Know Thy Tee: The History of the Golf Tee
The golf tee is one of the most humble equipment in golf. Because though it is small it serves its purpose very well. A tee is used to raise the golf ball above the ground when in the teeing ground since air offers less resistance. Before we have a manufactured tee made up of wood or plastic or rubber that we are using today let us look back to where it all began. Here is a quick glimpse of the history of the golf tee.
Golf tees were originally created by nature. The first tees were just clumps of dirt. It was manually made using either sod or sand on the spot during the actual play once needed. In ancient times in Scotland until 1900s, golfers use their clubs or their shoes to dig up a little mound of grass to set the golf ball then form a sand tees. They take a little wet sand and mold it into a conical shape then place it above the ground. In each tee box there is a sand box, where they get the sand and water to wet their hands for molding provided by the golf course. Sometimes the sand in the tee box was already wet and easily shaped. Because making sand tees takes a little time away from the golfer’s pace and is messy, golf tee patents were made.
The first golf tee patent was made by William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas from Scotland. The British Patent No. 12,941 issued in 1889 was designed with a flat, wedge-shaped base, with several prongs at the narrow end of the base where you can set up the tee. It is not pressed into the ground but rather just sat on top of it. The first tee that was designed to be pierced into the ground was made by Percy Ellis in England. It was called the “Perfectum” and was made like a nail with a rubber ring on its head.
In 1899, George Franklin Grant submitted his patent for a more improved version of the golf tee. His US Patent No. 638,920 was a wooden peg with a flat top that was pushed through the ground. His design was never manufactured and marketed so it was easily forgotten.
Reddy Tee was invented by Dr. Williams Lowell Sr. with US Patent No. 1,670,627. Unlike Dr. Grant’s long forgotten tee design, Grant’s was manufactured and mass-produced by on the most renowned sports equipment manufacturer worldwide, the Spalding Company and heavily marketed by Walter Hagen in 1922. It was made of plastic with a flared end and concaved platforms to hold the golf ball in place and was green and wood at first. Later on it was changed to red hence the name “Reddy Tee”.
Today’s tee are the same look and purpose as the Reddy Tee. Modern tees have bristles, tines or prongs to support the ball. They also have depth indicators on the shaft to know how high to tee up the ball.
The innovation of the tees is generally made to make a clean contact with the ball and also to help players determine the line of play. Truly, a small piece can make a big difference in your shot.