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A fistful of tees: How many freebies is it OK to pick up?

A fistful of tees: How many freebies is it OK to pick up?

Take a handful or fill your boots? What’s the correct etiquette when helping yourself to free tees? Steve Carroll chimes in
 

Greed is good. Gordon Gekko’s entreaty in the iconic film Wall Street was all about dollar bills, but if he’d ever seen some golfers jostling when the starter is handing out free tees he might have come to a different conclusion.

It can be like a scene out of World War Z – pigs in the trough stuff – lest a member of a fourball fails to get their hands on a plastic pitchfork.

We’ve all witnessed the pile-in. You turn up at a well-to-do club, get to the 1st tee and the eyes go wide as the drawer is opened, or the basket comes out, and the complimentary tees, pencils, and ball-markers are revealed.

While your credit card is still aching from the green fee you’ve just shelled out to play the course in the first place, it’s a nice touch – helping to welcome you to the club and giving you a little souvenir to remember your day.

It’s free to you but that service does still come at a cost to the club. I was at a very prestigious course recently and a staff member told me the price of those wooden tees had doubled over the last year.

‘They can afford it,’ you might say, but a couple of top tracks I’ve been to over the past few months have started to rein in the freebies and it’s because some of you want too much of a good thing.

I’ve seen golfers attack those tee baskets like they’ve not eaten in a month, grasping fistfuls of tees, shovelling them into their bags, and then going back for more!

I’ve seen groups leave the area like a warzone, bits of scraps littering the hut, as they grasped the chance to fill their boots on logoed pencils.

And now I’ve seen clubs taking those ‘prizes’ off the table, making golfers ask for them and hoping a bit of careful supervision might prevent the basest instincts from taking over.

But if you are lucky enough to have the luxury of dipping your hands into a basket of free tees, what is the correct etiquette? How should you proceed?

Take one pencil and one pitchfork, if they’re on offer. You’re putting a few numbers on a scorecard, not writing a book. You don’t need any more graphite.

A handful of tees is fine. No one’s going to chastise you for coming away with half a dozen. Wood breaks, particularly if you hit the ball like I do, and it’s fine to have enough to get you through your round.

Pilfer any more than that and you’re taking advantage of some nice hospitality. Start filling tote bags with the things and you should be presented with a bill and asked to pay.

You can have too much of a good thing. Resist the urge, and let’s make sure we can all have something nice when we enjoy a day at a top track.

What do you think? Should it be a free-for-all when it comes to picking up tees, or should you restrict yourself to a handful? Let me know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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