What could be more relevant to Black History month than a famous Black Dentist? And what could be more relevant to dentists than golf. Enter George Franklin Grant, the Harvard trained African American dentist who invented the modern wooden golf tee. Previously, there had been other objects and methods for teeing up a golf ball, but it took Grant to patent the forerunner of the modern golf tee.
Born in Oswego, New York in 1847, he entered Harvard’s School of Dental Medicine in 1868 and graduated in 1870. He was one of the first two graduates of Harvard University’s dental program .He later became Harvard’s first African American professor . He was a dedicated dentist, and patented a prosthetic device for cleft palate that was internationally recognized. He was also involved in dental organizations, as a founding member Harvard’s Odontological Society, and as president of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association.
We don’t really know if Grant was an avid golfer. Golf was not nearly as popular, or egalitarian back at the turn of the last century. But then Grant was not one to be held back Grant’s patent, issued on December 12, 1899 for an improved golf tee was a vast improvement over the mounds of sand previously used. If you have ever hit a ball in sand , you know how messy that can be, not mention if the wind is kicking up. So we offer our gratitude and humbly honor the man who helped modernize golf. I just wonder though, were golfers better at getting out of sand traps prior to his invention?