What Are Split Tees in Golf? When Are They Used?

by Alvin Daniel
what are split tees in golf

In major golf tournaments with hundreds of players, starting the event can become a major issue. To speed up the pace of play and avoid delays, organizers often use the Split Tee method. But what exactly are they and when should you use them? Read on to learn more about split tees, and how they can benefit your golf game.

What Are Split Tees in Golf?

In the world of golf tournaments, the typical process involves groups of golfers teeing off one after another from the No.1 tee.

However, when split tee use is in effect, this process is flipped on its head. With split tees, groups of golfers simultaneously start their rounds from both the No.1 and No.10 tees. This means that each succeeding tee time will see one group teeing off the No.1 hole, and another group teeing off the No.10 hole, ensuring that players can complete their rounds in a timely manner.

For instance, at 9:00 am, Group 1 initiates play from Hole 1, while concurrently, Group 2 commences play from Hole 10. While following the conventional method where each group commences play on hole 1 sequentially. That means Group 1 will start at hole 1 at 9:am and after that around 10 minutes, another group will start also at hole 1.

Why Are Split Tees Used?

what are split tees in golf

When Are Split Tees Used In Professional Tournaments?

Generally, split tees are used when the tournament officials are concerned about the number of golfers involved in the game.

For instance, when a tournament has an exceptionally large field of participants, or where playing conditions are difficult, split tees may be used.

By delegating golfers to different tees, officials hope to make the game run more efficiently. A good example to cite is the U.S. Open, where the split tees are employed in the first two rounds before the field is cut. In contrast, the British Open, played during a time of long daylight hours, doesn’t utilize split tees.

Therefore, while split tees might require more officiating, they often result in a shorter duration of play and a satisfying tournament experience overall.

When Are Split Tees Used In Professional Tournaments?

Split tees are a common sight in professional golf tournaments, especially in National Opens featuring a field of up to 156 professionals. If you tuned in to watch the recent PGA Championship, you may have noticed the use of split tees on Thursday and Friday.

This setup will be employed once again in the upcoming British Open. By using two tees, tournament organizers can take advantage of every ounce of daylight and ensure an early tee time for the first group. Such attention to detail is what sets professional golf tournaments apart, and why they attract international stars and amateurs alike.

How Much Time Apart Are The Tee Times Usually?

To create a seamless and enjoyable experience for golfers, many local clubs have implemented schedules that factor in appropriate time frames for each group. To ensure the smooth flow of play, the average tee time often spans around 7-10 minutes. This time frame allows for ample space and opportunity for golfers to finish second shots before a new group takes the green or fairway.

However, in most professional golf tournaments, tee times are spaced 10-11 minutes apart. This is to ensure that players can complete their rounds in a timely manner and avoid delays.

What Does Double Tees (2 Tees) Mean?

Double tees are a common arrangement on many golf courses, where groups of players tee off simultaneously from both the first and 10th holes during a predetermined time slot. While this setup provides scheduling flexibility for players and course management, it can present a challenge to maintaining an optimal pace of play. Specifically, if players finish the back nine holes before those on the front, it can lead to delays at the turn. However, when golfers maintain a consistent speed, double tees can be a seamless experience, enabling golfers to enjoy a round at their leisure.

Other Types of Starts in Golf Tournaments 

In addition to split tees, there are other types of starts that can be used in golf tournaments.

Shotgun

A shotgun start in golf is a method for efficiently completing 18 holes with a large group of golfers. In this approach, each fourball is assigned to different tees around the course and begins play simultaneously. For instance, if the organizer sets the start time at 1 pm, you and your foursome would arrive at the clubhouse to prepare for your round. When the starter’s horn sounds, you would begin making your way through the course, following the layout until you complete all 18 holes. It’s a straightforward and practical way to ensure a smoother and faster pace of play for 72 golfers, making it an attractive option for tournaments and other organized events.

Reverse Shotgun

Reverse shotgun golf is a modified version of the traditional shotgun start that is designed to accommodate smaller groups of golfers. In reverse shotgun, players are assigned to the 18th hole and play backwards through the course.

Double Shotgun

Instead of groups starting simultaneously from different tee boxes, a double shotgun start assigns two groups to each tee box. Group A gets the early tee times, starting at 8:00am, while Group B hits the links later on at 12:00pm.

Standard

The standard start is a fundamental aspect of completing a round. Golfers typically tee off at the first hole and proceed to play through all 18 holes until they return to the clubhouse. This approach is commonly used in situations where there are fewer golfers on the tee sheet and enough time to complete the full 18-hole round.

However, the start procedure for professional PGA Tour events is slightly different. These tournaments are restricted to exempt players, and following the standard start is the norm. Nonetheless, the only major tournament to use this approach is the iconic Masters. At Augusta National, the standard start holds a unique significance that sets it apart from other major tournaments.

FAQs

How Do Split Tee Times Work?

Split tee times work by having two groups of golfers begin their rounds from two different holes (usually the 1st and 10th) at the same time. This system reduces the total tee-off time by half, ensuring a smoother flow of the game. The cycle continues with new groups teeing off from both starting points every ten minutes until all groups have commenced play.

How Do You Determine Which Tees To Play From?

To determine the most suitable tees to play from, consider the average distance you hit your 5-iron. Calculate this average distance and multiply it by 36. Then, select the tees with a total yardage that aligns closest to this figure. This method provides a good metric to help you choose the most suitable tees based on your playing level and abilities.

How Should Your Group Determine Who Tees Off First On A New Hole?

Determining the player who tees off first on a new hole in golf is typically based on the initial order established by the committee. On the first hole, the player listed first on the scorecard tees off first. For subsequent holes, if the initial order doesn’t apply, the sequence is decided by lot or other fair means such as a coin flip.

Conclusion

Golf courses have many different methods for teeing off, and each type serves a specific purpose. Split tees are used to maintain pace of play and provide an efficient golf experience, while shotgun starts are perfect for handling large groups. In addition, reverse shotguns and double shotguns allow organizers to address the needs of smaller gatherings, while the standard  start is used for classic golf tournaments. Ultimately, it’s up to the event organizers to decide which approach works best according to their needs and preferences. No matter what option they choose, all golfers can enjoy an enjoyable and efficient round of golf on the course.

Author

  • Alvin Daniel

    Hello everyone, I'm Alvin Daniel. I was born in the Philippines and came to the United States when I was 16 years old. I started playing golf at that age and have loved it ever since. I turned professional when I was 21 and have been working as a golf instructor and guide ever since. My goal is to help everyone know more about this great game of golf. And, hopefully, through my instruction, they can improve their skills and enjoy the game even more.

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