Specializing in Fine Antique Golf Clubs and Historic Memorabilia

Lot # 5: Douglas (Sand) Tee Gun & 90 Different Mostly Plastic Vintage Tees

Category: Tees

Starting Bid: $500.00

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In his book "The Singular History of the Golf Tee," Irv Valenta talks about the advent and evolution of plastic tees. 

"In the early thirties, the recently invented material, plastic, began to be applied to the production of golf tees." [The first plastic tees were made in two parts—head and stem—that were then joined together to form a tee.  Problem was the force of the swing would often knock the head off of the tee.] "Thus after a honeymoon of a few years, these tees were categorized only as collectors items....

"Advancements in plastics extrusion technology and the development of new plastic materials were rapidly applied to tee production.  Tees came to be made in one piece, employing a 'feed hole' in the center of the head. Hard, paper thin plastic tees, pretty in their color proved to be an abberation.  One swing and tee-no-more.  Soft plastics, on the other hand, were too difficult to get into hard soils.  Solid core heads, without a feed hole, developed in the 1950s.  These tees became rugged enough to withstand the blows of the wooden club faces. Trouble was they were too rugged.  They injured the face of the drivers.

"After the demand for plastic tees tapered off, because, mainly of the injury to the club face, it appeared that the use of plastic for golf tees might wane. There was, however, another factor. The newest plastics could be molded into any and all shapes. They added flair and color to the game. 

"With the advent of metal headed drivers, tees of plastic came back into favor.  They were colorful, shapely, ingenious in design, and really not in competition with the accepted wooden tee, but a friendly ally, bringing enjoyment and enthusiasm to golf."

All but 8 of the tees in this case (included with this lot) are plastic. Most date between the 1930s and 1950s. As I go through the images that accompany this lot, I will reference only some of the tees shown full length in each respective image, although they are all great! You do not see such a diverse tee collection every day. Now on to some of the tees in the cases:

In the 3rd image, the yellow fixed-height tee (with the wide equator half way up) is one of the few in the case made from wood.  These tees would provide the golfer with a uniform height when they teed up their ball.   The blue tee is the only one here made from solid glass. It would sparkle in the sunlight, which is what the maker was probably hoping would cause golfers to forget about any durability issues and buy the tee. The peanut tee is also a fixed height tee. 

In the 4th image, which includes a Senior PGA Tour cigarette lighter, the short black and white wood tee is actually a score-keeping pencil as well.  The gold tee with pearl golf ball (not real) is made to hang on a necklace.  The unique short white tee at the top right is also wood.  The white plastic tee directly below it is designed to sit flush on the ground when holding up the ball.

In the 5th image, the white tee with the tall, wide "side" was designed to take any side spin off the ball, to reduce hooking and slicing. The short silver-colored carrot tee next to it is actually a solid metal tee made in 1980 for one of the earliest GCS meetings.

In the 6th image, the upside-down plastic “measuring cup” tee was given out by the Milwaukee Sentinal at a junior tournament.  It is designed to sit on the ground, positioned as it is here, and the ball is placed in an indentation on the top as shown. 

In the 7th image, the long tee is actually a ballpoint pen made as a promotional item and not for use. Note the neat little rocket tee up above the pen tee.  Directly under the pen tee is a spinner tee.  The tee was stuck into the ground and the ball placed on the end of the long wire arm.  Contact with the ball sent the wire spinning rapidly around the tee, but the golfer did not have to go looking for it after striking the ball.  Similar spinner tees were tried at various times roughly from the 1920s through the 1970s.  Not many were made, as they were never popular.  Every few, five, or ten years, however, somebody would try to make one the would catch on. The variety of tees surrounding the white "Titleist" golf ball poker-type chip are all plastic with the exception of the darker red fixed-height wood tee that is a companion for the yellow one described earlier. As near as I can tell, the orange bendable "Exel Line" tee directly under the Titleist ball chip possibly works in conjunction with another tee as an alignment aid of some kind. At least that is my guess.

Right in the middle of the 8th images is a Douglass sand tee mold, designed to be packed full of wet sand and then, when the golfer pushed down on the spring-loaded plunger, place the sand on the ground ready and able to hold up a golf ball.  It is marked with the Douglas name on its top and is in outstanding condition.  In years past, this mold alone has sold for more than the starting price of this collection. Sand tee molds are among the most desirable of golf tees.  The shapely red tee to the left of the top of the plunger is wood.  There is also an empty Walter Hagen Tee box.

in the 9th picture, directly under the Walter Hagen tee box, is a highly unusual oversize tee. Judging from its industrial size and exceptional length, I suspect this screwed into the ground under a golf mat and worked the range day and night. 

The white tee inside the tee holder in the 10th picture was made so the golfer could insert the tee to a uniform height every time.  The red tee with the disc around the middle of the stem was also devised to provide the golfer with a consistent uniform height.  The unusued yellow tee, with the indentations along its stem and a circular gear-nut-looking piece still attached to its tip, was designed to allow the golfer choose the exact uniform height of their liking. Just break off the gear-nut piece and slide it onto the tee to the desired level. 

The 11th image shows a golfer cigarette lighter. The threaded white tee appears designed to have a corresponding nut that has been lost somewhere along the way. The white tee with the clip on its side could work on its own or connect to another tee to make it taller.

The 12th image has a white circular rubber tee that sits flat on the ground and a long white angle tee, designed to tee up the ball while sticking into the ground at a 45 degree angle.  There is also a mink coat ladies tee, a dark red transluscent tee, a white 4-sided tee that once had a tethering cord attached, and a red pointed anchor tee.

This lot provides a great opportunity to acquire a historic, interesting, and visual tee collection. The solid wood, locking display case is included with this lot.

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