The History of Golf

History of Golf

The first game using a stick and a ball started in Russia and was called ‘paganica’ and it travelled across Europe via Germany and France to Holland, where the Dutch renamed the game as ’kolf’. While historical records show no evidence of golf being played in Scotland before 1450 there is proof of the Dutch playing ‘kolf’ in 1300. The game of ‘Kolf’ was played on ice in the winter and fields in the summer and historical records suggest that it died out in Holland in around 1700. It is suggested that Scotland is the home of golf and there is a link there because it was probably Scottish wool merchants who first took the game from Holland to the British Isles. Just how did this happen? It would appear that Scottish wool merchants took their ‘wares’ for sale across the North Sea to Holland but while waiting for favourable return winds they passed their time playing ‘kolf’ They took the game to the east coast of Scotland where the natural terrain suited this new game and they played the game across country to a rabbit scrape, which they used as a hole, which was marked with a gull feather. Just think about it for a minute, if it weren’t for rabbits the game of ‘golf’ as we know it today would not have existed. The natural habits of rabbits is to chew grass and live in hollows thereby preventing growth of vegetation and creating bare patches which were probably the first ‘greens’. In the middle of the scrape, the buck rabbit would create a hole and urinate in it to mark his territory and the early golfers would play from one hollow to the next. Today due to the extended use of chemicals and fertilisers on golf course it is dangerous to lick your golf ball to clean after ‘holing out’ it but you can see that even in the early days this practise was best avoided!

So there you have it, the history of the origins of golf………or is it?

According to an article in the Daily Mail golf is now claimed to have it’s origins in of all places China. Professor Ling Hongling has stated that the game began in China in 945AD some 500 years the Scots first played the game. There are references in Chinese libraries to a pastime called ‘chulwan-chui’ which when translated means ‘to hit a ball’ Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes are believed to have taken golf to Europe centuries later. There is also reference in a 10th century book in which a magistrate ordered his daughter to dig ‘goals’ in the ground so he may drive a ball into them with a purposely crafted stick. In addition two Chinese paintings from the 13th century depict noblemen hitting balls into holes with sticks that look remarkably like today’s golf clubs. Only time will tell whether golf history has actually been re-written but you should note that in the same article China claims to also have invented football, basketball and skiing.

Whatever the origins of the game there is clearly a history associated to golf, which gives it a certain mystic. Remember that all our fore fathers who created golf history would love to be the other side of the turf and to join you for one more game, good or bad. So the next time that you are out on the golf course and having ‘one of those days’, forget the disappointment and anger, simply enjoy your surroundings, the companionship, the challenge and enjoy this wonderful game of golf that our forefathers gave to us.