The tee-off point of a hole is where every round of golf begins, and is of great importance in course design as it is the only place where all players are obliged to pass and remain for a few minutes.
This is also true on the green, but here players are much more focused on the shot to be played and the study of surfaces, whereas when we set foot on the tee we are much more focused on the surrounding scenery.
Golf course architects exploit this characteristic and align tee shots with the most beautiful views, seeking to position hitters at the highest and most panoramic points of the course.
Tees therefore have two important functions, an aesthetic and a strategic one, as in addition to being the points from which players are most inclined to admire the beauty of the course, they also play a significant role in dictating the strategy of a hole.
For a long time, golf courses did not have formalized tees.
The hole began within two club-lengths from the end of the previous hole's green.
With the growing popularity of golf, it became necessary to build specific tees to address the problem of divots and wear near the greens.
In today's golfing world, the gap in ability and length between players is so vast that architects must design different tees for each hole.
This allows each individual to enjoy their round without it being too easy or too challenging.
The advanced tees must be strategically placed to provide equal challenges for players, considering both length and angle of play.
However, the notion that all players can have the same shot at the green when playing from different tees is overrated. Practically speaking, it's challenging to achieve as the tee lengths range from 320 to 130 meters. Constructing more than five tee boxes per hole isn't practical from a maintenance or aesthetic perspective.
Having multiple tees also allows versatility in setting up the course, allowing for daily variations in a hole's strategy.
As demonstrated during the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone, some par 4 tees were shortened to make the greens "drivable."
From a maintenance perspective, it's fundamental that tees have an adequate size. Generally, the "yellow" tee, played by the majority of golfers, should be the largest, and par 3 tees should have double the surface area as they're more prone to damage.
Ultimately, aesthetics play a significant role, too.
As such, architects must work to design visually appealing courses with precise attention to detail and a focus on functionality.
From an aesthetic point of view, tees can be divided into three major categories: oval, rectangular, and free-form.
Oval tees are the most common and were the trademark of George Fazio after WWII.
They remain popular because they are the most convenient from a maintenance perspective. However, from an aesthetic point of view, they can sometimes appear mundane.
Rectangular tees have a clean and regular look, but they require more time to cut.
Nevertheless, they are making a comeback in recent years.
Free-form tees are the most visually appealing, but they are challenging to construct and significantly increase the area to be maintained. They represent a true extension of the fairway, without a clearly defined flat area.