The Blue Tees on a Golf Course and Who Should Play Them

Golfer teeing off next to blue tee marker.
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Traditionally in golf, "blue tees" are a way of referring to the rear-most tee boxes on a golf course. If a golfer wanted to play the golf course at its longest length, he played from the blue tees.

And some golf courses still use the color blue to denote the back tees or championship tees. The difference is that in "the old days" was almost always used; today, a golf course might use any color imaginable.

The key, though, is if you catch a golfer or golfers talking about playing from the blue tees, it probably means they are talking about playing from the back tees or championship tees--the course's longest tees.

The Traditional Color Coding of Tee Boxes

Every golf hole starts from the teeing ground. Every teeing ground includes multiple tee boxes. These tee boxes are designated by "tee markers," which might be a pair of cones, blocks, globes or some other object stuck in the ground or laid on the ground.

Those tee markers are color-coded. If you play from, say, the white tees (the tee box designated by the white tee markers) on Hole 1, then you will also play from the whites on Hole 2, Hole 3 and every other hole.

Traditionally, golf courses had three tee boxes, designated by three colors:

  • Red tees: Also called the forward tees or "ladies tees," the reds were the shortest set of tees.
  • White tees: Also called the middle tees, regular tees or "men's tees," the whites were the middle-distance set.
  • Blue tees: Also called the back tees or championship tees, the blues represented the course's longest yardage.

Today many courses use four, five, six or more tee boxes per hole, and the traditional colors are not necessarily used at all; or, if they are, don't necessarily correspond to their traditional placements. A blue set of tees today might be anywhere on the teeing ground, from forward to middle or back.

But the traditional meaning of "blue tees" is still something that is used as a synonym for the championship tees. If you read a generic reference to blue tees, or hear the term in conversation, the reference is probably to a golf course's back set of tees.

Who Should Play the Blue Tees

So if "blue tees" is used as a synonym for "back tees" or "championship tees," then who should be playing them? Playing those tee boxes means playing the golf course at its longest distance. And only low-handicappers should do that.

If you try to play from a yardage that is too long for your skill level, your score will go up while your level of enjoyment will (probably) go down. So choose the set of tees appropriate for your skill level.