One of Britain’s favorite Sports is Golf which It is believed a form of ball and club sport called ‘Paganica’ was first played in Londinium ( London, England ) by the Romans in 150 AD. Whilst the argument continues on who first invented the sport of Golf, the one certain fact concerning the origins of golf, is that modern golf rules were first played in Scotland in the form we know of today. It would appear that in around 1353, golfers adopted the principle of allowing each team to hit a second uninterrupted shot. Previously, teams of players would alternate hitting a ball back and forth across the links in Fife.
The history of golf shows that golf also rapidly acquired such a popularity, that it eclipsed the sport of archery. Archery was so vital to Scotland’s national defence, that the playing of golf in Scotland was made a criminal offence punishable by hanging. The modern game of golf we understand today is generally considered to be a Scottish Invention, as the game was mentioned in two 15th-century Acts of the Scottish Parliament, prohibiting the playing of the game of gowf because it was taking time from archery practice, which was necessary for national defense.
The modern game of golf originated and developed in Scotland: the first permanent golf course originated in Scotland, as well as membership in the first golf clubs. The very first written rules originated there, as did the establishment of the 18-hole course. The first formalized tournament structures developed and competitions were held between various Scottish cities. Before long, the modern game of golf had spread from Scotland to England and from there to the rest of the world. The oldest playing golf course in the world is The Old Links at Musselburgh Links. Evidence has shown that golf was played on Musselburgh Links in 1672, although Mary, Queen of Scots reputedly played there in 1567.
In 1603 James VI of Scotland suceeded to the throne of England. He and his courtiers played golf at Blackheath, London, from which the Royal Blackheath Golf Club traces its origins. There is evidence that Scottish soldiers, expatriates and emigrants took the game to British colonies and elsewhere during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The Royal Calcutta Golf Club and the club at Pau in south western France are notable reminders of these excursions and are the oldest golf clubs ouside the British Isles and the oldest in continental Europe respectively. However, it was not until the late 19th century that Golf became more widely popular outside of its Scottish home.
By the 1860s there were regular services from London to Edinburgh. The royal enthusiam for Scotland, the much improved transport links and the writings of Sir Walter Scott caused a boom for tourism in Scotland and a wider interest in Scottish history and culture outside of the country. This period also co-incided with the development of the Gutty; a golf ball made of Gutta Percha which was cheaper to mass produce, more durable and more consistent in quality and performance than the feather filled leather balls used previously. Golf began to spread across the rest of the British Isles. In 1864 the golf course at the resort of Westward Ho! became the first new course in England since Blackheath. In 1880 England had 12 courses, rising to 50 in 1887 and over 1000 by 1914. The game in England had progressed sufficiently by 1890 to produce its first Open Championship, John Ball. The game also started to spread further across the British Commonwealth and at British Tourist destinations.
By the 1880s golf clubs had been established in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. Singapore followed in 1891. Courses were also established in several continental european resorts for the benefit of British visitors.
The word golf was first mentioned in writing in 1457 on a Scottish Parliamentary Statute on forbidden games as gouf, possibly derived from the Scots word goulf (variously spelled) meaning “to strike or cuff”. This word may, in turn, be derived the Dutch word Kolf, meaning “bat,” or “club,” and the Dutch sport of the same name.
Timeline on the history of golf from 150 AD to 1900 AD:
150 AD ball and club sport called ‘Paganica’ was first played in Londinium ( London, England ) by the Romans.
1354 – The first recorded reference to “chole”, the probable antecedent of golf. It is a derivative of hockey played in Flanders.
1421 – A Scottish regiment aiding the French against the English at the Siege of Bauge is introduced to the game of chole. Hugh Kennedy, Robert Stewart and John Smale, three of the identified players, are credited with introducing the game in Scotland.
1457 – Golf, along with football, is banned by the Scots Parliament of James II to preserve the skills of Archery by prohibiting gowf on Sundays because it has interfered with military training for the wars against the English.
1470 – The ban on golf is reaffirmed by the Parliament of James III.
1491 – The golf ban is affirmed again by Parliament, this time under James IV.
1502 – With the signing of the Treaty of Glasgow between England and Scotland, the ban on golf is lifted.
James IV makes the first recorded purchase of golf equipment, a set of golf clubs from a bow-maker in Perth.
1513 – Queen Catherine, queen consort of England, in a letter to Cardinal Wolsey, refers to the growing popularity of golf in England.
1527 – The first commoner recorded as a golfer is Sir Robert Maule, described as playing on Barry Links, Angus (near the modern-day town of Carnoustie).
1552 – The first recorded evidence of golf at St. Andrews, Fife.
1553 – The Archbishop of St Andrews issues a decree giving the local populace the right to play golf on the links at St. Andrews.
1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, seen playing golf shortly after the death of her husband Lord Darnley, is the first known female golfer.
1589 – Golf is banned in the Blackfriars Yard, Glasgow. This is the earliest reference to golf in the west of Scotland.
1592 – The Royal Burgh of Edinburgh bans golfing at Leith on Sunday “in tyme of sermonis.” (Eng: sermons)
1618 – Invention of the featherie ball.
King James VI of Scotland and I of England confirms the right of the populace to play golf on Sundays.
1621 – First recorded reference to golf on the links of Dornoch (later Royal Dornoch), in the far north of Scotland.
1641 – Charles I is playing golf at Leith when he learns of the Irish rebellion, marking the beginning of the English Civil War. He finishes his round.
1642 – John Dickson receives a licence as ball-maker for Aberdeen.
1659 – Golf is banned from the streets of Albany, New York-the first reference to golf in America.
1682 – In the first recorded international golf match, the Duke of York and John Paterstone of Scotland defeat two English noblemen in a match played on the links of Leith.
Andrew Dickson, carrying clubs for the Duke of York, is the first recorded caddy.
1687 – A book by Thomas Kincaid, Thoughts on Golve, contains the first references on how golf clubs are made.
1721 – Earliest reference to golf at Glasgow Green, the first course played in the west of Scotland.
1724 – “A solemn match of golf” between Alexander Elphinstone and Captain John Porteous becomes the first match reported in a newspaper. Elphinstone fights and wins a duel on the same ground in 1729.
1735 – The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh is formed.
1743 – Thomas Mathison’s epic The Goff is the first literary effort devoted to golf.
1744 – The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is formed, playing at Leith links. It is the first golf club.
The Royal Burgh of Edinburgh pays for a Silver Cup to be awarded to the annual champion in an open competition played at Leith. John Rattray is the first champion.
1754 – Golfers at St. Andrews purchase a Silver Cup for an open championship played on the Old Course. Bailie William Landale is the first champion.
The first codified Rules of Golf published by the St. Andrews Golfers (later the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews).
1759 – Earliest reference to stroke play, at St. Andrews. Previously, all play was match.
1761 – The Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society of Edinburgh is formed.
1764 – The competition for the Silver Club at Leith is restricted to members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
The first four holes at St. Andrews are combined into two, reducing the round from twenty-two holes (11 out and in) to 18 (nine out and in). St. Andrews is the first 18-hole golf course, and sets the standard for future courses.
1766 – The Blackheath Club in London becomes the first golf club formed outside of Scotland.
1767 – The score of 94 returned by James Durham at St. Andrews in the Silver Cup competition sets a record unbroken for 86 years.
1768 – The Golf House at Leith is erected. It is the first golf clubhouse.
1773 – Competition at St. Andrews is restricted to members of the Leith and St. Andrews societies.
1774 – Thomas McMillan offers a Silver Cup for competition at Musselburgh, East Lothian. He wins the first championship.
The first part-time golf course professional (at the time also the greenkeeper) is hired, by the Edinburgh Burgess Society.
1780 – The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen (later the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club) is formed.
1783 – A Silver Club is offered for competition at Glasgow.
1786 – The South Carolina Golf Club is formed in Charleston, the first golf club outside of the United Kingdom.
The Crail Golfing Society is formed.
1788 – The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers requires members to wear club uniform when playing on the links.
1797 – The Burntisland Golf Club is formed.
The town of St. Andrews sells the land containing the Old Course (known then as Pilmor Links), to Thomas Erskine for 805 pounds. Erskine was required to preserve the course for golf.
1806 – The St. Andrews Club chooses to elect its captains rather than award captaincy to the winner of the Silver Cup. Thus begins the tradition of the Captain “playing himself into office,” by hitting a single shot before the start of the annual competition.
1810 – Earliest recorded reference to a women’s competition at Musselburgh.
1820 – The Bangalore Club is formed.
1824 – The Perth Golfing Society is formed, later Royal Perth (the first club so honored).
1826 – Hickory imported from America is used to make golf shafts.
1829 – The Dum Dum Golfing Club, later Calcutta Golf Club (and later still Royal Calcutta) is formed.
1832 – The North Berwick Club is founded, the first to include women in its activities, although they are not permitted to play in competitions.
1833 – King William IV confers the distinction of “Royal” on the Perth Golfing Society; as Royal Perth it is the first Club to hold the distinction.
The St. Andrews Golfers ban the stymie, but rescind the ban one year later.
1834 – William IV confers the title “Royal and Ancient” on the Golf Club at St. Andrews.
1836 – The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers abandons the deteriorating Leith Links, moving to Musselburgh.
The longest drive ever recorded with a feathery ball, 361 yards, is achieved by Samuel Messieux at Elysian Fields.
1842 – The Bombay Golfing Society (later Royal Bombay) is founded.
1844 – Blackheath follows Leith in expanding its course from five to seven holes. North Berwick also had seven holes at the time, although the trend toward a standard eighteen had begun.
1848 – Invention of the “guttie,” the gutta-percha ball. It flies farther than the feathery and is much less expensive. It contributes greatly to the expansion of the game.
The Bangalore golf club was formed in 1868 and not 1820 as stated in timeline.[
The Prestwick Golf Club is founded.
The Royal Curragh Golf Club is founded at Kildare, the first golf club in Ireland. Pau Golf Club is founded, the first on the Continent.
A rule change is enacted that, in match play, the ball must be played as it lies or the hole be conceded. It is the last recorded toughening of the rules structure.
“The Golfer’s Manual”, by “A Keen Hand” (H. B. Farnie), is published. It is the first book on golf instruction.
The Prestwick Club institutes the first Championship Meeting, a foursomes competition at St. Andrews attended by eleven golf clubs. George Glennie and J.C. Stewart win for Blackheath.
The format of the Championship Meeting is changed to individual match play and is won by Robert Chambers of Bruntsfield.
Allan Robertson becomes the first golfer to break 80 at the Old Course, recording a 79.
The King James VI Golf Club is founded in Perth, Scotland.
The first Amateur Championship is won by George Condie of Perth.
Death of Allan Robertson, the first great professional golfer.
The Prestwick Club institutes a Professional Championship played at Prestwick; the first Championship Belt is won by Willie Park, Snr.
The Professionals Championship is opened to amateurs, and the The Open Championship is born. The first competition is won by Old Tom Morris.
The North Devon Golf Club is founded at Westward Ho!
The Ladies’ Golf Club at St. Andrews is founded, the first golf club for women.
The Liverpool Golf Club is founded at Hoylake, later Royal Liverpool.
Young Tom Morris, age 17, wins the first of four successive Open Championships. His streak would include an 11-stroke victory in 1869 and a 12-stroke victory in 1870 (in a 36-hole format). His 149 in the 1870 Open over 36 holes is a stroke average that would not be equalled until the invention of the rubber-cored ball.
Young Tom Morris wins his third consecutive Open Championship, thus winning permanent possession of the Belt.
The Royal Adelaide Golf Club is founded, the first golf club in Australia.
The Otago Golf Club is formed, the first club in New Zealand.
The Open Championship is reinstituted when Prestwick, St. Andrews and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers offer a new trophy, with the Open Championship to be hosted in rotation by the three clubs.
Young Tom Morris wins his fourth consecutive Open Championship.
The Christchurch Golf Club is formed, the second club in New Zealand.
The Royal Montreal Golf Club is formed, the first club in Canada.
The Open Championship is held for the first time at the Old Course.
The Oxford and Cambridge University Golf Clubs are founded.
Young Tom Morris dies at age 24. He did not emotionally recover from the death of both his wife and their daughter in childbirth earlier that year.
Vesper Country Club is formed in Tyngsboro, MA.
The first University Match is played at Wimbledon, won by Oxford.
Royal Belfast is founded.
The use of moulds is instituted to dimple the gutta-percha ball. Golfers had long noticed that the guttie worked in the air much better after it had been hit several times and scuffed up.
Bob Ferguson of Musselburgh, losing The Open in extra holes, comes one victory shy of equalling Young Tom Morris’ record of four consecutive titles. Ferguson ends up later in life penniless, working out of the Musselburgh caddy-shack.
The Oakhurst Golf Club is founded at White Sulphur Springs. The first hole at The Homestead survives from this course and is the oldest surviving golf hole in America.
The Amateur Championship is first played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
The Royal Cape Golf Club is founded at Wynberg, South Africa, the first club in Africa.
A.J. Balfour is appointed Chief Secretary (Cabinet Minister) for Ireland; his rise to political and social prominence has an incalculable effect on the popularity of golf, as he is an indefatigable player and catalyzes great interest in the game through his writing and public speaking.
“The Art of Golf” by Sir Walter Simpson is published.
The Foxburg Country Club is founded in Foxburg, Pennsylvania, the oldest golf course in the United States in continuous use in one place.
1888 Kebo Valley Golf Club is the 8th oldest Golf course in the US.
The St. Andrew’s Golf Club is founded in Yonkers, New York, the oldest surviving golf club in America.
John Ball, an English amateur, becomes the first non-Scotsman and first amateur to win The Open Championship.
Bogey is invented by Hugh Rotherham, as the score of the hypothetical golfer playing perfect golf at every hole. Rotherham calls this a “Ground Score,” but Dr. Thomas Brown, honorary Secretary of the Great Yarmouth Club, christens this hypothetical man a “Bogey Man,” after a popular song of the day, and christens his score a “Bogey.” With the invention of the rubber-cored ball golfers are able to reach the greens in fewer strokes, and so bogey has come to represent one over the par score for the hole.
The Golfing Union of Ireland is founded on 12 October 1891 and is the oldest Golfing Union in the world.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is founded on Long Island.
Warkworth Golf Club is founded in Northumberland, designed by Old Tom Morris
Palmetto Golf Club established in Aiken, South Carolina.
Glen Arven Country Club golf course established in Thomasville, Georgia USA; the oldest course still in use in Georgia.
Gate money is charged for the first time, at a match between Douglas Rollard and Jack White at Cambridge. The practice of paying for matches through private betting, rather than gate receipts and sponsorships, survives well into the 20th Century as a “Calcutta,” but increasingly gate receipts are the source of legitimate prize purses.
The Amateur Golf Championship of India and the East is instituted, the first international championship event.
The Ladies’ Golf Union of Great Britain and Ireland is founded and the first British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship won by Lady Margaret Scott at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.
The Irish Ladies’ Golf Union is founded and is the oldest Ladies Golf Union in the world.
The Chicago Golf Club opens the United States’ first 18-hole golf course on the site of the present-day Downers Grove Golf Course. The Chicago Golf Club moved to its current location in 1895.
Victoria Golf Club is formed and remains the oldest course west of the Mississippi on its original site.
The Segregansett Country Club opens in Taunton, Massachusetts. This course is still in operation.
The Open is played on an English course for the first time and is won for the first time by an Englishman, J.H. Taylor. Taylor, along with Harry Vardon and James Braid (together known as the Great Triumvirate) would dominate the Open Championship for the next two decades.
The United States Golf Association is founded as the Amateur Golf Association of the United States. Charter members are the Chicago Golf Club, The Country Club, Newport Country Club, St. Andrew’s Golf Club, and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
Tacoma Golf Club is founded, the first golf club on the US Pacific Coast.
The U.S. Amateur Championship is instituted, with Charles B. Macdonald winning the inaugural event. The first United States Open is held the following day, with Horace Rawlins winning.
July 6, 1895 – Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course opens – the first public golf course in America.
The pool cue is banned as a putter by the USGA.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur is instituted. Mrs. Charles S. Brown (née Lucy N. Barnes) is the first winner.
Harry Vardon wins his first British Open.
The first NCAA Championship is held. Louis Bayard, Jr. is the winner.
“Golf”, America’s first golfing magazine, is published for the first time.
The term “birdie” is coined at Atlantic C.C. from “a bird of a hole.”
Freddie Tait, betting he could reach the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club clubhouse from the clubhouse at Royal St George’s Golf Club – a three mile distance – in forty shots or less, puts his 32nd stroke through a window at the Cinque Ports club.
The Haskell ball is designed and patented by Coburn Haskell. It is the first rubber-cored ball.
Church Stretton Golf Club is founded, the oldest 18-hole course in Shropshire and one of the highest courses in England and the United Kingdom.
The Western Open is first played at Glenview G.C., the first tournament in what would evolve into the PGA Tour.
Walter Travis wins the first of his three U.S. Amateur Championships. Harry Vardon wins the U.S. Open, the first golfer to win both the British and U.S. Opens.
Golf is placed on the Olympic calendar for the 2nd Games at Paris.
My other website is called Directory of British Icons: http://fabprints.webs.com
The Chinese call Britain ‘The Island of Hero’s’ which I think sums up what we British are all about. We British are inquisitive and competitive and are always looking over the horizon to the next adventure and discovery.
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