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I saw the world's largest golf tee; can't wait for the golf ball

Most of the boasting I hear from golf pals about summer golf exploits and golf trips has to do with faraway locations and grand treks to remote places that shock the system with their beauty and never-to-forget moments.

In my best Charlie Brown inflection: I got a tee.

Okay, let me write it louder: I got the World’s Largest Golf tee! Yea, that’s better!

You read that correct. My brag moment is to write that I saw and touched the World’s Largest Golf Tee. I wasn’t even looking for the World’s Largest Golf Tee, it found me. My wife, Mary, and I were traveling to her high school reunion in the Quad Cities (exact number not to be revealed upon penalty of added house chores) in July, going along I-70 in southern Illinois to first visit longtime friends near St. Louis when the roadside sign just blared out: World’s Largest Golf Tee, next exit.

Six-foot-1 me was no match for 30.5-foot World’s Largest Golf Tee.

Six-foot-1 me was no match for 30.5-foot World’s Largest Golf Tee.

Well, we weren’t in that big of a rush that we couldn’t stop to see the WLGT, so we got off at Casey, Illinois, and, because the WLGT isn’t as tall as a sequoia, we still had to follow the signs. It didn’t take long, though, to realize we were heading toward a golf course, Casey Country Club to be exact, a nine-hole course opened in 1929 that’s not a true country club. It’s open to the public.

As we headed along the course toward the entrance, it had the look of a vintage Florida resort course: narrow, straight fairways, ditch-type creeks that you could hop over, and tiny greens that were flat circles. But as we approached the entrance, there it was, sticking up over the clubhouse: the top of a tee! Man, I thought, it would take Paul Bunyan to break that tee with a driver!

I have to admit, after wondering during the drive if we were going to see some foot-tall wooden peg in a display case, I got a little excited to see what this was all about. We weren’t the only ones. There were a few cars in the parking lot with non-Illinois plates, such as some folks we later chatted with who were traveling from Texas up to Canada and who had been sucked in like we had.

The WLGT is set up in a grassy area with a circular path leading from the clubhouse to the base of it. It really is a golf tee, 30.5 feet tall, and I found out from the shop staff that the tee is built to spec. It’s a golf tee that’s all grown up. By my poor math, that would mean the golf ball would be about 60 feet tall; since tees range quite a lot from short pegs for par 3s to four inches or so for drivers, I’m just guessing this would be a normal-size tee. There are plans to put an 18-foot diameter golf ball on the top but have it open so golfers could tee off on an adjacent hole. I just learned this week that an additional plan is being thought over: to construct a golf club to go alongside the ball. Now we do need Paul Bunyan.

Casey CC constructed the tee with various widths of yellow pine wood, 60 gallons of glue and 120 pounds of screws and it weighs 6,659 pounds.. It took six months to assemble, and the Guinness Book of World Records ceremony took place in January 2013. The tee was set on May 23rd of that year.

I’m no marketing genius, but it was clear the tee was installed to bring golfers, tourism and interest to the course. Visitors are guided to go through the clubhouse to get out to the tee, and like the gift shop at the end of a Disney ride, the walkthough takes you past WLGT souvenirs, along with the snack bar. You know what, that didn’t bother me. I didn’t buy anything. Mary and I took pictures. I grabbed a scorecard, we chatted with some people and left.

As we drove away, the tall tee in the rearview mirror, the thought of a 30-plus foot tee seemed so appropriate. After all, we were just 130 miles east of a 630-foot tall arch that was grounded next to a 2,350-mile long river. It all made real good sense.

Cliff Schrock