Golf Tee History
Before the golf tee was invented, players had to get creative if they wanted to elevate their golf ball on their opening shot. This was first accomplished by kicking up a bit of turf and placing the ball atop the dirt clod. Later, as courses became more refined, golfers constructed tiny sandhills on which to place the tee ball. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that golf tees were designed as we know them today.
Who Invented the Golf Tee?
Through the golf tee evolution, there have been many inventors who contributed their take on the golf tee. It wasn’t until several renditions released that we reached the golf tee design we know today.
It wasn’t until 1889 in Great Britain that the first patent for “An Improved Golf Tee or Rest” was invented. This version, made by William Bloxson and Arthur Douglas, resembled the modern football tee that sits on the ground.
Three years later, England’s Percy Ellis designed a golf tee that actually penetrated the turf in 1892. However, it was little more than a nail with a rubber ring attached to the head.
In the United States, the wooden golf tee arrived in 1899 courtesy of George Franklin Grant. Grant was a Boston dentist and the first African-American professor at Harvard who, as a golfer, was looking for a way to eliminate the “annoyance and sometimes discomfort attendant upon the formation of a sand tee.” The result was U.S. patent No. 638,920 for the “peg tee.” Grant, however, neither marketed nor produced the invention.
The result of these early manufactured golf tees was that sand tees remained the norm on golf courses well into the 1920s. In 1925, William Lowell patented a golf tee design that seemed to augment the climax of golf tee evolution. Lowell’s tee featured a small concave cup at the end of the flared tee to easily position the ball.
Unlike previous tee inventors, Lowell also set out to make money with his golf tee. He painted them red and marketed them as “The Reddy Tee.” He signed up professional star Walter Hagen to use the tee during his exhibition tours. The Reddy Tee indeed caught on and is essentially the tee still in use today.
Golf Tees Today
Though the standard golf tee has been created, golf tee inventors have scarcely given up the quest for perfecting the tool. The arrival of plastic resulted in a vast array of devices that golfers could use to raise the ball off the ground. All, including natural elevators such as sand and dirt, are legal for play as long as the tee is:
1) No longer than 4 inches
2) Not designed to indicate the line of play
3) And not influencing the movement of the ball or otherwise aiding the golf stroke
Golf Tee Design: Colors, Personalization & More
Although golf tees are available in a rainbow of colors, the white tee has come to represent the standard golf accessory. Touring professionals use white wooden golf tees almost exclusively. The white tee is also ideal for personalization with up to 23 characters available for customized messages at Golfballs.com.
The larger head drivers now in vogue have created a marketing niche for tee manufacturers. Martini Tees are 3 1/4-inch tall, a half-inch longer than standard tees. Crafted from a proprietary polymer resin blend, the vividly colored Martini Tees will not break and are easy to spot around the teeing ground after a drive.