Dave Pridgen & My Love of Golf
If I’m not at a game, and I am not working, then you’ll find me on one golf course or another…
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“Golf is very much like a love affair; if you don’t take it seriously, it’s no fun, if you do, it breaks your heart. Don’t break your heart, but flirt with the possibility.”
~ Louise Suggs
Are you having a love affair with the game of golf? If so, you’re definitely not alone! Golf is a game that was once enjoyed almost exclusively by the wealthy but has since grown to a hobby that is commonplace and affordable to virtually anyone. Even children enjoy so-called miniature golf courses, and Par 3 courses are popular with young adults and those not quite up to the standard courses.
Many mistakenly believe that golf was an invention of the 19th century; no doubt television has a lot to do with these types of misconceptions. People often assume something is new when they first stumble upon it, and television brought golfing championships to the eyes of the general public. But in reality golf has been around for literally centuries.
History of Golf
Obviously it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact day and year when the game that would evolve into golf began to be played. Most agree that it began in Scotland around the 12th century with sheep herders smacking rocks into holes with the rods and staffs they used to guide their sheep. This quickly became a competitive game between them, seeing who could hit the smallest hole with the fewest amounts of attempts and who could hit the rocks the greatest distance, and so on. This simple game became very popular and was soon seen as distracting, so that in the 15th century the Scottish Parliament actually passed laws prohibiting its play. They may have felt that it was distracting from their work or that it might have led to excessive celebrating.
The love of the game of course won out; the first permanent golf course originated in Scotland as did membership of the first golf clubs. Rues of the game began to be recorded, as did the practice of a course that included 18 holes. Competitions between teams that represented cities began to evolve. The game soon began to be popular in England and other surrounding areas as well.
The oldest official golf course is believed to be The Old Links at Musselburgh Racecourse. Records of games being played there date back to 1567! However there are also records of a game similar to golf being played in China during the Ming dynasty during the 1400’s. So it’s obvious that you cannot put an absolute date on the first game that became what we call golf today.
Of course golf went through many changes during these years. Not all courses were 18 holes; the St. Andrew’s Links occupy a narrow strip of land on the Queen Mary of Scots territory adjacent to the sea. In the 15th century many games were played in areas that could not support a full 18 holes and a regulation type of course; holes were dictated according to topography. In St. Andrews, that first course, there were actually 11 holes that players went through in a circle, for a total of 22 holes in the game. It’s believed however that this course is where the standard 18 holes emerged because they eventually figured some were too short to play and they were combined for nine holes total; when players went through the course as they should have, it became a standard 18 hole course.