When it comes to progress, nothing in the golfers arsenal is safe from being improved, redesigned, re-invented, overhauled, tweaked or fine-tuned in the name of more yards, better control and fewer strokes. From the hat on your head to the spikes under your shoes, its all fair game when it’s in the name of lower scores.
That includes the contents of your pockets.
The humble tee, the lowly ball marker, the utilitarian green repair tool: for some, theyre all one and the same. That curvacious, ubiquitous peg also serves occasionally as a groove cleaner, a referee that selects the first-tee batting order and even a handy ear-canal itch reliever – truly a revolutionary bit of equipment thats come a long way since the days when a pinch of sand was considered sufficient elevation.
These days, of course, one sees ball markers with notches to help with alignment and magnets to keep them safely affixed to the bill of ones cap; polished-steel divot forks with bulging fulcrum points and alligator-hide belt-clip holsters; and tees so loaded with science that theyve logged more wind-tunnel time than Michael Schumacher.
Case in point: the Epoch tee, from the also-aptly named North Carolina manufacturer Evolve Golf, boasts a sexy-as-hell, Internet-age design that the company says can add yards to a players tee shots and improve accuracy by reducing spin.
First, something Evolve Golf wants you to know: Jason Bohn just won the Zurich Classic using the Epoch tee. Lee Janzen and Boo Weekley finished fourth and 10th, respectively, using the same tee peg.
Jason was able to lead the tournament from wire-to-wire by setting up scoring opportunities with phenomenal play off the tee, where he ranked tied for second in the driving accuracy category, Evolve Golf founder and CEO B.J. Maloy said in a statement this week.
He is one of many players around the world that has discovered the effortless gains in performance that come from switching to the Epoch tee.
Did it truly make any difference? Quite possibly. Of course, the sensible reader keeps in mind one obvious caveat emptor: seven other guys also finished in the top 10, presumably using other tees.
According to the companys own research, a 107-mph swing at a ball on an Epoch tee results in an increase in ball speed of four miles per hour, nine yards of additional distance and 623 rpm less of ball spin.
Skeptical? Well, before you go harrumphing off in all directions, consider the science behind this particular claim. Firstly, Evolve very rightly makes the point that while clubs and balls have grown so sophisticated over the years that theyve practically re-invented the game, no one until recently had bothered to think past the most basic method of elevating the ball to strike it with a driver.
As any drunken lout whos ever hit a ball off a golf pencil can tell you, the less interference there is between the surface of a golf ball and its temporary pedestal, the farther its likely to go. Thats essentially the philosophy behind modern tees like the Epoch: instead of a cupped surface in which the ball sits, the top of the Epoch is divided into posts that elevate the ball off the cupped part of the tee. With each post measuring slightly more than the width of a golf balls dimple, less of the tees surface area interferes with the surface of the ball, which means theres less to get between you and all that distance. Specifically, Epoch claims the lowest coefficient of friction of any tee on the market.
The Epoch is also credited with 126 professional golf wins since making its debut in 2004, including 46 wins on the PGA Tour and 33 on the LPGA Tour.
As far as multi-pronged tee designs go, the Epoch is pretty tame by comparison to some of the other more drastic designs – the Zero Friction tee, for instance, props the ball up on three thin, fang-like teeth so theres very little tee-ball contact (hence the name). Excel Golf, the maker of the ZF, claims four yards of additional distance and five yards of accuracy with a 100-mph swing. High-profile players include Kenny Perry, Dean Wilson and Vicky Hurst.
The ZF, which comes in an array of colours, claims more than 50 wins on the PGA Tour since 2005 and more than 300 top-10 finishes.
The ZF tee, however, is like one of those dirt-track sprint cars with the massive billboard-sized wings on the roof: effective under controlled, specific circumstances, maybe, but not overly practical (just getting a ball to stay put atop a Zero Friction tee can be an exercise in frustration, and the skinny design means it tends to bend on firmer tee boxes). The Epoch, by comparison, is like a more modest rear spoiler on a high-performance sedan. Less drastic, less showy, but a damn sight more sensible.
Then again, when were talking about tees that, on average, cost about 26 cents each ($9 for a package of 35 ZF tees, or $4 for a pack of 15 Epoch pegs, five of which are shorter and designed for hybrids or irons), sensible probably has very little to do with it.
But sometimes the difference in golf boils down to what makes a player swing with confidence; if a pointy bit of plastic is enough to make that difference, then its worth whatever youre willing to pay for it.