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See the tee

Tiger Woods uses two different types of tees on his drives. Here's why

December 17, 2022
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Ben Jared

ORLANDO —The green on the 13th hole at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club was 352 yards away, and just started to clear. Tiger Woods grabbed his driver and reached for the tee in  his pocket. He picked it out, took one look at it, then turned to his caddie Joe LaCava.

"Give me the long tee," he said.

LeCava retrieved the pouch in his bag and handed him one. Tiger pegged it into the ground, and a few moments later, sent his ball high into the air. It ended just left of the green, setting up an easy up and down for Team Woods' 10th birdie in 13 holes on Saturday in the PNC Championship.

With Tiger, I've learned to pay close attention to the details, because I've learned he's always one step ahead, gleaning some small and clever advantage somewhere so small that the rest of us wouldn't think of. There's no whiff of complacency. You don't come to dominate the sport in the manner he did without running up the margins.

And so, just as club selection becomes a carefully considered part of Tiger's pre-shot checklist, so does tee selection. Turns out, he uses two of them: a standard 2.1-inch tee, and a longer 3.3 inch.

While most tour players simply use a longer tee and vary the height when required, Tiger keeps two different sizes in his bag so that when he tees them into the ground, he can keep the height he tees the ball consistent.

Why Tiger uses the standard tee

My mouth sufficiently watered by this rather innocuous discovery, I kept an eye on it for the rest of the back nine. After his dalliance with the longer tee on the 13th, he returned to the short tee for his drives on the 14th, 15th,and 16th holes. Each time Tiger hit a slight cut, which has become his go-to shot off the tee. That's what the standard tee is there for: to give him a little bit more spin on the holes that have trouble on one or both sides.

Why Tiger uses the longer tee

But then, on the 18th hole, the long tee came back out. Tiger pegged it high and sent a high draw down the right side. By using the longer tee, Tiger is trying to get his driver "a little higher" into the air, LaCava says. It also allows him to hit the ball slightly higher on the clubface, which in turn reduces spin and helps him hit the ball longer. So when he reaches for the long tee, that's a subtle cue that Tiger is reaching for a little extra, so get excited.

If the standard tee-fade is his stock, the long tee lends itself to a draw. Tiger calls this drive his "high bomb" drive in Golf Digest's "My Game" series, and the long tee is a small but essential part of it.