What Are 'The Tips' on a Golf Course?

And what does 'playing from the tips' mean?

Golfer playing from the tips on a hole
Playing from the tips means playing the golf at its longest distance (its most rearward tee box). ImagineGolf/E+/Getty Images

"The tips" is a slang term golfers use to denote one of two things:

  1. The most rearward set of tees on each golf hole;
  2. Or, collectively, playing the golf course at its longest distance (because you are using No. 1).

(Note: If you navigated to this page looking for golf tips - articles about golf instruction or golf lessons, please see our Free Golf Tips index.)

"The tips" is a synonym for several other golf terms that describe the longest set of tees on a golf course:

Another slang term that came into use when Tiger Woods arrived on the scene is "Tiger tees," although you don't hear that as much anymore today.

How Golfers Use 'The Tips'

A golfer who chooses to play from the rearmost set of tees is said to be "playing the tips" or "playing from the tips."

The term is a noun but can be used as a verb, too. For example, if a golf course has a maximum playable length of 7,000 yards, golfers might say that the golf course "tips out" at 7,000 yards.

Here are some more usage examples of how golfers employ this term:

  • "We wanted to play the course at its longest, so we decided to play from the tips."
  • "Which tees are we playing today?" "We're playing from the tips."
  • "Tipped out, this course play 7,240 yards."
  • "What are the tips on this hole?" "It's 420 yards from the tips."

Which Golfers Should Play From the Tips?

Playing "from the tips" is something best left to low-handicap golfers. Mid- and especially high-handicap golfers - not to mention beginners, weekend golfers, recreational golfers — who play the golf course at its longest are only making things more difficult on themselves. That means higher scores, slower play and, most likely, less enjoyment.

Every golfer should choose a set of tees that creates a manageable yardage for his or her skill level.