What's in a golf tee? Nowadays, more than you would know

May 09, 2012

The number of tee vendors at the PGA Merchandise Show earlier this year -- by some counts more than 20 -- was astonishing, considering the traditional wood tees we've all used since we started playing seem perfectly suited for the task for which they were designed.


Yet companies are attempting to innovate, including the highly-regarded spike manufacturer, CHAMP/MacNeill Engineering Worldwide. The company put out a news release this week that the winner of the Wells Fargo Championship used its Zarma FLYTee -- in blaze orange.

The tees are made of biodegradable materials with a six-prong head and a shallow cup to reduce friction, theoretically allowing the ball to come off the tee faster. It makes sense, though to what degree it makes a difference is anyone's guess. Probably not as much as the subhead on the news release suggests: "Blaze Orange Model Propels Young Star to First PGA Tour Victory."

The young star, of course, is Rickie Fowler (hence the blaze orange), though the company can't use his name, for that would imply an endorsement. That said, Fowler using without remuneration is better than a paid endorsement.

Even disregarding the performance benefits, an environmentally-friendlier tee is a good thing, no? The Zarma tees feature "a bio-agent additive...[that] enables microorganisms to metabolize the plastic into humus, an organic matter which benefits the environment," the company claims. The tees are said to be considerably more durable than wood tees, which results in fewer broken tees littering tee boxes. Also a good thing.

CHAMP, incidentally, has recently introduced the MyHite FLYTee that feature colored bands on them to help the user consistently tee the ball at the same height. That makes sense, too.

-- John Strege