Dr. George Franklin Grant (1847-1910), was born in Oswega, New York in 1846, the son of former slaves. As a child, he worked as an errand boy for the local dentist and also helped him in the lab.

George wanted to make life better for himself so he left Oswego and moved to Boston, Massachusetts.

He worked as an apprentice for about two years and then in 1868, entered the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He graduated in 1870 and became the second African-American graduate of the Dental School. He earned a position in the department of Mechanical Dentistry at Harvard in 1871. With this position, he became the first African-American faculty member at Harvard. He was most interested in working with patients with defects in the roofs of their mouths and invented and patented the oblate palate, an insert for people who were born with cleft palates. The device greatly improved their ability to speak and eat.

In his spare time, Dr. Grant enjoyed playing golf and kept a homemade golf course near his home. He often played with his friends. However, George did not like having to pinch the wet dirt with his hands 18 times during a round of golf. He and others would have to pinch the wet sand in the shape of a mound or pyramid. Having to do this was a dirty job, so he designed and patented a wooden pin that could be driven into the ground, thus, the first golf tee. On December 12, 1899, Dr. George Grant, an African-American, was the first American to patent the golf tee, patent number 638,920. He had a few tees manufactured by a local company and gave them to his friends and golfing partners. He did not market his invention or never sought to make money from his wooden pin, but his invention layed the foundation for the golf tees players use today.

George Franklin Grant really hit a hole in one when he was the first American to patent the golf tee.
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