A Man, An Inventor, A Teacher, A Dentist

This is a story about a dentist who went beyond the scope of practice

This is not a story about golf. This is a story about the plain old concept of convenience. It is about a man who has had enough of squatting and sculpting. It is about a man who has had enough of moist soil. It is about a man who thought to himself that there had to be a better way. It is about a man who happened to be a dentist. It is about Dr. George Franklin Grant.

Imagine you have finished with your patient at five. It may have been a root canal treatment, a filling or extraction, or plain old treatment planning. You are fired up to go off to the golf course and have a round with some of your buddies. So, you do what any person would do. You scurry out of that dental office and rush to the golf course-like Royal Golf Club for example. You change into appropriate attire. You conjure some small banter with your black golf buddies (who are quite a few, to be honest, this is the late 1800s or early 1900s and you are black, so go figure). There would be a scintilla of white buddies, mostly colleagues who share in the old adage that 'all dentistry and no play...' Now comes the part where you have to tee off. So what do you do? I will tell you what they did. They grabbed a mound of moist soil or added a little bit of water to make it moist. Then they went ahead to fabricate a mound adequate to place a golf ball at its apex. Then they would tee off as it were. It is not as if this would be a successful endeavour since the ball was notorious for slipping out of this mound. And what about those soil remnants still on the hands? How do you wipe them off? You do need a firm stable grip on the golf club you know.

Imagine you are Dr. Grant and every day you are forced to do this barbaric act. Not once, but multiple times. Eighteen times a round in fact. It is not enough that you have been mixing things like amalgam, agar, alginate, and acrylic at the clinic. Shoot that! Dr. Grant had had enough of that madness. So he put that brilliant mind to work and came up with the Golf Tee.

Patent number 638,920-the first patent for a Golf Tee. It described a contraption with a rigid base portion and an attached flexible head. The base was made of wood and tapering to a point, enabling its insertion in the ground. It had a gutta-percha crown (how about that!) with an annular seat on which the ball could be cupped.

Patent Application Golf Tee

And voila! The game was changed forever. The only squatting was for sticking that tee into the ground. Now golfers would golf instead of being sculptors too.

Now, that in itself is an accomplishment that stands the ravaging tides of time. He also happened to be the first black Professor at Harvard at the Harvard School of Dentistry. Did you know that he also made some of the first obturators for Cleft Palate patients? He also became president of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association. Would you not be proud of Dr. George Franklyn Grant?

Of course, you would be.

So, let us meet on 28th April at the Royal Golf Club at Upperhill for the KDA Charity Golf Tournament. As we tee off let us remember that we have never been just dentists. We are game changers too.

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