The perfect tees for winter golf? I think I may have found them

western birch tees

The color scheme of Western Birch tees brings to mind an Ivy League oar.

michael bamberger

If you’re looking for a single product to make your winter golf even more fun, you’ve come to the right place. Today we turn our attention to an indispensable golf goody that is one of the game’s most modest pieces of equipment. So let’s get started in the very place where rounds begin, the 1st tee!

Have you ever, especially as a winter golfer, experienced the frustration of trying to get weak-stemmed, needlessly long plastic tees through terra firma that is often hard and sometimes frozen? Making things more annoying yet, plastic tees will sometimes fail to retain their point after a single round, even in soft, late-spring playing conditions. But the modern plastic tee for winter play is far worse.

The firmness of winter turf can flatten the pointed ended of a plastic tee after just a few holes, as if it were a carpet tack getting hammered into cinderblock. Also, plastic tees tend to bend. Do you know anybody who wants to play a demanding tee shot, or any tee shot, off a bent tee? Not too likely.

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And a quick aside and a resolution, as we start this new and promising year: Let’s all try to be sensitive to those newly arrived to the game. As it relates to today’s theme, let’s keep in mind that tee is one of golf’s most confounding words. When using its various variants in the company of new golfers, you might consider going long, in the interest of clarity. Teeing ground. Tee marker. Tee time. You can then reserve plain old tee for the peg itself, be it wood, plastic (if it must) or otherwise.

Rereading to this point, I do realize that this stick of words is hard on the plastic tee. It would be only fair and right to point out that some golfing environmentalists have made the counterintuitive case that plastic tees are better for the environment than wooden ones. How many trees are felled each year to satisfy our tee consumption?

But, then, it’s hard to argue with the logic of the Royal North Devon Golf Club in England. The club, at the start of last year, issued this statement: “The simple fact is that plastic tees are more likely to harm the birds and animals we share our wonderful course with. From the start of the new decade we would like all golfers to only use wooden tees and the pro shop will only supply wooden tees.”

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And it’s hard to argue with aesthetics.     

Which gets us to today’s big wooden-tee reveal:

The best tees I know for winter golf — nay, for any golf — are made by a company called Western Birch Golf, manufacturers of hardwood golf tees. I have been finding them here and there for a year now, drawn to them by their distinctive color and shape. They are hard to lose, because of their colorful mid-stem paint jobs, and hard to break, because of the quality of their wood.

Regarding longevity, giving a tee, any brand of tee, a little wiggle after inserting it will extend its life. I also find that, inspired by Dustin Johnson and his driving greatness, that I am teeing the ball lower now, thereby striking the ball higher on the face. As a result, I am breaking fewer tees, again, regardless of brand. But the king of the indestructible wooden golf tee, in my experience, is the Western Birch golf tee discussed here today.

On Thursday, my first purchased batch of WB tees arrived. I ordered 200. I’ll be going through them quickly only because I will be gifting them to my winter-playing friends.

On the company website, you’ll see dozens of different color combinations, and I found myself drawn to a model called The Northwood, a darkly stained tee with white, green and maroon stripes. A box of 50 2.75-inch tees sells for $6.99. (The company also sells 3.25-inch tees for $7.99, but why anybody would want such a long tee, after watching Dustin Johnson, is hard to imagine.) The color scheme of my new tees brings to mind an Ivy League oar, circa 1926.

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Western Birch Golf Tees

$6.99
These premium birch hardwood golf tees are designed to be durable and traditional in appearance.
buy now

I have never known a tee that ends in a sharper point than the points on these Western Birch tees. They would go right through the teeing grounds at Triggs Memorial even in the dog days of summer, if you know what that legendary Rhode Island muni is like by Labor Day. The stem (its shank or shaft, if you will) on the Western Birch tee is slender and beautifully proportioned.

But the true pièce de résistance of the Western Birch tee is its head, with a perfect level of cuppiness. Not too shallow, not too deep. Just right. You’ll be able to get that ball to stay put on your first try, even if you’re playing while wearing two winter gloves.

The Western Birchers don’t sell golf gloves. They don’t sell scrubbing brushes to keep your clubs clean mid-round. They don’t sell golfer’s crying towels. They sell good golf tees, and that is enough. Yes, they’re expensive, at 14 cents per. Many private clubs and resorts still offer free tees. But by golly you’re worth it!
 
Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at Michael_Bamberger@Golf.com.

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Michael Bamberger

Golf.com

Michael Bamberger writes for GOLF Magazine and contributes to GOLF.com. He also participates in podcasts, primarily in tandem with Alan Shipnuck. Earlier in his career, he was a senior writer for Sports Illustrated for 23 years and a reporter on The Philadelphia Inquirer for nine years before that. He has written a half-dozen books about golf and other subjects. His magazine work has been featured in multiple editions of The Best American Sports Writing. He holds a U.S. patent on a utility golf club called the E-Club. In 2016, he was given the Donald Ross Award by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the organization’s highest honor.