Yellow vs white tees

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Yellow vs white tees

Beginner's question, don't know if there's more to it than meets the eye.

Is there a consistent meaning to the yellow and white tees, or does it vary from course to course? I always assumed that the whites were only for competition play, but since taking up the game again this year have obviously noticed plenty of members playing off the whites.

I only play at private courses as a visitor, and have never really checked the rules. I'm starting to assume that members can choose whether to play off the whites or yellows, while visitors are supposed to be off the yellows only. Is this right? Can I play off the yellows as a visitor? Does it depend on your standard of play? How about at a public course with a members section - can I play off whites there?

Obviously I should probably ask these questions in the club pro shop, but since all you nice people are here with nothing better to do, maybe you can tell me instead. Ta.

On your course you should be playing the White Tee's as this is good preparation for the Competitions. Its really your choice if you want to play whites or yellows in general play.When playing other courses its up to you and need to check whether they allow you to play off the whites before you chose. But generally, Yellows is played when visiting other tracks.

My course only allows general play from the white tees for members at weekends. They prefer to keep them in a better state for competitions, so most bounce games will be from the yellows, ladies from the reds, and blue forward tees for juniors. Whites generally are reserved for competition of members. I've not played many courses as a visitor without a member and been allowed to play from the whites.Many modern courses, often championship standard,  now have additional tees and don't dictate what tee you play off. The Dukes for example in St Andrews has 5 options - red, white, blue, green, black, with there ususally being some 150yd + difference between red and black on each hole so you decide what ability  you think you fit into or choose how tough you want the course to be, rather than play of designated tees.

I disagree that 'it is your choice'... In my experience it's all down to the club rules.I have been a member where you can only play off whites during a club competition and another place where you can play off whatever tee you want.Best to ask at the Pro shop or the starter (if the course has one) and they will advise.Best to ask then you know where you stand.

The rules vary from club to club.In my experiece, most clubs only permit visitors to play off the yellow tees. But allow members the choice of white or yellow.  We have three measured sets. White, blue and yellow. We introduced our blues years before CONGU recommended that colour for the longest course. Our blues sit between white and yellow.Those clubs who have (CONGU) blue courses reserve them for major competitionsWe take our white tees in during the winter as they are only used for our majors. At all other times members may choose blue or yellow.In addition our ladies have two measured courses, red and green. The greens are an alternative shorter course mainly used in the winter in order to protect the red tee areas.  Men and lady members may use blue, yellow, red (when in place) or green for social play at any time just for the fun of it. 

Quite a few courses are Visitors - yellow tees onlyand some are Whites for competiton onlyFortunately at our club we members can play off the whites whenever we likeI'd hate to be only able to play off yellows - except in comps - as I can't see how you can practise your game for comps that way

Dick in shorts(13.7) wrote (see)

I'd hate to be only able to play off yellows - except in comps - as I can't see how you can practise your game for comps that way

If you are meaning Qualifying Comps this demonstrates why 'Home' players tend to have an advantage of upto 1.5 strokes over 'away' players on the same track.If you are interested in play in open comps away then you get as much experience as you can on a variety of different length courses. SSS being primarily about length. var fctb_tool=null; function FCTB_Init_59e5cb905763442b9dd3895ae7fa131e(t) { fctb_tool=t; start(fctb_tool); }

At my course if they don't want the white tee used they simply remove the white markers from the teeing ground. No confusion then.

Don Jones 2 wrote (see)

I disagree that 'it is your choice'... In my experience it's all down to the club rules.I have been a member where you can only play off whites during a club competition and another place where you can play off whatever tee you want.Best to ask at the Pro shop or the starter (if the course has one) and they will advise.Best to ask then you know where you stand.

Absolutely this. My first club was yellows for all play except offical club comps.My next club was anyone play any tee they liked at any time.Of the six clubs I've been a member at, I've never met one that differentiated between visitor and member, only competition or non-competition if there was any rule at all.

If you ever make it to France, then it's 99% the case you can pick the tees you want. Some courses have a guide (e.g. for men: 0-8 black, 9-18 white, 18+ yellow), but it's basically up to you. I can't remember playing a course in France where there were restrictions on the choice of tees (outside of a competition or ground maintenance).

No one has mentioned the reds yet    much easier game 

Scotty Pro Platinum wrote (see)

No one has mentioned the reds yet    much easier game 

See post #5

Don Jones 2 wrote (see)

I disagree that 'it is your choice'... In my experience it's all down to the club rules.

Its my choice when playing my track whether I play Yellows or white, because I'm ok to make that choice.We play of the Whites in Comps and general play, if I have any friends sign in, they also play of the whites, as I do not see any point to playing the Yellows, when Comps are from the White Tees. I am also aware, if you chose to, we are able to play of the Blacks if we want to....The joys of being a Member, we pay our fee's and chose what, where and how we play.

Scotty Pro Platinum wrote (see)

No one has mentioned the reds yet    much easier game 

Usually takes me a couple of shots to get past the reds...........

I could not tell you the last time I played my home course off any tees other than the whites, it must be several years.
When I play another course I always ask to play off the very back tees, in the last 2 years only one club has refused my request - Boat of Garten.
Golf clubs with this attitude need to wisen up - if a visitor comes to play their course and pays their money then they should be able to play off whatever tees they want. As great as Boat of Garten was, I won't be going back. If I play a course I want to play it off the measured full length. If I went round in 5 under of the yellows I wouldn't think anything of it, as far as I'm concerned I'll only be proud of a score if it's off the back tees. Also, giving people the choice actually helps the teeing areas as the spread of wear is more even, instead of the yellow tees getting worn for 5 days solid, then the white tees for 2 days.

We allow people to play off whichever tee they wish, we find that this policy leads to relatively even wear as people gravitate to the tees they feel comfortable on, and for at least half is not the back tees.. - our winter comps are off the yellows, which comes as a bit of a shock as it the only time I ever play off them.
I would really be annoyed to play (even more so if I was a member) on a course that would not allow me to play off the full course - although I fully appreciate the need to rest certain tees from time to time.

What's the big deal with the longer course? Presumably those who insist on playing from the back tees only ever take a driver to the practice ground.Where's the skill, accuracy and judgement in that?

Not at all, I practice with a driver a lot less than I practice my short game.
For me, it's about playing the full course. I want to play whatever is the longest yardage on the card.

It's not a distance thing (I'm probably a bit shorter than average for a 3 handicapper). I know most people will have different views on this, but I feel like if I have a good score it's tarnished if it's not from the fullest possible yardage of the course.
It's also more challenging, and I like challenging myself, it's how I get better.

On a similar but unrelated matter, the most annoying thing I can find on a golf course is if the tee markers are 15-20 yards in front of the measured plate on each hole. If the card says the colour tees I am using is a x,xxx yard course, that's the distance I want to play, not 270-360 yards less.

White tees.These are the tees that crafty, money grabbing golf clubs will use in all of their advertising blurb and reviews to tempt you into going to play their "Championship Quality" track....6,852 yards of undulating, demanding golf course with beautiful views, stunning scenery, a test for even the most demanding golfer. Come and play the monster that tamed Seve & Co (who played an opening day exhibition match there against 3 other pro's that you've never, ever heard of) for only £85.00 midweek.Yellow tees.These are the only tees you will be allowed to play off once you have paid your £85.00 midweek greenfee to play this beauty.  The fact that the course now only measures 5,875 yards compared to the advertised 6,852 yards doesn't even come into the equation. The fact that you've still paid £85.00 but been swindled out of 977 yards cuts no ice with the hardened pro. Jeez, that's just over 54 yards a hole you've been short changed on!Clubs ought to be done under the trades description act. If I pay for a cheese halfpounder I expect a cheese halfpounder, not a quarterpounder.

Drive Wedge Putt wrote (see)

Not at all, I practice with a driver a lot less than I practice my short game.

You probably need the practice because you don't play enough on short courses But can you handle (ie shape) a 3 and 5 wood?Of course if you always play the whites on your course there are parts you will never make a stroke from, just walk past. That would present a different challenge.You do realise you have paid for that bit aswell?

Smufter 12 wrote (see)

White tees.These are the tees that crafty, money grabbing golf clubs will use in all of their advertising blurb and reviews to tempt you into going to play their "Championship Quality" track....6,852 yards of undulating, demanding golf course with beautiful views, stunning scenery, a test for even the most demanding golfer. Come and play the monster that tamed Seve & Co (who played an opening day exhibition match there against 3 other pro's that you've never, ever heard of) for only £85.00 midweek.Yellow tees.These are the only tees you will be allowed to play off once you have paid your £85.00 midweek greenfee to play this beauty.  The fact that the course now only measures 5,875 yards compared to the advertised 6,852 yards doesn't even come into the equation. The fact that you've still paid £85.00 but been swindled out of 977 yards cuts no ice with the hardened pro. Jeez, that's just over 54 yards a hole you've been short changed on!Clubs ought to be done under the trades description act. If I pay for a cheese halfpounder I expect a cheese halfpounder, not a quarterpounder.

Smufter, name names, sounds like you still have some steam to vent, who has upset you

I just like to have the choice.To pay my fees and then be told where to play from doesn't cut it with me.I also loathe members who come striding over to tell you you can't play off the whites during normal play when they have no authority to do so.

Also depends on standard of play, would not be nice being a Hacker and having to play of the whites every week, could add 6+ shots to your round.I cant see the problem of using which tee you like, as long as the Green staff move it daily, no hassles,

Jahmoo 16.4 wrote (see)

Smufter, name names, sounds like you still have some steam to vent, who has upset you

Too many to list Jahmoo.Most courses that I have ever played will not let you play off the whites, although their advertising always shows the length of the course from those tees. They never (ever) advertise the yellow tee yardage, so why make you play off them?And by "Championship" courses I am mostly talking about these new places that call themselves that just 'cos they are 7,000 yards long....off the whites.

Most course websites display their card. That shows all the course colours and lengths.It's easy enough to check (phone or email) with the pro or manager which colour is available to visitors. 

DH wrote (see)

Most course websites display their card. That shows all the course colours and lengths.It's easy enough to check (phone or email) with the pro or manager which colour is available to visitors. 

I appreciate that. But what gets my goat is when a club advertises it's course as a 7,000 yarder but you are not allowed to play it as such.If it's £85.00 to play it as a 7,000 yarder, why don't the reduce the price 'cos you've got no chance whatsoever to play it as such and are limited to 5,800 yards off lesser tees?

Show me a site that advertises to visitors one course and denies the opportunity to play it.

DH wrote (see)

Show me a site that advertises to visitors one course and denies the opportunity to play it.

I can show you plenty that advertise their course at full yardage but you won't find out who won't let you play it to it's full length until you go there.Try Chart Hills in Kent. Nick Faldo designed, blah blah blah. Pay your green fee and then ask the starter if you can play it off the back. No chance.That's just for starters. How many more do you want???

Jahmoo 16.4 wrote (see)

Don Jones 2 wrote (see)

I disagree that 'it is your choice'... In my experience it's all down to the club rules.

Its my choice when playing my track whether I play Yellows or white, because I'm ok to make that choice.We play of the Whites in Comps and general play, if I have any friends sign in, they also play of the whites, as I do not see any point to playing the Yellows, when Comps are from the White Tees. I am also aware, if you chose to, we are able to play of the Blacks if we want to....The joys of being a Member, we pay our fee's and chose what, where and how we play.

The question was generic, your response was what happens on your course not a generic response.  Your initial response was still incorrect, look at the other responses many of them back up my response.Smufter - appreciate what you are saying I too have played some courses like this, mainly the newer courses where they have a high opinion of themselves (but are pretty average 'championship' courses).  I have also played at some course where you can only play the championship tees if you are of a certain standard (i.e. 5HCP or less). 

Even more traditional courses won't let you play off the back tees.We have two courses in Bexhill, Cooden and Highwoods (the latter I was a member of). If you tipped up there to play a round I guarantee you that you would not be able to play either off the whites, or medal tees.The fact that they have a card of the course on their website doesn't excuse them. If you are paying full whack you should be able to play the full course if you so choose.

I can't find a reference to the length in the course description blurb.Each hole display shows the length for each colour. I agree that it doesn't specify which tees must be used but it would be unusual for a course of its (claimed repute) to allow non championship or visitor to play off the whites.

DH wrote (see)

Drive Wedge Putt wrote (see)

Not at all, I practice with a driver a lot less than I practice my short game.

You probably need the practice because you don't play enough on short courses But can you handle (ie shape) a 3 and 5 wood?Of course if you always play the whites on your course there are parts you will never make a stroke from, just walk past. That would present a different challenge.You do realise you have paid for that bit aswell?

Don't have a 5 wood, but I can shape a 3 wood, and more importantly adjust it to hit different yardages.I can honestly say I have played from every part of my home course, other than probably the first 100 yards off each tee. Even playing off the same tees in every game for a year sees me play from everywhere, due to various factors such as time of year, ball temperature, wind direction, and personal peaks and troughs of swing timing. At the moment my first hole is driver 7 iron instead of usual driver wedge in the middle of summer.There is a big assumption that playing from yellows would see me playing from different places, the whole idea of a tee shot is to put the ball in the most suitable position for the next shot, that doesn't mean hitting a driver as far as you can. Even off white tees I often hit a 3 wood or 3 iron off the tee, to give me the shot I want to hit next. I play a short course regularly when I am back up in Scotland, but the driver rarely comes out of the bag, simply because it doesn't leave me where I want to be for my next shot.The point is, whether I play driver wedge, or 3W 8 iron, from yellows, as far as I'm concerned it's not playing the full course, whether that be driver 9 iron or 3W 7 iron.

Played La Cala a few years ago with my wife - we both play off 6. We asked which tees we could play off and were told the yellows and reds. They had moved the yellows so far forward that they were beyond the red blocks and the reds were even further forward. It made a real mockery of the course. It was not wet, they had not hollow tined or scarified or worked on the other tees - it was merely done to get more people round the course quicker, even so it was a 5 hour round. One of the reasons we gave up playing on the 'Costa del golf'.

while i have been over here i have played quite a few championship courses and i always ask on the first tee which tees i can play off, im not sure exactly why but always want to play of as far back as i can, maybe to do with playing the same course as the pros play in tournaments, putting my self against them so i can sit ant home and watch tournaments and say i hit of that spot, no 100yds farther foward.most courses let me play off the back standard tee but they are still nowhere near the open tees (turnberry, carnoustie, st andrews) and birkdale only let me tee off the yellows. the differences can be massive.birkdale, 800 yds. st andrews about the same, carnoustie even more.the only course i have been able to play off the back tees is bear mountain in canada which is 7203ydsmore on topic, my home course plays white tees for competitions and yellows for all other play, cat 1 golfers can play off whites all the time.

When we played Kiawah Island I asked the caddie which tee we should play off - he had watched my wife and I warming up on the range and suggested tees at about 6600 for me (just about 100 yards shorter than the tees they played on in the Senior USPGA , albeit in windier conditions)and about 6000 for my wife. He was about right as it was tough but not unfair. He had a lot of people there wanting to play from the 'tips' - at Kiawah they can stretch it to over 8000 yards - most of these rounds ended as total disasters. Some of these back tees needed at 280+ carry to get over the water from the tee - totally unplayable for amateurs.
So I I believe you should have the choice but equally you should know your limitations.

About 6 years ago I was told off for using the white tees at an old established course in Devon. The course wasn't that long, even off the whites (5,500yds or there abouts if I remember correctly). The reason? - I wasn't a member.If I'm evaluating a new-ish course "with aspirations" I always like to play as far back as possible as the back tees are generally how the course was set up, in the designer's eye, with the "lesser" tees sometimes put-in as an after-thought. This is a generalisation of course, and for old, established courses the opposite can happen where it's the newly added back tees that are the after-thought. However, you could only understand the original back tees at older courses if playing with old equipment, like at Musselburgh near Edinburgh where they rent out wooden-shafted clubs.

Spartacus (9.9) wrote (see)

I just like to have the choice.To pay my fees and then be told where to play from doesn't cut it with me.I also loathe members who come striding over to tell you you can't play off the whites during normal play when they have no authority to do so.

a rather strong statement.the club determines the teeing grounds.  therefore, all members have the right to protect their course.  this applies especially against  those who think the club rules do not apply to them.in my area, as far as i know, yellow tees are for bounce games and whites ONLY for medals and comps.

Spartacus (9.9) wrote (see)

I also loathe members who come striding over to tell you you can't play off the whites during normal play when they have no authority to do so.

They have every right. They can also pull you up for ignoring any dress code.If it is a Members Club, they are the owners. If you don't like their rules don't play the course. If that damages their business they will change. If it doesn't they will keep the status quo. We only permit use of the yellows and visitors are still overwhelming us.Members pay a lot of cash to do as they wish. Remember, visitors are only cannon fodder.

DH wrote (see)

Remember, visitors are only cannon fodder.

Sometimes theyre not even that good!!!

I have played East Sussex National a few times and have played off the championship tees on both courses - the starter on each occasion was delighted that someone was using them.The starer at Valderrama also asked if we'd like to play of the championship tees. Obviously we did but then got chewed up and spat out by the course. Nice to have the chance though.

My course allows members to play from the whites and visitors yellows only. However the whites are not fixed and will move to perhaps the longest yellow position.I always play the whites at there furthest point, because I want to play the course at it's toughest and be prepared for medal competitions. No one has told me off for it, would I listen, no, I pay my subs and maintain the course, by repairing my damage and the damage that others create. If I went to another venue I play to their request or the suggestion of my playing partner (member). All this I want to play the longest possible course stuff is not so important to me on away days - because this is for fun. As for difficulty level, well a yellow tee is closer by usually a club length - and what is easier to hit, a shorter club.

It can also have to do with the time taken for a round. When I play in the championship tees competition it is 1111 yards longer than the yellows where the visitors are usually playing off at the same time. Most of the time we have been able to keep up with them. Can you imagine how long the round would take if everyone was off the championship tees.

Smufter 12 wrote (see)

Try Chart Hills in Kent. Nick Faldo designed, blah blah blah. Pay your green fee and then ask the starter if you can play it off the back. No chance.

I am a bit surprised. Unless you were in a party of 12 or more (when the yellows are allocated), the starter there is supposed to discuss with the visitors their standard of play and determine the appropriate tees for the 3/4 ball. Perhaps you didn't have your hcap cert(s)

Dalmahoy starter also determnined tees from handicaps - whites for low cappers only - we played off yellows - and must admit didn't think a lot of the opening 7 holes

At my old club the Whites were used only for Club Comps. Yellows for general play irrespective of whether you were a member or a visitor.At my new club you can play off whatever tee you like as a member. Not sure if you are a visiting society....I've seen some play off the yellows and I myself have played off the Whites as part of a visiting society (before I became a member).