George F. Grant (September 15, 1846 – August 21, 1910)
George, son of former slaves, was born in Oswego, NY in 1846. As a 15 year old, he began mentoring under dentist Dr. Albert Smith. In 1867 at age 21, he was accepted into the Harvard Dental School becoming the 2nd African American by one year to earn a degree in dentistry.
Following graduation, he was made Harvard’s 1st African American faculty and focused his teachings as a professor of dental prosthetics and operative procedures, a position that he held for 19 years. During his time at Harvard, he became an expert in assisting patients with cleft palate. He invented the device “the oblate palate” which assists patients who suffer from the abnormality in swallowing.
In his spare time he grew a passion for golf. He noticed golfers would tee golf balls off a mound of sand which often resulted in erratic drives. He combined a short wooden spike with a flexible rubber peg for the golf ball to sit on. He then shared his invention with his friends, patented his idea, and is credited for the invention of the golf tee.
It is a myth that Grant’s original desire was to reduce the amount of cursing on the golf course with the invention of the tee. Visit any golf course today, and one will quickly find this to be untrue. But hey it’s a gentleman’s sport. So as long as the words are said with a sophisticated accent, it seems to be ok.