Golf Course Yardage Markers Measure to the Center of the Green

But some may list three yardages — front, center and back

Yardage marker on a golf hole at Hilton Head
This yardage marker says 192 yards - but is that to the front or center of the green?. Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Yardage markers on golf courses — teeing ground signs or other indicators — tell golfers how far they are from the green. But is the yardage listed on such signs measuring to the front of the green or the center of the green (or maybe even the back of the green)? It can make a difference in club selection, especially for very good golfers and especially on deep greens.

The answer: Yardages should be measured to the center of the putting green.

Yardage Signs on the Golf Course

The yardage of any given golf hole is reported on the scorecard and usually on a marker at the teeing ground. The teeing ground marker typically tells golfer the number of the hole, the yardage of the hole, and the par of the hole (such as in the photo above).

The yardage may also be marked at various points along each hole, for example, from 200 yards out (from the putting green), 150 yards out, and 100 yards out. A golf course might uses color-coded posts on either side of the fairway where, for example, blue might indicate 200 yards out, white 150 yards out, and red 100 yards out. Such indicators make it easier for golfers to determine how far they have for approach shots into greens.

Many courses also put yardages on sprinkler heads or other objects found in or alongside the fairway.

And assuming the golf course is using the correct procedure for measuring hole lengths, all yardages given are to the center of the greens.

What About Markers That List Multiple Yardages?

Some golf courses list yardage on sprinkler caps or on blocks or discs embedded in fairways. Such markers are letting you know how far it is from that point on the hole to the green.

(Quick aside: I was playing a par-5 once and, thinking I had a shot to go for the green in two, walked ahead to see if any yardage markers were embedded in the fairway nearby. And I found a sprinkler cap, but written on it were not any yardages. Instead, it had these words: "No way, Jose." I laid up.)

But what if such a marker lists more than one yardage? In that cause, it will probably give you three distances — one each to the front, middle and back of the green. In such a case, the shortest yardage listed is to the front of the green, the longest yardage to the back of the green, and the yardage in the middle to the center of the green.

So to summarize:

  • When yardage markers list one number, that is the yardage to the center of the green.
  • When yardage markers list three numbers, those are the yardages to the front, middle and back of the green.