Friday, November 25

The Origin of the Teeing Ground

By Barry Ward

Copyright © Barry Ward. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

THERE WAS NO SUCH THING as “a teeing ground” until about 1875. Before then our golfing forebears teed up on the putting green, using a pinch of sand.

The first Rules of Golf, devised in 1744 by the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith (later to become The Honourable Company of Muirfield) stipulated that after holing out the ball should be teed up “within one club length of the hole.”

By 1828 this had become “no less than two club lengths and no more then four.” An appreciation of putting surfaces was evidently emerging—the first mechanical grass cutter was invented about this time—because this was later extended to “no less than four club lengths or more than six” and by about 1870 the distance stipulated was “no less than eight and no more than 12 club lengths.”

The formal teeing ground was first mentioned in 1875 and in 1882 the amended Rules of Golf referred to “the tee” rather than the distance from the hole.

In 1893 the teeing ground was accurately defined for the first time as “two marks in line at right angles to the course (the fairway) and two club lengths in depth.”

There was no mention of the proximity to the hole: the tee was placed a short distance from it and conveniently positioned for the next hole. Thus were the first steps taken towards golf course architecture, where the tee and its green became an entity.

It was a development that was to change the very nature of the game and have lasting implications.

Barry Ward is a veteran golf writer and the publisher/editor of, a guide to luxurious, family friendly golf resorts and destinations. He lives in golf-gorgeous Rutland, England.

(Photo credit: Giyu, Flickr, Creative Commons license)


Dave Andrews said...

Very interesting. Moving the tee off the green must have helped in speeding up play too. :) Imagine waiting for a group to tee off if they were standing ten feet away from the pin.

adeus said...

Also interesting and worth mentioning is that in those days a lot of the courses in the hot areas had "sand greens". In those they had boxes of sand that were used to build mounds that were used in teeing off, called "tee boxes", which is of course the current term for it.

Mark said...

Many golfers don't know about pinch of sand to create a tee, and sand greens, or playing a field hockey type game in the fields of Scotland. Great post, this should be taught more throughout the game of golf. Our history