A Short History of Golf
Golf, also known as the gentlemen's game, is one of the most popular and widely played sports in the world. This individual sport is enjoyed on every continent of the world except Antarctic (although a game was played there once by military personnel manning the science station located there), and in almost every country on the face of the earth. Indeed, the popularity of this game cannot be denied, however the origins of this sport are humble and brought about by the frustration of its creators to have a game that they could enjoy without interference by those who they felt were out to prevent them from having any kind of fun in their lives, their wives.
The game of golf or "Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden" was created as a way for men to get away from their wives and enjoy a pursuit that afforded them the opportunity to bond with other men. The game was began in the mid-15th century, in Scotland, when noblemen who were infuriated by the influx of women into activities which had previously been considered all male decided to create a game that strictly forbade their participation. The men saw this as an opportunity to get together and drink, speak openly, and enjoy the company of other gentlemen without the distraction of the other gender. One of the first indications of the popularity that golf soon found among its players is the fact that James II had to ban the came for a short time due to his belief that it was a major distraction against the learning of the art and play of archery. He felt that golf was going to be the downfall of his kingdom since men would not be able to defend their communities if the time came due to the lack of archery skills. The game continued to be played in other areas of Europe, especially Scotland. The first recorded instance of a golf tournament took place at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860. The location of Prestwick in Ayrshire, Scotland is appropriate since even today the highlands of Scotland are considered a place of pilgrimage for those who are fans of the game.
Golf may have started in the modern form that we know it in Scotland, but there is indication the games creators may have been influenced by other games. In fact, the basic concept goes back as far as ancient Rome. Romans played a game called Paganica. During this game, players hit a stuffed leather ball with bent hardwood sticks. The object of the game is to hit the leather ball, as close to the target flag as possible. The concept of scoring according to the strokes taken by each player, and the lowest scoring player being the winner may come from the ancient Chinese game of Chuiwan, which originated as a game of hitting hardwood balls with long straight sticks. This game was played as part of the celebration of the Autumn Banquet which commemorates the harvest time and the joy of gathering together with family and friends and the thankfulness of a bountiful harvest.
The history of Golf goes back many centuries and in some ways to the very origins of civilization. While the game has evolved over the years, it has seen little change in the fundamental aspect of play. This is perhaps what makes golf so endearing for those who play it. It is a game that has found a way to keep up with the times, while at the same time staying true to its core and origins.