How Do Tee Times Work In Golf?

How Do Tee Times Work In Golf

There are a number of important rules and manners to follow when playing a round of golf, including following the correct procedure for tee times, but what are tee times, and how do they work? Tee times are one of the most important and formal aspects of a golf game and help the play of a round go swiftly and smoothly for everyone. Here, we will examine the various aspects of tee times, including all the do’s and don’ts of setting, keeping, and using one.


To begin with, tee times are a system of play in golf that act as a sort of reservation system. Oftentimes, on both amateur and professional golf courses, multiple players or groups of players will be on the course simultaneously, and in order to avoid them constantly running into each other and slowing their games, golf courses make use of tee times to structure and organize things. Tee times are predetermined slots that a golfer or group of golfers register for prior to playing on the course. For example, if you set a tee time for 10:00 AM at a certain golf course, the course will expect you and any other members of your group to be on the course and teeing off your first shot at precisely 10:00 AM. 

Setting a Tee Time

There are various ways someone can go about setting a tee time for their round of golf. Firstly, it is important to research the course you plan to play on in order to see if they offer tee times. As we will explain below, some courses do not use tee times and allow players or groups to enter the course whenever it is open. Secondly, once you determine that the course you are playing at requires tee times, you can check to see if they allow tee times to be booked online or over the phone. Many golf courses allow you to set tee times online via their website, but others may require that tee times be set up over the phone. Additionally, if you live close-by to the course, you can always go in person and ask about tee times in the clubhouse. 

Most golf courses recommend that golfers set their tee times at least one, but often several days in advance of the day they want to play. In order to ensure that you are in place at your tee time, it is best to arrive at the golf course around 30 minutes before your scheduled tee time.

How Long is a Tee Time?

Once your tee time is set and you have gathered your group, it is important to know how long your tee time will last and what gaps there might be between your tee time and the tee time of the next group. This information is vital for golfers, as it allows them to gauge how quickly or slowly they can play each hole of a course. In general, tee times last about as long as it should take for each member of a golfing group to make their first shot off the tee. This is typically considered to be an average of five minutes. So, for the 10:00 AM tee time we used above, it would be expected that a group of golfers teeing off at 10:00 would move away from the teeing grounds and proceed to their next shots by 10:05 AM.

Most golf courses implement a system of intervals between tee times, which averages between seven and 15 minutes in length. When setting up a tee time, it may be important to ask the course you are playing at what the tee time interval is. For players who want as much time per hole as possible, a course with a longer interval between tee times will be preferable, as that will allow as much time as possible for each group to finish a hole and not feel rushed. However, this format does mean that the course will be able to offer fewer tee times on any given day, meaning that it may be harder to secure a tee time during peak seasons.

Can You Play Golf Without a Tee Time?

Some golf courses do not use or require tee times for golfers. Generally, a golf course will fall into one of three categories concerning tee time policy: tee times being required, tee times being available but not required, and tee times not accepted. For the last two types, of course, it is possible for golfers to arrive without appointments and begin playing if the course is open. However, it is important to remember that this can cause some confusion or wait time depending on how busy the course is. Additionally, it is unwise to assume that a course does not use tee times, as showing up unannounced at a course that does require them may lead to you being turned away. Therefore, it is always best to research ahead of time.

What if You are Late to a Tee Time?

Many golfers wonder what the procedure is if one is late for a tee time for any reason. Strictly speaking, it is considered bad form to be late for a previously-scheduled tee time, and many courses will turn away golfers who arrive late for their tee time, making them unable to play that day. Some courses will allow golfers who miss their tee time to play at a later tee time if a slot is open. However, this runs the risk of the open tee time being much later, so golfers should do absolutely everything they can to arrive at the course prior to their scheduled tee time in order to ensure that they are ready to go when their time arrives. 


Tee times are an important part of golfing etiquette, as they help maintain the flow of the game and ensure that players are not constantly interfering with the play of other groups. When planning a round of golf, researching and setting up a tee time for oneself or one’s group is one of the first and most vital steps, as doing so will allow everything else to proceed smoothly.