History of Golf
It is not known exactly where golf originated. The most common theory linking its origin with medieval Scotland. However, there is information that in the XIII century, the Dutch, using the likeness of a club and a leather ball, played a game similar to a golf game. At different times in different countries of continental Europe there were references to games related to golf in its modern sense. Chinese scholars reported that a similar game was common in China during the Tang Dynasty.
The homeland of classical golf is considered the Scottish town of St. Andrews, named for the patron saint of the city, St. Andrew, whose tomb is in the same place.
A representative of the Old Royal Golf Club Andrews stated that “for many centuries there have been stick and ball games, but golf, as it is now, with 18 holes, was definitely born in Scotland.”
The legend about how an ordinary shepherd, wandering along the coastal dunes, accidentally hit a round stone with a stick and rolled it into a rabbit hole, is connected with the origin of golf. Then he was joined by friends who liked the new fun. Later the stones were replaced with gutta-percha balls, rabbit holes – with holes, and clubs were used instead of sticks.
There is an opinion in the golf community that the word “golf” comes from adding the letters of the first words of the statement “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden”, but this etymology is usually considered comic.
Historically, the word “golf” was first mentioned in writing in the Scottish statute of 1457 as “gouf”, possibly derived from the Scottish “goulf”, meaning “beat.” This word can be derived from the Danish “kolf”. But there are earlier references to this name: in 1452, Jacob II banned the game for which nobles and ordinary soldiers spent so valuable time allotted initially for training in archery and other martial arts.
It was in Scotland that the first rules of the game of golf were recorded, and the first tournaments were held between Scottish cities. Soon, the game of golf spread throughout England, and then around the world. The oldest golf course is Old Links at the Masselburg Racecourse. There is evidence that they played on the Masselburg field in 1672, although it is believed that Mary Stuart played there in 1567.
The title of the oldest golf club is disputed by each other “Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers”, and “Society of St Andrews Golfers”; when King William IV took custody of society in 1834, the name changed to Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews ”(Old Royal Golf Club St. Andrews).
In the 20th century, golf even reached the moon! Alan Shepard, captain of the Apollo 14 spacecraft, in February 1971, made two hits on two balls. In 1974, the club Alan used while playing in space was donated to the museum.
Golf courses did not always have 18 holes. For example, St. Andrews Links occupied a narrow strip of land along the coast. The location of the eleven holes at that time was due to the topography. Playing all the holes in one end of the field, and then turning around and playing them in the opposite direction, the player went through twenty-two holes. Later, part of the holes was combined, and the total number was reduced to nine, which gave eighteen final holes.
The development of golf is inextricably linked with the development of gaming equipment. The most significant changes affected the golf ball: it took various forms until 1930, until the US Golf Association set standards for weight and size. Their essence boiled down to the fact that the initial speed of the ball should not exceed two hundred and fifty feet per second.
Sticks also underwent noticeable changes over time. The first clubs were made of wood. Over the years, hickory has become the standard material for the handle, and Virginia persimmon – for the stick of the club – due to its strength. With the advent of durable gutta-percha balls in 1850, metal clubs also appeared. Steel clubs appeared in the late 1890s, but they were not approved by the authorities for a long time. In the early 1970s, graphite was used for handles. The first “wood” metal club was developed in the early 1980s, and soon the metal completely replaced wood.
Thanks to the inclusion of golf in the Olympic program since 2016, the number of its fans has been increasing every year.