From the archives:
Arguably golf’s interesting origin began five centuries ago. It is a historical fact that
due to the interference of golf with much more serious combat drills James II of Scotland
banned golf in an act of Parliament on March 6 in the year 1457. There is general agreement
among historians and golf fans alike that the Scots were the first golfers who became
somewhat addicted to the sport. However the persons responsible for the invention of golf is
open to debate. And debate will ensue if you breech the subject with the right persons.
It has been suggested that bored sheepherders became quite exceptional at knocking round
shaped stones into rabbit holes with their wooden shepherds staffs. Making a competitive
game of the boredom seemed inevitable. After all women’s lib was not yet even considered
so that means the shepherds were men. Lets face another fact of history, men tend to be more
of a competitive nature. Various forms of golf were played as early as the fourteenth century.
These games were played in Holland, Belgium, France as well as in Scotland, thus the debate
of golf’s origin is rightly fueled.
There is another historical fact that Scottish Baron, James VI, was the man who delivered the
game we know today as golf to the English. For many years the game was played on severely
rugged terrain, where no proper upkeep was required. In most accounts golf was played with
crudely cut holes in the ground where the earth was reasonably flat.
It was a group of Edinburgh golfers who first formed an organized club. In 1744 the
Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers was established. At this time in history the first
thirteen laws of golf were drawn up for an annual competition. This first competition
consisted of players from any part of Great Britain or Ireland.
One of the earliest golf clubs that were formed outside golf’s debatable native home of
Scotland was the Royal Blackheath Golf Club of England. Blackheath came into existence in
1766 and the Old Manchester Golf Club was founded on the Kersal Moor in 1818.
By the late 1800’s the Royal Montreal Club and the Quebec Golf Club were to become the
first in North America. It wasn’t until 1888 that golf resurfaced in the United States with
more fervor than each prior surfacing. Even then it was a Scotsman, John Reid, who first
built a three-hole course in Yonkers New York. St. Andrews Club of Yonkers was built in a
thirty-acre site near to the original three-hole course.
From the hesitant and fitful start golf grew rapidly as the new national pastime in America.
Modern for its time the golf club, Shinnecock Hills was founded in 1891 and in the nine years
left in that century more than one thousand prestigious golf clubs opened in North America.
The historical value of golf is as interesting as any part of our heritage. Following the path
that golf took to get from a shepherds field to the amazing golf courses that dot our culture
today it is no wonder golf remains a popular pastime in all parts of the world.