, so there is no reason to tee the ball any higher than 1/4″.

Some golfers wonder: “When I’m hitting with an iron, why should I tee the ball in the first place?” That’s a great question. The goal here is to give yourself the perfect lie. If you set the tee a 1/4″ off the ground, you’re creating the lie you would hope for on a fairway.

Tip #2 – Pay Attention to Your Stance & Movement

If you’re struggling to hit an iron off the tee, it’s time to pay attention to the finer details. Dave Myers, a golf instructor in Florida, gives the following suggestions:

…assume a wide enough stance (about shoulder-width) so that if someone tried to push you over, they couldn’t…As you swing back, make sure that the brim on your cap does not move or turn off the ball. If you don’t wear a cap, then try to keep your head relatively still. This will not only ensure a short, compact backswing, but it will keep you more centered over the ball so that you can hit it more solidly.

Consistent contact is the key to a successful iron tee shot, so pay close attention to your stance and your movement during each swing.

Tip #3 – Swing down on the ball.

Many golfers, both experienced and inexperienced, will sometimes try to help lift the ball with their golf swing. Don’t sweep up at the ball. As referenced above, an iron is designed to lift the ball on its own — you don’t need to help it.

If your divot is behind the ball, that’s a bad sign. A good swing means you’ll strike the ball first, then you’ll leave a divot.

Tip #4 – PRACTICE!

It goes without saying — if you want to improve your ability to tee off with an iron, you’re going to need to practice that skill.

How often do you see golfers practicing iron tee shots at the range?

The answer: Not nearly enough. That’s why so many golfers struggle with this particular skill.

David Nesbitt is the Director of Instruction at Boulder Ridge Golf Club in San Jose, California. He gives some excellent tips to help you practice good habits and tee off effectively with an iron.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you tee off with an iron?

The simple answer? As often as possible. It’s much easier to hit a quality shot off of a tee, since you’re taking grass out of the equation. A clean hit will give you more distance and control over your shot.

Can you use a tee on the fairway?

The official rule is no, you can’t use a tee on the fairway. Tee boxes are reserved for tee shots. Even though some golfers may bend the rule in casual rounds, tees are not supposed to be used on the fairway.

Do pros tee up irons?

On a tee shot, yes. There is a reason why tees are only permitted on the tee box. Pros know that anything they can do to ensure direct club to ball contact, without blades of grass interfering, gives them a major advantage.

How can you hit your irons better?

Make sure you’re setting your tee to the proper height (1/4″ off the ground or just slightly above the grass). Pay close attention to your stance and swing down on the ball.

Why do you hook irons off the tee?

There are a few reasons why you hit hook shots. It could be that your grip is too strong, your alignment is off or your swing needs some adjustments. This Golf Digest article may be helpful.

How do you hit long irons off the tee?

It takes some practice to get good with long irons, but there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure a better hit.

  1. Widen your stance. The longer the club, the wider your stance should be to allow a full shoulder turn.
  2. Place the ball toward the front center of your stance.
  3. Don’t go crazy on the backswing. Focus on making solid contact and let the iron do the work.

Should you use a tee when hitting an iron off the teebox?

Definitely. Since you only get to use a tee on the tee box, take advantage of the opportunity to hit the ball without any grass getting in the way. There may be some rare exceptions to this, but generally speaking, a tee set at the proper height will help you get more distance.

Should you tee up your iron on a par 3?

Definitely. Tees set to the proper iron height (1/4″ or just slightly off the ground) will take grass out of the equation and allow you to hit a better shot.

How often do you see golfers practicing iron tee shots at the range?

Not nearly enough. Everyone loves crushing the ball, but getting good with your irons can make a huge difference.

On your next range visit, try a 20/30/50 approach. Take your bucket of balls and dedicate 20% of those balls to wedge shots. This is also a good way to warm up.

Then dedicate 30% of those balls toward hitting your irons, particularly the ones you will use the most in a typical round.

Finally, end the festivities with a bit of stress relief. Pull out that ball-crushing driver and launch the remaining half of your balls into outer space.

Do you have other tips that you’d like to share?

Please post them in the comments below. And if you’re in the market for some game improvement irons, see our Most Forgiving Irons post.


Should You Tee Up Your Iron on a Par 3?

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tee iron on par 3

Years ago I decided to stop teeing up my ball on par 3s with my irons because I felt that it gave me a better chance at hitting an accurate shot. Whether or not it was actually true, I believed that when I teed the ball up it made the dispersion of my shots a bit wider.

Recently I put this theory to the test because I thought it was an interesting topic to explore.

The conventional wisdom is to tee your ball up on a par 3 with your irons. The point of this article is not to dispute that advice because I think it’s sound logic for most of you reading this, but rather to explore an alternative strategy that some players may benefit from.

I conducted this mini poll on Twitter, and it was not a surprise that the overwhelming majority of responses were people who did tee up the ball.

Do you tee up your ball on a par 3?

— Jon Sherman (@practicalgolf) March 1, 2017

My Theory

When I think about improving as a golfer I see an image of two lines, which represent shot dispersion. I believe every golfer should be moving from the image on the left to the image on the right.

tee up ball par 3

Anything you can do to keep that ball closer to your intended target is going to help you lower your scores (and yes hitting the ball farther is part of that).

For years I noticed that when I teed the ball up with my irons my dispersion seemed to increase, but mainly on my poor shots. If I pushed it, pulled it, sliced it, or hooked it…well it seemed to do more of that, and go further to the left or right than normal.

If it was a well-struck shot, then it was heading towards my target no matter what.

Since I am someone who thinks pretty deeply about strategy on the course, I decided to stop teeing the ball up in order to keep my less-than perfect shots closer to the target. Golf is a game of proximity; the closer you are to the hole the better your chances are of scoring better on each hole.

The Test

I wanted to find out if there was any truth to this theory as it pertained to my own game (and potentially yours).

So I went out to St. Georges Country Club with my friend and PGA Professional Nick Banks on an abnormally warm and windy winter day. We were treated to 70 degree weather in the middle of February, and it was perfect conditions to try out my “teeing it up or not” theory.

tee ball up par 3

Here were the parameters of the test:

  • I hit 10 shots with my 7-iron on the ground, and then 10 shots with the ball teed up to a height that I felt was appropriate
  • All shots were hit into about a 20-25 mph headwind, which as you may know requires a solid strike to achieve success (and a good test of accuracy)
  • I used the same exact ball every time (Titleist Pro V1)
  • We used a Flightscope Radar to measure my results, and I was most concerned with my carry distance and how far offline each shot was from the target

The Results

After conducting the test we took the average of 10 shots and compared them, and I found the results to be pretty interesting.

The wind was ripping pretty hard that day, and it was easily about a 1½ – 2 club differential, which meant that any shots I didn’t hit well were going to travel farther off line than in calm conditions.

should you tee up irons par 3

My shots with the 7-iron off the ground traveled on average 156.8 yards in the air, and about 3.6 yards off the target line to the left with an average spin rate of 6548 rpms. Overall, not bad for the conditions since I typically fly a 7-iron about 170 yards on the golf course.

The teed-up shots went on average 158 yards in the air, 9.7 yards offline to the left, and had an average spin of 6979 rpms.

What was interesting was that I didn’t gain much distance at all, the ball spun a bit more, but most importantly it went 6 yards more to the left than the shots that I hit off the ground.

Here are some graphical representations of my shot dispersion as well – you can see the 7-iron off the ground was more evenly dispersed around the target line than the ones off the tee

7-iron off the ground:

tee it up on a par 3

7-iron off the tee:

should you tee it up on a par 3?

A Little Analysis

I was not surprised by the results because it had been a pattern I had noticed on the course.

What did surprise me the most was that I really didn’t gain much distance from the ball being teed up. I only gained 1.2 yards on average, but lost just over 6 yards of accuracy. On a par three that could easily be the difference of hitting the green or not.

For me personally it confirmed my suspicion that choosing to hit the ball off the ground on a par three might be a better decision if I am mostly concerned about accuracy.

Should You Tee Your Irons Up on a Par 3?

I am absolutely not recommending that you stop using tees on a par 3. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way let me tell you why.

For most golfers I believe that teeing the ball up gives you the best chance of making proper contact with the ball, which is ultimately the most important thing for consistency. Why give up that advantage on a par 3?

What I would tell you is to make sure you find the right tee height for your swing. Some golfers either tee it up way too high or too low. You can figure the right tee height on your own by using a dry-erase marker and experimenting with different tee heights to see where you are making contact on the face of the club.

Had I performed this test with a much wider range of golfers with varying ball striking abilities, I would suspect that lesser-skilled golfers would struggle to produce the distance and accuracy to hit more greens without using a tee.

However, for a more skilled ball striker, I do think these results are interesting. It might warrant some testing on your own to find out if it makes sense to possibly not use a tee in order to gain accuracy. I’m just one player, and this test was hardly scientific, but I’m sure some of you reading this have thought about this before.

I would file the results somewhere under, “interesting, but not definitive.”

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Tee The Ball Higher On A Par 3

Sweep It: I tee the ball up a bit with an iron for a more level swing, as shown in this 1977 photograph.

JACK NICKLAUS: I've hit some memorable shots on par-3 holes during my career. Two that are special to me are the 1-iron on 17 in the 1972 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach that hit the pin, dropping to within tap-in distance, and the 5-iron on 16 at the '86 Masters that spun down the slope, just missing the cup, finishing three feet away.

Both of those shots contributed to major-championship victories, and each time I was proud of my execution. Before the shot, I spot-lined at my target (using intermediate targets to set my aim) and stuck to my routine. That includes finding a level place on the teeing ground so my stance is comfortable--I don't want to stand on the edge of a divot or even a gradual sideslope. And I tee the ball a little higher than most players do.

I always felt that air had less resistance than dirt. What puzzles me is when players take a tee, jam it all the way in the ground and then put the ball on top of it. Why is the tee there? You have the opportunity on a par 3 to tee it up, so why not take advantage of that and give yourself the best lie possible. In the fairway, when the ball sits on the ground, you might hit it thin or fat. But if you tee the ball a little higher on a par 3, you can make more of a sweeping swing, and you've just eliminated the two things you don't want to happen.

JIM FLICK: Jack's comments show once again how the mind of a great player works. He leaves no detail to chance. You should adopt the same mind-set on par 3s, where you can choose how and where to tee the ball.

For example, depending on your intended ball flight, one side of the teeing ground is better than the other. Players who draw the ball should tee up on the left of the teeing area and aim at the right side of the green, especially if the hole is cut on the left. That gives you the entire green to work with. Billy Casper, who played a hook later in his career, almost always did this. Lee Trevino did just the opposite because of his left-to-right ball flight. He teed his ball near the right tee marker and aimed at the left side of the green.

Study the wind as well. With an iron approach, you usually want to curve the ball into the wind so it serves as a buffer, helping the ball drop softly onto the putting surface. If the wind is blowing right to left, a fade is usually your better option, and vice versa.

Finally, if you're hitting a hybrid, experiment with your tee height. Hybrids are designed with sole weighting and shallow faces to make it easier to get the ball in the air. Therefore, you might not want to tee the ball as high as you would for an iron.

NICKLAUSwrites articles only for Golf Digest.

FLICK, a longtime Golf Digest Teaching Professional and PGA Golf Professional Hall of Famer, worked with hundreds of amateurs and tour players including Jack Nicklaus.

Golf Iron Shots Off The Tee vs Off The Turf

5 steps to hitting perfect irons off the tee

1. Low tee

Tees that you use with a driver or 3-wood are usually relatively long in order to get the ball teed up higher, but when hitting with an iron from the tee box, you should use a shorter tee. It’s not a requirement but using a short tee will make it easier to tee the ball at the correct height, typically lifting the ball just slightly off the ground.

2. Level setup

You want to find an even lie for your setup on the tee box. Sometimes tee boxes aren’t perfectly level, so you want to be sure you find a spot where the ball and your feet are as close to even heights as possible.

3. Set clubface

With the ball teed up just above the blades of grass, you are in position to connect the clubface with the ball directly on the sweet spot. This spot is usually lower on the face and directly in the center, so make sure at address you set the ball up in this position.

4. Starter swing

Once you have all the setup variables accounted for, get ready to make your normal, starter swing. If you’re not familiar, check out the previous videos that explain all you need to know about the basics of a swing.

5. Smooth tempo

Make sure you have the correct club, trust the number and make a good swing with smooth tempo. Remember not to try to do too much with the swing and focus on smooth tempo for a balanced finish. If you can put it all together, you’ll be in perfect position to stick it close on the par-3s. Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.

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Should You Use a Tee on Par 3's? // STRIKE YOUR IRONS BETTER

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