In golf, a tee is normally used for the first stroke of each hole, and the area from which this first stroke is hit is informally also known as a tee (officially, teeing ground). The word tee is derived from the Scottish Gaelic word 'tigh' meaning house and is related to the house' in curling (the coloured circles). Of course, as the first golf tees were within a 'circle' of one club length round the hole, this would make sense. Thus, for example the ninth hole of a course is played from the ninth tee to the ninth green, and similarly for the other holes. Normally, teeing the ball is allowed only on the first shot of a hole, called the tee shot, and illegal for any other shot; however, local or seasonal rules may allow or require teeing for other shots as well, e.g., under "winter rules" to protect the turf when it is unusually vulnerable. Teeing gives a considerable advantage for drive shots, so it is normally done whenever allowed. On short par 3 holes where the first shot is a chip, the tee shot may be played without a tee.
A standard golf tee is 2.125" (two and one eighth inches) long, but both longer and shorter tees are permitted and are preferred by some players.
The development of the tee was the last major change to the rules of golf. Before this, golf balls were teed up on little heaps of sand that was provided in boxes. This explains the historical name tee boxes for what is today known as teeing ground.
The earliest golf tees rested flat on the ground and had a raised portion to prop up the ball. The first patent for this kind of tee is dated 1889, and was issued to Scotsmen William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas. The first known tee to pierce the ground was a rubber-topped peg sold commercially as the "Perfectum." This was patented in 1892 by Percy Ellis of England
These and other variations failed to catch on, as most golfers—whether because of tradition, habit, or concerns about the rules—continued using heaps of sand. It took a strong marketing effort by Dr. William Lowell in the 1920s to bring manufactured tees into widespread use. Sales of his "Reddy Tee," a simple wooden peg with a flared top, took off after Lowell hired professional golfers Walter Hagen and Joe Kirkwood, Sr. to promote the product during exhibition matches. It was copied around the world, and remains the most common type of golf tee.