plastic golf tee and bamboo tee on grass

What Happens When You Lose a Plastic Golf Tee?

Plastic golf tees, also referred to as ‘stepped golf tees’ or ‘castle golf tees’, are golf tees often made from plastic and are most commonly found in the form of a castle tee. Plastic tees are generally similar in shape and length to golf tees manufactured using alternative materials. This helps to ensure that the golfer can strike the ball at the same, consistent height with every shot. They are often found to be available in an assortment of colours, with each colour associating with different heights off the ground. In this article, we will explore what effects on the environment losing a plastic tee has and some more sustainable alternatives for you to try out in your next golf game.

What Happens When You Lose a Plastic Golf Tee?

When a plastic golf tee is broken or lost mid-game, the environment suffers tremendously, largely due to the fact that plastic tees take decades to break down. As plastic tees are non-biodegradable, they inflict irreversible damage to the environment as a result.

Here at The Bigger Ball, we believe that the continuous use of plastic tees is unethical and even major golfing tournaments are being seen to discourage any use of plastic golf tees or those that are harmful to the environment. In busy golf games where there are a larger number of people playing and spectating, it is not uncommon for golfers to move onto the next hole to keep the game moving swiftly, forgetting their plastic golf tees at the last hole. Due to the bright colours of plastic golf tees, a number of these attract birds which then collect these tees and transport them to a completely new, undisclosed location, making it near impossible to find and collect them all.


pink plastic golf tee and pink bamboo golf tee together

What Are The Benefits of Switching From Plastic Tees?

There are a number of benefits to swapping out your plastic golf tees for sustainable ones. The best sustainable golf tees you can get are bamboo tees, as they are flexible, durable, and will cause zero harm to the environment if they are lost. Below are some of the best reasons to swap out your plastic tees for sustainable ones.

Plastic Tees Use an Enormous Carbon Footprint 

The process of making plastic golf tees can be separated into three main segments. First, the raw materials required are prepared, before the shape of the plastic tee is formed. Finally, the golf tee is completed and is then put into packaging. 

Plastics in general are made using raw materials such as natural gas, oil and plants, which are then refined into ethane and propane. Ethane and propane are treated with heat in a process referred to as “cracking”, which transforms them into ethylene and propylene. These materials are then combined to create different polymers.

In order to make the primary raw materials to make plastic tees easier to work with, other materials are added to help with this. For example, fillers are also added to change the properties of plastic. These fillers help to control the flexibility of the plastic whilst also making them lighter. As well as this, they can also help to make the tees less prone to breakages. For decorative purposes, colourants are generally added to the plastic in order to modify the golf tee's appearance. With a high number of chemicals used to manufacture plastic golf tees, it is clear why they use such an enormous carbon footprint and are so damaging to our planet. 

Plastic Tees Bend Easily

Plastic tees are known to bend easily, without completely breaking. This means, after using them for some time, plastic tees become bent out of shape and eventually become unusable. In such instances, on a particularly cold day, you may likely find yourself having difficulty pushing your plastic tee into the ground.

mixed bamboo golf tees

Plastic Tees Are Extremely Bad For The Environment

Quite possibly the biggest issue with plastic tees is that they are simply no good for the environment. As mentioned, plastic tees take an extremely long time to break down and even longer to completely biodegrade. Even once it has broken down, the contents of plastic tees are often extremely toxic and damaging to our ecosystem and the wider environment.

Plastic Tees Cause Damage To Golf Equipment & The Ecosystem

Plastic golf tees can cause enormous damage to a variety of golf course management equipment, particularly mowers, as plastic tees take decades to break down. As well as this, they are easily scattered and their bright colours make them more attractive to wildlife, such as birds, who often pick them up in their mouths and drop them in new surroundings as mentioned, causing further, irreparable damage to our planet. This is why at The Bigger Ball, we print the name of the colour with minimal ink, as opposed to covering the entire tee. We use only sustainable ink so as to avoid causing any damage to our environment or wildlife, making our golf tees even more eco-friendly.

Plastic Tees Can Be Very Expensive

Plastic tees are often expensive and can sometimes cost as much as twice the cost of a sustainable alternative. If plastic tees lasted longer, this could perhaps be understandable (to some degree), but as we have previously mentioned, they are known to bend and start to become too difficult to get into the ground. This is because they lack the versatility of a bamboo golf tee, which is naturally both flexible and sturdy, making them the best tees for golf. Remember, it's not just about the cost of a pack of tees, but the regularity of which you are needing to replace them.

Finally, remember to ensure that the golf course you are playing on allows plastic tees. Some golf courses are beginning to convey more how plastic tees are a problem for their golf course management equipment and the long-term overall health of the environment.