It’s the little things that matter the most sometimes, even in the game of golf. Next time you’re getting ready to attack your ball with your best Callaway driver, take a close look at that tiny little golf tee — without it, the game would be a whole different experience.
Golfers haven’t always had wooden tees to work with, in fact, they’re a relatively recent invention in the history of golf. Before 1889, golfers frequently used piles of sand or dirt to raise their balls up above the ground, but the process was messy and caddies sometimes ruined holes by taking too much sand out of them.
Courses answered the problem of ever-deepening holes by adding sand boxes, but it wasn’t enough for golfers. They began experimenting with the concept of portable tees, and not surprisingly, the first patented golf tee was designed by the Scotsmen William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas. This 1889 invention was little more than a rubber plate with raised prongs, but it kicked off the portable golf tee revolution.
Soon, the first peg tee, dubbed the “Perfectum,” was appearing in advertisements in the most popular British golf journals. It was a rubber and iron pin with rubber teeth at the top to grip the ball securely — others followed shortly thereafter, each with their own minor improvements. The “Victor” replaced those rubber teeth with a rubber cup and the modern shape of tees was born.
Another common tee in use at the time was designed by Dr. George Grant, the first African-American graduate of the Harvard Dental School. His tee was patented in 1899, but it differed little from the Victor in concept. Despite all these new portable tees, though, golfers of the late 1800s and early 1900s by and large continued to use sand tees — they were reliable, they were comfortable and they were traditional.
Then, in the early 1920s, another dentist, Dr. William Lowell, developed and aggressively marketed the “Reddy Tee,” a wooden peg with a funnel-shaped head. They were cheap to make, easy to mass produce and the sales campaign included golf legend Walter Hagen, who introduced these Reddy Tees to professional golfing circuits.
Next time you push your little wooden tee into the ground and get ready to drive your ball to the hole, take a moment to consider how much work it took to develop such a tiny thing. The game of golf changed significantly with the introduction of the wooden tee, making it easier and less messy for golfers everywhere to play their favorite sport.
Whether you’re in the market for a box of tees, some new balls, TaylorMade drivers or Titleist drivers, we’ve got everything you need for a successful long game at 3balls.com. Take a look at our huge selection, we’ll even take your gently used equipment in trade for that fancy new driver you’ve had your eye on.
Photo credit: stevendepolo / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)