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What Does Split Tees Mean In Golf

what does split tees mean in golf
what does split tees mean in golf

Split tees are a golf tournament starting format with groups teeing off simultaneously on holes 1 and 10.

The standard way to start players in a golf tournament is to have each group start on hole 1 and tee off one after the other.

For example, the first group tees off at 8:00 am, followed by the second ground at 8:10, the third group at 8:20, etc., until all groups have teed off.

With a split tee start, at 8:00 am, Group 1 would tee off on hole 1, and Group 2 would tee off on hole 10.

At 8:10, Group 3 would tee off on hole 1, and Group 4 would tee off on hole 10.

This would continue with two groups teeing off simultaneously every ten minutes until all groups have started play.

This allows tournament directors to have all groups tee off in half the timeit would take with a standard start.

Split tee starts are also known as two-tee starts, tandem starts, and double tee starts.

When And Why Are Split Tees Used?

Split tees are used for a variety of reasons:

Size of field

  • On the PGA Tour, split tees are rarely used on Saturday or Sunday because the field has been cut by then.
  • Split tees are typically used on Thursday and Friday in tournaments that have larger fields.

Weather

  • Sometimes the weather can push start times later or earlier in the day.
  • In either case, if the tournament director suddenly only has 6 hours of daylight to get a field through their round instead of the expected 12+, they can be forced to implement a split tee start.
  • Or in the case of the 2023 Masters, the tournament directors must get the entire field through almost two full rounds of play in one day in order to finish on Sunday.
  • In extreme cases, a shotgun start can be used, although this has never been used on the PGA Tour.

Daylight

  • Some tournaments run during a time of year when days are shorter must implement split tee starts.

How Far Apart Are Tee Times Usually?

Most professional golf tournaments space tee times 10-11 minutes apart.

How Does A Two-Tee Start Work?

The US Open starting format on Thursday and Fridays is an excellent example of how two-tee (split tee) starts work.

In 2022, there were 156 golfers in the US Open.

Professional golf events typically only start players in groups of 2 or 3, not 4.

With 156 competitors teeing off in threesomes, 52 tee times were needed to start everyone.

Using a standard start and tee times 11 minutes apart, it would take over 9.5 hours just to start everyone!

Given that rounds on the PGA Tour are regularly 5+ hours, that would require close to 15 hours of daylight for everyone to finish.

Due to location and time of year, most tournaments don’t have that much daylight to work with, thus the two-tee start.

With a split tee start, the US Open can cut the time needed to start everyone by half.

So instead of needing 52 tee times, the US Open only needs 26 when using a split tee start.

And to account for slower play, they have morning and afternoon start times.

As you can see in the screenshot below, in 2022, the 26 morning groups teed off at 11-minute intervals starting at 6:45 am and going until 8:58 am.

The 26-afternoon groups began play from 12:30 until 2:42.

The break from 8:58 am to 12:30 pm gave the last two morning groups to tee off over 3.5 hours to finish their 9 holes, ensuring that those teeing off in the afternoon would not be forced to wait to start their round.

And with the last group teeing off at 2:42 pm, the tournament director ensured that all groups would have plenty of time to finish their round.

Read More:

  • What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf?
  • What Is A Tee Time?
  • What Is A Marker Player In A Golf Tournament?