1899 [probably should be 1889]
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A tee is a stand used to support a stationary ball so that the player can strike it, particularly in golf, tee ball, American football, and rugby.
The word tee is derived from the Scottish Gaelic word taigh meaning house and is related to the 'house' (the coloured circles) in curling. This would make sense, as the first golf tees were within a circle of one golf club length round the hole. Nowadays, modern courses have separate, designated tee boxes for each hole. For example, the ninth hole of a course is played from the ninth tee to the ninth green, and similarly for the other holes.
In golf, a tee is normally used for the first stroke of each hole. The area from which this first stroke is hit is in the rules known as the teeing ground. Normally, teeing the ball is allowed only on the first shot of a hole, called the tee shot, and is illegal for any other shot; however, local or seasonal rules may allow or require teeing for other shots as well, e.g., under "winter rules" to protect the turf when it is unusually vulnerable. Teeing gives a considerable advantage for drive shots, so it is normally done whenever allowed. However, a player may elect to play his/her tee shot without a tee. This typically gives the shot a lower trajectory.
A standard golf tee is 2.125" (two and one eighth inches = 5.4 cm) long, but both longer and shorter tees are permitted. Ordinary tees can be made from wood or from durable plastic. There are also many biodegradable, ecological and recycable golf tees that diminish the number of trees cut down to manufacture the tees and allow golf courses to lower costs by not having to deal with the broken wooden tees on their courses.
According to the R&A rule book, for a tee to be legal, "It must not be longer than 4 inches (101.6 mm) and it must not be designed or manufactured in such a way that it could indicate the line of play or influence the movement of the ball."
The development of the tee was the last major change to the rules of golf. Before this, golf balls were teed up on little heaps of sand that were provided in boxes. This explains the historical name tee boxes for what is today known as teeing ground.
The earliest golf tees rested flat on the ground and had a raised portion to prop up the ball. The first patent for this kind of tee is dated 1889, and was issued to Scotsmen William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas. The first known tee to pierce the ground was a rubber-topped peg sold commercially as the "Perfectum." This was patented in 1892 by Percy Ellis of England. In 1899, an African-American dentist, Dr. George Franklin Grant, obtained a patent for an "improved golf tee". This tee consisted of a wood cone with a rubber sleeve to support the ball, but it is not known to have ever been marketed.