Playing Golf From The Senior Tees: Must-Have Advice [2024]

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Whether you are new to the game of golf or you’re struggling with reaching the putting surface in regulation; the length of the course will impact your score. It will also affect everyone on the course that day as well. If you play tees that are too long for your game, then the pace of play will most likely slow down. As a result, angry golfers and marshals will start to pay you routine visits.

Many golfers play longer tees because of ego. They’re worried about what their friends think and are worried about catching slack. This is where the question, “What is the Age for Senior Tees in Golf? is often asked to us.

What is the Age for Senior Tees in Golf?

Technically speaking, unless you are playing in a USGA event, then the set of tees you play makes no difference.

Age and handicap are not the only reasons why forward tees exist. Strength and driver distance also play a crucial role in moving up a set of tees. Other outside factors like altitude, humidity, and wind can greatly affect your carry distance off the tee. 

Having an adaptive mindset when selecting your tee length yardage for the day is key to scoring better. For instance, if the weather report is calling for 20 mph sustained winds, don’t let ego limit you from scoring better and enjoying your time on the course. Simply move up a set of tees and let the smooth swings fly.

In most cases, golf courses have tee systems that can either lengthen or shorten the total distance you elect to play. Notice I used the word “elect.”

Yes, it’s your choice on what tees you play, not your playing partner.

For example, I played a money game at Merion Golf Club a few years back with two friends who routinely hit the ball 20+ yards further than me. Rather than giving me strokes to level things out, I played one set of tees forward. Electing to do so resulted in a very even matchup with the long-ball hitters.

Senior Golf Tees & Age Requirements

showing a senior golfer at the senior tees with his golf iron on a beautiful Florida golf course.

There are a few ways to categorize golfers as seniors. It may vary from place to place or country to country. When moving from the practice range to the actual course in the past, golfers’ starting selections used to depend on their ages.

But today golfers aren’t limited by any requirements when it comes to their starting position. However, this guideline for utilizing senior tees is somewhat flexible because age is not the only factor. When choosing senior golf tees, it is important to keep in mind your current driving distance and handicap.

The main purpose of the senior tees is to encourage golfers to move forward to the tee that better suits their current ability. As a result, this also helps speed up the pace of play (which helps everyone). Age 70 tends to be the average golden age for a senior golfer, but you can be as young as 45, depending on the tour.

Senior Tees in Tournament vs Regular Play: USGA Rules  

According to the USGA, “The World Handicap System™ enables players to play from different tees and still have a fair game or competition, which is why the USGA does not recommend any particular set of tees based on factors such as age, gender, or driving distance. For recreational rounds, it is up to the player to decide which tees to play. For competition purposes, it is up to the Committee in charge of the competition.”

Beginner Golfers Approach to Golf Etiquette

senior golfer doing putting practice

If you are a senior who picked up the sport later in life, you’ll need to be caught up to speed on golf etiquette and rules of the tee box. Fortunately, programs like Operation 36 Golf have been designed to educate all ages on how to properly advance their skills and on course etiquette.

Taking up golf later in life can be a hit-or-miss type of situation. Either the player gets frustrated because they struggle with hitting the ball consistently or they’ve been scorned by other players on the course due to the slow pace of play. Unfortunately, these situations drive people away from the sport.

Operation 36 Golf has been successful in teaching all players, young and old, how to carry themselves on the course. If you’re looking to get your grandchildren involved in golf, this is a great option for you to spend some time sharing and developing your skills.

⛳️ Related: How to Get Involved with Senior Amateur Golf Tournaments

Who Can Use Senior Golf Tees?

In the past, the age of a golfer determined the tee box option. But now, the selection of tee boxes depends on the golfing skills of the player.

The game of golf should be fun. Players on average should reach the fairways from their tee shots. So here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when deciding whether to use the senior golf tees:

  • From your drive, par 3s should be in putting reach.
  • From your drive, par 4s should be in reach of the green by your 2nd shot.
  • From your drive, par 5s must be in reach by your 3rd shot.

The Equation for Determining Tee Selection

This isn’t a perfect solution, but it will direct you towards the proper tee box. Take the distance you hit your driver and multiply it by 28. For example, if your average drive is 180 yards the equation would be, 180 x 28 = 5,040 yards.

Following this suggested formula could help you execute getting to the green in regulation. As a result, your approach shots will be shorter so you get more looks a birdies and pars.

Different Tee Boxes in Golf

While we are on the topic of tee boxes, it’s good to know the general tee box colors used throughout the United States at golf clubs. However, these days tee box colors have become more of a thing of the past at most country clubs.

Tee Box Colors 

  • Green tees (closest to pin, not used on all golf courses): Junior or Youth golfers
  • Red tees (next closest to the pin): Women golfers
  • Gold / yellow tees (second after red tees in position): Senior golfers
  • White tees (tends to be in the middle): Men with mid to high handicaps
  • Blue tees (follows the white tees, second from the back): Low-handicap men golfers
  • Black tees (furthest from the pin): Professionals

Some golf courses use a more simplified approach with three tee boxes. As we stated earlier, this will vary from person to person or course to course.

Here is the general recommendation for three tee boxes in golf:

  • Front tees (closest to the pin): Mid to high-handicap women, seniors, or beginners
  • Middle tees: Mid to high-handicap men, low-handicap women, or low-handicap seniors
  • Back tees (furthest from the pin): Low-handicap men

Furthermore, to alleviate creating a golf tee box complex some clubs have implemented a number system rather than using colors. This number system is typically expressed in Roman numerals. I’ve personally seen this system of labeling use the Roman numerals in ascending or descending sequence.

General Tee Box Do’s & Don’ts

senior golfer on a tee box in Florida

To those of you who are new to the game of golf, you will want to know the basic requirements for tee box etiquette. These are just a few of the items to keep in mind.

We also recently covered important tips on speeding up your pace of play in golf.

Do’s

  • Allow the previous hole winner winners to have the option to go first.
  • The player that is hitting the ball should have autonomy on the tee with no interruptions.
  • Stand on the ball side of the player as he/she tees off.
  • Keep quiet and be respectful to the other players.
  • Avoid standing too close and causing a shadow.
  • Avoid anything that would cause distraction.

Don’ts

  • Comments in general about a player’s stance, swing, etc. whether positive or negative.
  • Stand behind a player, stand too close, or cast shadows.
  • Move around or make noise (i.e. clean your golf ball, mess around with pocket change, cough, clear your throat, etc.).
  • Whisper, talk, or use your cell phone – anything that would create noise or distraction.

Rule of 85 Golf

Not everyone has heard of the rule of 85 in golf. Let us familiarize you as it relates to our topic at hand.

The rule of 85 basically simplifies what tee you should play from with basic math. The 85 golf rule is as follows:

*If you score 85 or higher, then you should be using the senior tees for men.

PGA TOUR Champions | Senior Golf Tour

PGA Tour Champions driving range showing the Furyk & Friends warming up.

There are five major senior golf tournaments, and the U.S. Senior Open is one of them.

What is the Age for Senior Tournament Tees in Golf?

For tournament play, men must be 50 or older, and women must be 45 or 50 (depending on the tour) ⛳️

Among the five major events for senior golf, the Senior PGA Championship is the oldest. It was founded in 1937.

Major Golf Tournaments

For many years, this was the only major golf tournament open to players aged 50 and over. It is regulated by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA).

There are five major senior golf championships. These are listed below:

  • U.S. Senior Open: Introduced in 1980
  • Senior Players Championship: Introduced in 1983
  • Senior Open Championship: Founded in 1983, introduced as a major in 2003
  • The Regions Tradition: Introduced in 1989
  • Senior PGA Championship: Founded in 1937, and introduced as a major tour in 1980

For a more in-depth review of the tour schedule, you will want to read our PGA TOUR Champions Guide.

Final Thoughts on Senior Tees in Golf

Golf is the perfect sport if you’re searching for something you can continue to play at any age. We hope you now have answered your question, “What is the age for senior tees in golf?”

If you have further questions, you will want to check out our other more in-depth articles listed below.

⛳️ Read Next: Super Senior Golf & Why Golfers Love It

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AUTHOR

Brett Francisco is a Class A PGA Professional, PGTAA Master Teaching Professional, SDGA Advanced Instructor, US Kids Certified Instructor, and PGA Hope Certified with over 15 years of teaching and fitting experience.

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