According to humorist and author, Dave Barry ,“Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing,” but the sport as it is known today originated in Scotland when some kilt wearing peasants got the idea to adapt a similar game of probable European origin by digging a few holes to knock the balls into as opposed to just swatting it around a field of play. By 1447 it was already the favorite game of work shirkers as King James II was forced to issue a ban on the playing of golf (and football/soccer). The games, James complained, were keeping his archers from their practice. Even though James III in 1471 and James IV in 1491 each re-issued the ban on golf, it continued to develop in Scotland over the decades and centuries until finally 1744 the first-known rules of golf were put down in writing. According the American author, Bruce Lansky, ‘Golf has more rules than any other game because golf has more cheaters than any other game.”
My darling fiance tells me that the word golf is really an acronym which means, gentlemen only ladies forbidden but according to Brent Kelley at About.com this is not true. The word golf actually originates from the medieval Dutch word kolf which means club and was passed to the Scots, whose old Scots dialect transformed the word into gouf which by the 16th century became golf.
Rob and some friends are enjoying a golf holiday this week in a beautiful mountain setting. He has a timeshare, and they are spending the week tossing clubs, breaking wine glasses and arm wrestling. Not all at once and I am told that there is actual golfing taking place as well.
I’ve golfed three times in my life, if mini-golf doesn’t count and I am sure it does not as I can feel the glare of golf purists everywhere melting the screen as they read this sentence. It is a game that requires more patience than I was born with, which is none, or have managed to acquire since, which is not much more than none, and every time I have attempted to play I accomplished little more than to test someone else’s patience.
The first golf outing was with my father when I was ten. He had acquired an old set of clubs at a garage sale and dragged my next youngest sister and I to the nearby public course to test them out. I suspect he was testing Kate and I. My dad was determined to make athletes out of us and though we were both good ball players at that point, he probably realized that there wasn’t much of a long term future for girls who played baseball. In the early 70’s girls were eventually forced to accept the poorer softball substitute. Golf, as far as I know, doesn’t have a watered down girl version. Though I am probably wrong about that. All sports seem to have inferior girls’ rules versions. We played nine holes before Dad got tired of our whining and took us home. The clubs went into the basement and I think Mom eventually pawned them off on someone at a garage sale of her own.
The second time was a blind date with a 40 something farmer friend of one of my best friend’s husband. I was about 26 at the time. It would be no exaggeration to say that I have never played so well as that day. I can be great at nearly anything when properly motivated, and the motivation that afternoon was quick escape.
The third golf outing was a best ball tournament that I entered simply to impress a guy I was dating at the time. I even went to a driving range to practice beforehand. My sister took me. She had actually taken the game up in her early twenties. I don’t remember if I impressed the boyfriend or not. My guess is not and is probably related to the patience thing. Most men had little patience with my lack of said quality. I haven’t attempted golf since.
I admire people with patience although it seems to me that many people who take up golf aren’t. Maybe one practices the art of patience by taking up golf? I think though that there has to be less boring ways to learn a virtue.