Dentistry and Golf:
An Unlikely Pairing
Franklin Grant 1847-1910
son of former slaves, George Franklin Grant apprenticed with a local dentist for
two years before entering Harvard Dental School in 1868. His appointment to the
Harvard Department of Mechanical Dentistry in 1871 made him the school's first
African American faculty member.
Professor Grant invented the oblate palate,
an innovative prosthetic treatment for cleft palate, and was recognized internationally
for his expertise in dentistry. He was a founding member and president of the
Harvard Odontological Society and elected president of the Harvard Dental Alumni
Association in 1881.
An avid golfer, he maintained a homemade golf course
near his home in Belmont where he regularly golfed with friends, including abolitionist
Alexander Grimke. To tee off, golfers built a pyramid of dirt and rested the ball
on it. This produced unpredictable results as well as dirty hands. In 1899, Grant
designed and patented a wooden peg, the first golf tee. Grant had the tees manufactured
by a local firm and gave them away by the handful. He never publicized his invention
or sought to gain from it. The idea was later adopted and developed by others.
on the Tee: A Good Walk Through the Science of Golf |
by John Zumevchik,
Cleft Lip Palate: From Origin to Treatment by Diego Wyszynaki,