What is a two-tee or split-tee start at a golf tournament, and when are they used?
Golf Culture

What is a two-tee or split-tee start at a golf tournament, and when are they used?

Tiger Woods on the first tee of a gallery-less Saturday at the 2012 AT&T National.

At most golf tournaments held on major professional tours around the world, organizers employ what they call a two-tee or a split-tee start. For a new golf fan, that can be confusing, particularly when it comes to finding out where a player is on the golf course.

What is a two-tee or split-tee start at a golf tournament?

Golf tournaments using a two-tee or split-tee start employ the system because they want to get their starting field to complete a round within a single day. Tournaments typically use a split-tee start when they have a larger field -- a good minimum is at least 90 players -- or when available playing daylight hours are shorter due to time of year.

Tournaments conduct a split-tee start by taking their starting field for the tournament or a specific round and split them into two even -- or as even as possible -- groups.

One half of the field will start their round on the first tee of the course, and they'll play from No. 1 all the way through to No. 18. The other half of the field will start on another tee box, and that's typically the 10th tee box. Assuming the players begin on the 10th tee, they'll play from No. 10 through to No. 18, then they'll play the second nine holes starting on No. 1 and playing through until they finish on No. 9.

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The players who tee off on No. 10 are typically listed on the tee sheet, either printed or online, with an asterisk next to their name or their time. That means they're not teeing off on No. 1, but rather they're teeing off on No. 10. (There are some tournaments where players will start on No. 9 or No. 11, depending on the course layout.) They're then listed on leaderboards with an asterisk, as well as how many holes they've played, and that could be the actual hole on the course they're playing or how many holes they've played so far in the round.

Typically, once a cut is made, tournament organizers stop using a two-tee or split-tee start. All the players then tee off the first tee for the sake of continuity and the fact that there are fewer players in the field who need to finish the round.

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