The History of Golf – A Mystery Unsolved?

Historians agree that the Scots were the first golfers to become addicted to the sport. After all, King James II of Scotland banned golf in an act of Parliament on March 6, 1457, because it was interfering with combat drills. So we know that the Scots were a bit fanatical about their golf, but did they invent the great game? That question is not quite as easy to answer. Who invented golf? Was it the Scots? or the Chinese? or the Dutch? It depends on whom you ask. The history of golf remains a topic of debate even today.

The Early History of Golf Remains Shrouded in Mystery

The History of Golf - Ming Emperor Xuande playing chuiwan

Ming Xuande Xing Le Tu (literally A Drawing about Emperor Xuande’s Playing), displayed at Beijing’s Forbidden City Museum. The Ming Emperor Xuande playing a game that looks like golf, called chuiwan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We do know that a game similar to golf was first mentioned in the Dongxuan Records. This is a Chinese book written by Wei Tai of the Song Dynasty in the 11th century. We also find the great game mentioned in 1297 in the Netherlands, in which Dutch participants are described as playing a game with a stick and a leather ball. The goal was simple. Whoever hit the ball into an opening several hundred meters away and took the least number of hits to do it won.

golf tip, tee and ballWhen playing golf, arrive early and give yourself time to warm up. Establish a warm-up routine and time its completion so that you have just enough time to head over to your first tee for your assigned tee time. You do not want to keep others waiting. If there is a delay, use the time to practice your swings and make sure you stay warmed up.

Still, the Scots are adamant that the game of golf was invented in Scotland and first played on St. Andrews golf course. Many believe that it was bored Scottish sheepherders who unknowingly invented the game. While herding their sheep, they became quite proficient at knocking round-shaped stones into rabbit holes with their wooden shepherd’s staffs. We know of these activities dating from as early as the 14th century. But similar games were played in Holland, Belgium, and France as well, thus the debate over the early history of golf. However, the word “golf” also might be a derivative of the Dutch words “kolf” or “colf,” a game played in the Netherlands dating from the 13th century.

The First Written History of Golf in Scotland

Wherever the great game originated, we know that the rules were first put into writing in 1744 in Scotland. At that time, a group of men called the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers decided that a set of rules must be laid out for fair play. The first 13 laws of golf, which they developed, were written down for an annual competition. This is the first documented record referring to “golf.” Certainly, the game of golf as we know it today took shape based upon these rules in Scotland.

golf tip, tee and ball Begin your full swing warm-up by stretching. Before you start playing any sport, you should warm up by doing some stretching exercises. Stretching loosens the muscles and prevents injuries. If you become a serious golfer, you will appreciate your stretching exercises because over the long term they can help relieve serious joint pain.




How Golf History Evolved

Golf courses have not always had 18 holes. St. Andrews began with 11 holes because that’s what the topography would support. Players played 11 holes out and then back in for a total of 22 holes. As time went on, several of the holes deemed too short were combined. That reduced the number from 11 to 9 holes, so a complete round of golf became 18 holes.

About the mid- to late-1800s, the game began to catch on around the world. For many years, golf was considered a gentlemen’s game, one for men of means. Most golf equipment was handcrafted and, therefore, very expensive. By the 1850s, newly created private clubs were hiring “greenkeepers” to care for their golf courses. Today, supervising golf course greens has grown into a profession that is part science and part art.

golf tip, tee and ballIf your swing is too fast and the head of the club is not properly flowing through the swing, try relaxing your grip. Stand firmly, letting your arms relax and hang freely by your sides. There should be no tension in any muscles. Turn your hands and palms slightly inward, facing your thighs. Focus on the weight of the club head to help you adjust the flow and timing of the swing.

It is said that no other sport is as richly endowed with outstanding characters, incidents, and locations as golf. A man name Allan Robertson is regarded as the first great golfer. Robertson kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings of golf events. The concept of giving strokes (a handicap) allowed Robertson to set up matches with golfers who did not play at his level.

golf tip, tee and ballTry practicing your swing without the ball. This will allow you to focus purely on your swing. The mental game is an essential part of playing golf well. Practice seeing yourself make good swings. Complete the motion in your mind, then complete it by swinging the club without the ball.

Along the way, in the United States, golf began to be seen as more of an “Everyman’s” game. A Scotsman, John Reid, built the first three-hole course in Yonkers, New York. St. Andrews Club of Yonkers was built on a 30-acre site near the original three-hole course.

With that push, the sport of golf grew rapidly throughout the U.S. By the start of the 20th century, more than one thousand prestigious golf clubs had opened in North America.

Today, most regions of the U.S. feature public courses, which strive to be affordable for the average golfer.

The Evolution of Golf Equipment

Once metal club heads and shafts and balls began rolling off production lines, the average person was able to afford golf. Also, in the 1930s, the wooden golf tee was invented. Over the next several decades, many refinements were made to the game of golf that improved driver weight, ball trajectory, and overall game play.

golf tip, tee and ball A little golf etiquette: If you get stuck in the sand trap, consider the golfers who are playing behind you. Rake the area after you get out of it and leave it undisturbed for other players.

In the 1970s, the groundwork was laid for radically transforming golfing technology. Everything from golf clubs to turf preparation to instructional techniques evolved substantially. Today, golf clubs and golf balls are designed with precision. For example, the graphite shafts of golf clubs are 35% lighter than steel shafts, allowing golfers to drive shots farther by increasing club head speed with less effort. Precision golf ball designs make the ball fly longer on a drive.

golf tip, tee and ballAlways aim the club face toward your target as accurately as possible. Then, square your body to the target. This will help you keep your shots straight in alignment with the target. To try to make your shots more consistent, always use the same tee height. Teeing too low results in grounders, while teeing up too high elevates the shot too high and reduces the distance the ball travels.

The 1990s witnessed the proliferation of a whole slew of golf training aids. Finally, modern golf range equipment began to appear, eliminating the need for a ball-shagging caddy, and sparked a boom in driving-range construction.

Many golfers are self-taught; they learn by observing others. Some golfers feel that learning golfing techniques from a professional is the best way to master the sport. They either take golf lessons in person or learn from some of the excellent instructional videos available today.

golf tip, tee and ballReading instructional books or following instructional videos is good only to the extent that you put what you’re learning into practice. The best way to improve as a golfer is to practice. Put in your time on the driving range. Then, put in even more time practicing your chipping and putting. The short game is where you will win or lose every time.

Today, more people than ever are playing the great game. New chapters in the history of golf are being written every day.

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Golf warm up exercises

Niall McGill shows you how to warm up and stretch your golfing muscles prior to play.

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