Distance markers are provided practically on all golf courses. Nowadays, most amateur golfers use their own distance measuring devices, such as GPS applications or laser rangefinders. Nevertheless, golf courses stick to tradition and do not resign from providing information on the distance to the green.
The following are most often used to provide information about distances:
- distance stakes / posts with the appropriate color or sign placed on the edge of the fairway
- colored markers embedded on the fairway
- distance plates mounted on sprinklers
- fairway markers
- information boards at the tee
- graphics in birdie books
Before using any such information, always check with Local Rules:
- in which units the distances are expressed (yards or meters)
- to which point the distances are measured (front or center of the green)
Distance markers / stakes
In general the stakes are placed on the edge of the fairway. They usually indicate distances of 100, 150 and 200 yards or meters from the green. Sometimes the stakes indicate also 50 or 250 units. Overall there is no universal method or pattern for marking particular distances. In different courses, the distance markers have their own characteristic arrangement of colors, stripes or inscriptions. The marking system, the distance units and the target point are described in the Local Rules. See examples of various yardage stakes shown below.
Distance data on sprinklers
Exact distances to the green are often engraved on plates attached to the sprinkler heads on the fairway. Naturally the distance units and the target points are the same as for the distance stakes. See an example of such plate shown below.
Fairway markers are originally used to indicate the direction of play in cases where the player cannot see the landing zone on the fairway or the green. Additionally, they may (but also may not) indicate the distance to the green. If fairway markers indicate distances, in most cases they are placed 100, 150 or 200 yards/meters from the green. This information is always included in the Local Rules.
The tee signs usually only give general information about the shape and the total length of the hole. However, some courses provide more detailed information and also show other distances. See examples of different solutions in the photos below.
Most golf courses issue their birdie books. These are available in print and / or on the course’s web page and contain the most accurate information on all distances on all holes. See below an example of a birdie book printed by the Alhaurin Golf in Spain which shows the shape, distances and other details of the hole.
update: November 2021