Once you have decided on your clubs, go to the first tee.
You have the option of teeing your ball anywhere between, but not forward of, the markers.
Don’t forget that you can also tee it a maximum of two club lengths behind the line of the markers.
You can make this knowledge work for you. For instance, you may come to a hole which is a little short for the 5 iron you feel you should use but not short enough for a 6.
Your feeling is that if you use the No. 6 you will have to hit the ball very hard to get there. In this case use the 5 but tee your ball a little higher and use your normal swing. The higher tee will take distance off the shot.
You can vary the height of the tee in the wind, too, teeing a shade higher if you want the help of a following wind and lower if you want a low, boring shot into the wind.
Whatever the trouble is, make this your rule: Tee up your ball on the same side of the teeing ground as the trouble lies, and shoot away from it.
Before you stick the peg in the ground take a good look at what is in front of you. And know what you are looking for. Almost every hole has more trouble on one side of the fairway than it does on the other. This trouble may be obvious: a string of white out-of-bounds stakes, a fence, or a pond. It may be more subtle: longer rough on one side than on the other, or a fairway trap on one side. It might be just a line of small trees, or a hidden ravine, or it might be one big tree with spreading branches out there in the rough about 220 or 230 yards from the tee.
Something else in teeing your ball. Take advantage, if there is any to be taken, of any unevenness of the ground. Often there are little depressions on a tee. If there are in the area you choose, tee your ball on the forward edge of one. This will give you a slightly uphill lie, the lie most golfers like to play from. This is especially important if you are playing with the wind behind you. It will get your ball a little higher. But wherever you tee, be sure there are no obstructions of any kind behind the ball. These might be worm casts, which could deflect the club slightly as it is brought back, or they could be loose, dead grass, the movement of which might distract you. Whatever they are, get rid of them.
Another point to be sure of is that your feet are on level ground, that there is nothing under them which disturbs you, like a stick or a small stone or a clod of mud. Be sure also, especially in wet weather, that your feet aren’t resting on muddy ground or loose earth from which they might slip.
All this may seem to be making mountains out of those worm casts we warned you of, but such observation, inspection, and reaction should become automatic. We assure you they are with the good player. Any little advantages which may exist are even more valuable to you than they are to the pro or the low-handicap player.
Handling the Wind
One of the great and variable hazards of golf is the wind. Few players actually like the wind, because it is an unsettling factor, though sometimes more imaginary than real. It is a fact, though, that an appreciable number of yards are lost when you hit straight into a wind, even though it is a light breeze, and just as many yards are gained when the wind is directly with the shot.
It follows, then, that in playing against the wind the ball should be kept as low as possible, where it is less exposed, and that when the wind is behind us we should get the ball up so the movement of air can exert a greater and longer effect. To get a low ball, play it back farther than normal, toward the center line between the feet if it is the tee shot, back farther for a pitching iron. Keep more weight on the left leg than normally and try to have your hands ahead of the ball at impact. It is also advisable, against the wind, to take one club stronger than you would use in still air, grip it shorter, and use a shorter but firmer swing. Most of these alterations should be reversed in a following wind.
The ball should be played a shade farther forward than usual to get it up quickly, and one club weaker than normal should be used. It, too, should be gripped shorter and swung with a shorter and firmer action. Let the weight movement and the hand action be normal; fooling with them is too dangerous.
Playing in a crosswind from the tee, the ball should be played from the same side the wind is blowing and played for the windward side of the fairway. This way you are letting the wind help the ball just a little, instead of fighting it as you would be if you started the ball even slightly against it. This formula playing from the side of the tee the wind is blowing from holds in a quartering wind too, whether it is with or against you.
You will be faced with a slight conflict if the trouble is on one side of the fairway and the wind is coming from the other. When you find yourself in this dilemma, let the trouble be the determining factor.
One more thought while we are on the teeing ground. Most short (par 3) holes are played with an iron. When you play them, use a wooden tee. This is the only chance you ever have to get a perfect lie for an iron, so why not take it? But remember, the higher you tee the ball, the less distance you will get.
More: Best Golf Tees
If the worst trouble lies on the right side, tee up on the right. Aim for the left center of the fairway and let fly.
This way you will be at least starting your shot away from the danger zone.
If, playing from the right side, you slice badly enough to bring the ball back into the trouble, you will still have two sources of satisfaction: The ball won’t be as deep in the trouble and you will know that you at least tried intelligently to avoid it. There is always the chance, of course, that you will hit the ball across the fairway and into the rough on the opposite side, but then you have been caught by the lesser of the two evils and the advantage is still yours.