Q. How Big Should Our Tees Be?

By: Jeffrey D. Brauer


Mom used to say there is a "science to everything," and that applies to tee sizing.

Early golfers simply teed up on the previous green. Then, early tee boxes were small and utilitarian, but modern tees evolved, increasing in size to spread wear and provide different playing lengths. Tees are also more stylish, often with natural curvilinear shapes artistically integrated with the surrounding landscape.

The industry-standard size recommendation is 150 to 200 square feet per 1,000 rounds, i.e., 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot tees for a 20,000-round private clubs, and 6,000- to 8,000-square-foot tees on 40,000-round public courses.

General adjustment factors within that range might include construction method (tees with prepared mix might be smaller than those built on topsoil), turf type and/or general conditions - like shade, which would suggest enlargement above the norm.

Individual tees should also vary. Par-3s, holes 1 and 10, layup holes typically played with an iron, and wherever water, deep woods or OB are in play on the tee shot should be at least 25 to 30 percent bigger.

Multiple tees require more space than "runway tees" since each tee has about six feet of unusable space at each end, by rule. Rectangular tees are 100-percent space efficient and may be slightly smaller than rounded ones.

Matching tees to the typical 15-foot-wide tee-marker spacing increases utilization. Tee widths of 18, 33 and 48 feet (allowing space for the markers and some inevitable shrinkage) allow for left-right or left-middle-right tee settings. You might want to add a little size for inevitable "shrinkage."

Generally, tee length is more beneficial than extra width, allowing either length variations or length consistency (i.e., front tee to a back pin, back tee to a front pin, etc.). Tee placements are a yard deep, and depending on the season and maintenance practice, the busiest tees probably require 30 days of recovery time, while other tees may survive with 20 or less.

Carefully matching the sizes of your multiple tees also reduces your total tee size, resulting in the following parameters:

Black Tees (7,000-plus yards) get about 1 percent of play, so 18' x 18', or as small as you can mow, is sufficient. On round tees, minimum mower turning diameter (usually 24-27 feet wide, depending on turf resiliency) controls tee size.

Blue tees, (+/- 6,800 yards) get about 16 percent of play, so 33' x 42', with occasional use of the front for white tee markers, works.

White tees (+/- 6300) get from 60 percent of play, and should be 18' x 102', 33' x 57', or 48' x 42'.

Silver Tees, (less than 6,000) get about 19 percent of play, slightly larger than blue tees, so 33' x 57'.

Red Tees get about 4 percent of play, 20' x 20'. We hesitate to undersize red tees, since many women are sensitive about their historically undersized tees, and the number of female players is growing.

Naturally, every course has unique holes and needs depending on their clientele.

Jeffrey D. Brauer began his career as an apprentice in the Chicago area in 1977. His first project was Kemper Lakes, which shortly after hosted the 1989 PGA Championship. He formed GolfScapes in Arlington, Texas, in 1984. In the last 29 years he has designed and consulted on a wide spectrum of projects, ranging from partial renovations to international resorts. His recent work includes teaming with the design team of Pascuzzo and Pate on a remodel of the world-famous La Costa Resort & Spa in California, and renovations at Superior National Golf Course in Lutsen, Minn., and Mesquite Municipal Golf Course in Mesquite, Texas.

He has been a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects since 1981, serving as President during its 50th Anniversary year in 1995-96. Jeff still studies the classic works - both old and new, and has played more than 75 of the best courses in the world.

Jeff gives many presentations and is a regular architecture columnist for many publications and websites, including Golf Course Industry and Cybergolf.com. He has also been a strong advocate for the "Tee it Forward" campaign and strives to make his courses fit the description of "fun to play every day."

Jeff's work has been spotlighted in most of the world's major golf magazines. Golf World ranked him as one of the top-20 golf course architects and Golf Inc. ranked him as the world's fourth-best value in golf architecture in 2010. Jeff's portfolio and reputation keep him at the forefront of desired designers for new courses, reconstruction and renovation projects.

For more about Jeff, visit http://www.jeffreydbrauer.com/sites/courses/layout.asp?id=859&page=48451.

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