Why PGA Tour players have late and early tee times during tournaments
PGA Tour

Why PGA Tour players have late and early tee times during tournaments



Every week on the PGA Tour, tee times and groupings are announced on Tuesdays, giving players an idea of their schedule and fans an idea of when their favorite players will be on the golf course.

Typically, we find out on Tuesday about the groupings, which are usually done in threesomes, for the first two rounds. (Some tournaments with small fields only share tee times for the first round, then re-pair based on the first-round leaderboard.)

However, like clockwork, most every week of a PGA Tour event, each player has a tee time in the morning one day and a tee time in the afternoon for the other day between Thursday and Friday. Why is that?

Why PGA Tour players have late and early tee times during tournaments

The PGA Tour has rules to determine players' first- and second-round groupings and tee times. The tour uses a merit-based system relying on a player's status on the PGA Tour to determine how desirable of a tee time players get. The better status a player has, the more likely they are to get ideal tee times.

However, regardless of a player's status in the tee-time caste system of sorts, each player will be assigned an early tee time for one round and a late tee time for the other. The PGA Tour has morning and afternoon waves of tee times in an effort to make things more equitable for all the players in the field.

If a player tees off in the morning wave of Round 1, then they'll tee off in the afternoon wave of Round 2 -- and vice versa.

For example, if a player is slotted in the first group off the first tee in the morning wave of Round 1, then they'll be slotted in the first group off the 10th tee in the afternoon wave of Round 2. This player would be said to have the early-late draw.

As another example, if a player is slotted in the fifth group off the first tee in the afternoon wave of Round 1, then they'll be slotted in the fifth group off the 10th tee in the morning wave of Round 2. This player would be said to have the late-early draw.

Note that players will also alternate starting tees if they're playing in a tournament with a field large enough to require a two-tee start.

Again, all of this is done in the interest of fairness. The PGA Tour wants players to see the course in the morning and the afternoon, as well as start on the first and 10th tees, so everyone has close to the same experience between two rounds. Players are more likely to score better in the morning, as there will have been fewer players on the course at that point in the day, meaning better rolling greens and less ball marks and divots on the course. In the main, it is more difficult to score well in the afternoon.

Of course, the Tour can't control the weather, and sometimes that means there is a distinct advantage to one side of the draw -- either late-early or early-late.

This also tells us that players who go out later in the third and final rounds of tournaments have a minor disadvantage compared to players who start earlier on the weekends. After all, those who barely made the cut go out early on Saturday, and those near the bottom of the third-round leaderboard go out early on Sunday. However, while those players may have an advantage in the conditions they see, they're likely not playing as well as those ahead of them and will see only a minor benefit from that early weekend tee time.

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