May 16, 2023

The best golf tees for improved performance from the first hole

If you ever want to experience how willing golfers are to mess with equipment in the hope that some twist or turn here or there might shave a stroke or two off a scorecard, we offer up the world of golf tees. Such a simple accessory seems so basic that it can't be improved or even subjected to variations in design, but never underestimate a golfer's desire to tinker.

Golf tees are a pretty simple device. To hit your driver (or hybrid, occasionally), you want to be swinging up on the ball at contact. Therefore, you elevate the ball an inch or two above the turf by pushing a tiny, skinny wooden or plastic platform into the ground to lift the orb into position.

Enter the golfer looking for a boost. Does the tee have to be wood? Can the right tee help you choose the height of your ball? Can a more advanced tee help your swing or ball control? Only you can decide that for your game, and this collection will serve up some options.

Staff favorite: Pride Performance Professional Tee SystemBest budget: WHAMZ33 W Professional Wooden Golf TeesBest classic: Western Birch Golf TeesBest for slicers: RecTeeFier Slice/Hook Correction Golf TeeBest short tees: Zero Friction Tour 3-Prong Golf TeesBest for durability: Callaway Par-Tee Plastic Golf TeesBest for beginners: Martini Golf TeesBest for big hitters: Brush-T Premium Plastic Golf TeesBest for shorter hitters: 4 Yards More Golf TeesBest for practice: Fiberbuilt Golf Adjustable Golf Tee

If you play the game, you use a tee — unless you stick to your irons on lonely par-3 courses. Playing often, we had a chance to whack away at many of the tees on this list. For those few we haven't tried (such as the RecTeeFier Slice Correction Golf Tee), we scoured multiple golf sites and customer reviews to seek out the most popular brands for each category.

All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy a linked product, GOLF.COM may earn a fee. Pricing may vary.

Benefits— PGA Tour-approved— Long-lasting— Low friction

Drawbacks— Stiffer plastic breaks like wood on occasion

There are plenty of golf news sites out there that list what a given PGA Tour pro has in their bag each golf season. However, while those listings always include clubs and golf balls, tees are often left out of the news scoop. That said, if you ask most experts and pros what tees are often found on tour, it's the Pride Performance Professional Tee System.

These plastic tees come in a variety of lengths, and all bear marker stripes to guide how deep you insert them into the ground for your swing. While more durable than wooden tees, the stiff plastic can snap more often than softer tee designs.

Material: Plastic | Length: Varies | Count: 30

Benefits— Affordable— Quality construction for the price— Treated for less friction

Drawbacks— Breakable— No depth guide markers

You’ll find tees like these all over the golf world from local municipal courses to driving ranges. They’re sold in bunches or handfuls, and they do the job perfectly well if all you need is something to get that golf ball elevated.

What you’re getting here is a piece of unmarked, treated, solid bamboo. No lines or patterns help you set the tee's depth, though. You’ll just have to eyeball it.

Material: Bamboo | Length: 2.75 in. | Count: 100

Benefits— Bamboo or wooden construction— Strong aesthetics— Range of sizes

Drawbacks— Breakable like other wooden tees

Of course, the product name says it all. With birch right there in the name, these classy, old-fashioned tees are made of, er, bamboo. Actually, the Western Birch tees come in both bamboo and hardwood, so the nomenclature still applies. Featuring eye-catching paint schemes and finishes, these are some of the best-looking tees on the market.

The Western Birch Golf Tees come in a variety of color schemes and lengths to fit your needs. Wood and bamboo both break on violent contact, of course, so you’ll go through a bunch of them.

Material: Bamboo or wood | Length: Varies | Count: 50

Benefits— Promises to aid a slice— Built tough enough for multiple uses

Drawbacks— Promises only a 35% improvement

For the few uninitiated readers, a slice is a right-handed golfer's tendency to swing outside to inside — cutting across the face of the ball and sending it to the right. It's the most common swing problem in golf for amateurs. (Simply reverse all that for left-handed players, but the problem remains.)

The RecTeeFier Slice/Hook Correction Golf Tee claims it’ll alter impact and spin, reducing slice tendency by 35%. If you have a serious slice problem, these are worth a try, but there's no substitute for practice.

Material: Impact-resistant polymer | Length: 3.25 in. | Count: 2

Benefits— Multiple shorter-size options— Low friction— Reusable plastic

Drawbacks— Slightly more expensive for 40-pack— 3-prong holder vulnerable to wind

While you’re generally not allowed to use a tee anywhere else on the golf course except the tee box, the driver isn't the only club in the bag to benefit from a little boost.

Par-3 holes or doglegs might invite the driver to stay in the bag in favor of a first shot with a long iron or hybrid with significantly less elevation. Rather than bury a full-length tee up to its neck just to get the ball a bit off the grass, companies make short tees under 2 inches.

The Zero Friction Tour 3-Prong Golf Tees are a prime option here. Available in multiple sizes and utilizing a simple three-pronged design to hold the ball, the Zero Friction line offers plenty of choices for "stubby" tees.

Material: Plastic | Length: Varies | Count: 20-40

Benefits— Very durable— Reliable manufacturer— Rubberized cub for low-spin launch

Drawbacks— Not a great low-friction design

These were in the running for Best Overall in this collection since they combine tough materials, a solid design, and some clever science to top off the complete package.

Not only are these wedge-styled Callaway tees built thick and strong for multiple uses, but the rubber cup atop the tee is supposed to reduce spin off the tee (hopefully reducing slice or hook potential).

The Callaway design gets away from the brush, low-friction principle of extra distance tees. Still, good luck breaking one of these chunky Callaway offerings.

Material: Plastic, rubber | Length: 3.25 in. | Count: 10

Benefits— Oversize design for beginners— Strong and durable plastic— Preset depth marker

Drawbacks— Not designed to reduce spin— Wider cup tip doesn't encourage launch

These bright, big, and friendly plastic tees from Martini have larger top cups to hold the ball, making it easier for less experienced players to tee it up for a drive. Clear depth guides also aid the beginner in adjusting the tee to the proper height for a given swing.

Since Martini Golf Tees use a simpler, chunky design, there's none of the low spin, brush launch technology used in more refined tees — but beginners don't need all that.

Material: Plastic | Length: 3.25 in. | Count: 5

Benefits— Brush design for less resistance— Built-in height alignment— Reusable

Drawbacks— Thinner, weight-saving plastic seems brittle

For those players who hit it long off the tee but feel a little greedy and would like to snag an even bigger launch out of the box, the Brush-T Premium Plastic Golf Tees are waiting for you.

The idea is simple: Set the ball up right at the same height every time with the pellet resting on a lightweight plastic brush. Reduced friction on impact helps to launch the ball. To keep the whole design lightweight, however, some of the materials seem brittle for a tee intended for multiple uses.

Material: Plastic | Length: 2.4 in. | Count: 3

Benefits— Promises those 4 more yards— Fully reusable— Low friction

Drawbacks— You need some distance of your own— Not a substitute for practice

The name says it all. These tees promise to give you 4 yards more (give or take) on your drives. The design employs a soft brush at the tee's tip to cradle the ball to reduce friction instead of the solid cup materials on standard wood and plastic tees.

There's only so much any tee can do for your game, though. If you want a little more distance, you need some of your own distance to begin with.

Material: Plastic | Length: 1.75 in. | Count: 12 (3 packs of 4)

Benefits— Useful for practice on or off the range— Adjustable for different tee sizes— Works with or without a golf mat

Drawbacks— Not for on-course play— Works best with Fiberbuilt mats

The tees you’ll find at most driving ranges and practice facilities are flexible versions that take thousands of smacks before fraying and breaking — essentially consisting of a rubber tube protruding through an Astroturf-style golf mat.

The Fiberbuilt Golf Adjustable Golf Tee simulates that driving range tee in an adjustable design that you can hit repeatedly. This Fiberbuilt design works best with any golf mat but fits best with its own brand.

Material: Polymer | Length: Adjustable | Count: 2

While professionals spend a great deal of time considering every piece of equipment in their bag (including golf tees), a majority of amateur players will hit the ball much the same off most of their own tees. In fact, it's a good bet you’ll find a mishmash of pegs collected from all over a player's golf history in their bag.

Still, the right tee can offer slight improvement to your game if you have a specific need in mind. Only you know what that need might be, but if it's a need for more distance or correcting a slice off the tee, there's an implementation here that can add some assistance. However, you need to be realistic and understand there's only so much a mere golf tee can add or fix in your game. If you have genuine swing problems of any sort, you’ll need to work on them before you can turn to a tee for help.

There are a few simple factors to consider when choosing your golf tee, including the following:

While few golf tees will dig all that deeply into your wallet, you can save money if all you want is the most basic piece of wood or plastic to get your ball off the ground. There are some basic, more flimsy models out there that’ll cost you less than a dollar. We chose the WHAMZ33 W Professional Wooden Golf Tees as our budget option. They’re not among those dollar-store versions at about $7 a bag, but we think they’re a good blend of quality and price.

If reusability is key for you, go with plastic or rubber. If that's not an issue and you’d rather have the natural, occasional clean break of a wooden or bamboo tee during a swing, the cost between the two is often negligible.

If you evaluate your game and find the need for some form of improvement or refinement, there are tees that work to aid a slice or add distance out of the box. Those gadgets won't repair major shortcomings in your golf game, but specialty tees such as the RecTeeFier Slice/Hook Correction Golf Tee or the 4 Yards More Golf Tees stand in nicely there.

In most cases, most professional golfers on the PGA Tour use the Pride Performance Professional Tee System. The brand reps will tell you that, and it's generally supported through multiple sources around the internet. Their tees are customizable and reliable — and that's what pros demand.

For most golfers, it makes no real difference beyond the simple fact that plastic is less likely to break — meaning you’ll probably burn through fewer tees if you’re using a plastic brand. Some advanced players will choose a wooden tee because it's more likely to give or break on contact, resisting the club less through the ball.

Everything in Tiger's golf bag is bespoke, branded, and sponsored. He plays custom TaylorMade irons and a Bridgestone Tour BX golf ball (manufactured to his specifications). The specific brand of his tee is unclear, but he does use two different tee lengths. He’ll hit the standard 2.1-inch tee for most of his drives, but he’ll turn to a longer 3.3-inch peg if he wants more loft on his tee shots.

John Scott Lewinski hustles around the world, writing for a network of publications and recording a total monthly readership of more than 100 million people. As an author, he is represented by the Fineprint Literary Agency, New York.

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