The Etiquetteist: What is the appropriate quantity of complimentary tees to grab?

Whoa, easy there!

Alan Bastable

Chris R. from New Jersey writes:

At a course that offers complimentary tees, how many am I allowed to take? Two handfuls is tempting but also feels greedy.

Dear Chris,

A golfer thrust into this situation is akin to a trick-or-treater stumbling across a home whose owner has left a basket of Halloween candy on the porch, along with a sign reading: Take just one, please.

Yeah, right.

Freebies are freebies. And just as a toddler dressed as a firefighter can not be expected to limit themselves to a single Snickers Mini, no one is counting on you to demonstrate the self-restraint of a conscientious adult.

Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show some, anyway.

The etiquette rule here is to take not what you want but what you need. And what is that?

That’s more like it. Alan Bastable

According to a GOLF Magazine survey, golfers go through an average of 6.75 wooden tees per 18-hole round. (Plastic tees are another story, and we’ll address those in a future column on “Accessories golfers should be embarrassed to use.”)

Because we’re feeling generous, we’ll round that 6.75 number up to 7, even 8. OK, make it 10, the rough equivalent of a modest handful of tees. So, go ahead. Dig in and grab a bunch. But do that only once. Double-dipping in this instance is as unwelcome as it is as when you’re sharing chips and salsa.

It’s also undignified.

Good news is that violating the one-handful rule doesn’t carry any formal punishment. The worst you’ll likely get is a stink-eye from the starter or a pitying look from a staffer in the pro shop. Nor will your misdeed inflict any serious financial harm; most courses, public and private alike, build greedy behavior into the cost of doing business.

It’s worth noting that some courses don’t just give out tees. They give out monogrammed tees. Special, right? If the property is a bucket-lister, you might be tempted to snag a couple of extras as souvenirs. We’ll allow that. But only a couple. Anything beyond that just isn’t worth it, because what you gain in tees you more than lose in pride.

josh sens

Josh Sens

Golf.com Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.