The best tee markers are... I dont know what they are. I thought I knew what they were, until I started reading a discussion on tee markers that unfolded at high speed on the TurfNet Forum.
For years, I favored AITMs, (Angle Iron Tee Markers) short strips of 3 angle iron, due to their low cost and durability. They were easy to paint every year and it was possible to store plenty of replacement AITMs in the event an angry golfer wanted to test their float characteristics or simply see if we could find a blue marker in a green swamp.
I didnt always prefer angle iron. In addition to poor nautical performance, the AITM was hard for the golfer to spot from a distance, due to its low profile, especially with multiple tees and fermented beverages. They were also hard to spot from a speeding turf vehicle, as a cup-changer raced to stay ahead of an unannounced shotgun start. This sometimes resulted in the marker not being changed and because of the large contact patch, an unsightly yellow discoloration would appear, along with an extra days worth of divots.
The AITM also attracted fire ants if left in place for more than one day... and if you mowed tees with a triplex, there was always that one operator too lazy to get off and move the marker. (Just to be fair, I suffered from this problem myself, especially when OSHA forced those seat-mounted ignition killers on mowers that only cranked once per day.) The lazy operator was so skilled in his mind, that he just knew he could move the AITM by nudging it with the reel housing. No, the AITM was not my preference I was driven to it by one particular golfer.
At an Atlanta area country club, we had a mystery golfer that hated what was then, my favorite tee marker, the RBOASTM (round ball on a stick) with some kind of maniacal passion. I liked the RBOASTM because it had no contact patch, was attractive, traditional and could be seen by a drunken golfer. But, mystery golfer, several times a month, especially on weekends, busted one of my fairly expensive markers... and he especially liked to bust the right side blue marker on #8 tee, the farthest point from the club house and the turf care center.
As I began the search for a TM that could withstand persimmon assaults, I yearned, no, I burned for vengeance. So, I turned the matter over to my evil twin Ydnar, whose motto was Vengeance is mine, sayeth Ydnar.
Ydnar purchased a round ball mold from a local craft and hobby shop, a gutter spike from a hardware store and went to work producing a concrete ball that glistened in shiny gloss blue paint. The following Saturday, our club champion failed to finish the front nine.
I originally learned about the AITM from my brother Mike, who was having similar TM problems at Braelinn, a course in Peachtree City. It worked very well for Mike and I was prepared to inject the AITM into the TurfNet Forum discussion, as an alternative to making your own TMs out of wood from the golf course... until the subject of the recent plague of scrap metal theft surfaced. Suddenly, the concept of LSIHCMWTMs (Locally Sourced In-House Custom Made Wooden Tee Markers) made much more sense.