The Millstone Times August 2021

The History of Golf By Bianca Battaglia

Golf consists of bright green, manicured lawns peppered with holes and the occasional sand trap. In eighteen rounds, players attempt to maneuver the ball into various holes positioned throughout the course, using as few strokes as possible. Golf is an entertaining and challenging game enjoyed and played by amateurs and professionals alike, and since August marks National Golf Month, what better way to celebrate the occasion than by exploring the history of this popular pastime? The origin of golf is a widely debated topic. Some suggest the game may have originated in Rome, citing similarities between golf and the Roman game paganica, while others propose it may have originated in China during the Ming dynasty, as it resembles the game chuiwan. Both paganica and chuiwan were games in which players maneuvered a ball with a stick. One of the most common theories, however, believe golf actually originated in Scotland in the fifteenth century. This early version of golf saw players use a bent stick to hit pebbles around various tracks and across sand dunes. This game was appar- ently so popular among the Scottish population that King James II banned golf in 1457, as it distracted the soldiers from practicing their military exercises. Eventually, King James IV of Scotland removed the ban in 1502, and took up the game himself. From then on, golf ’s popularity spread throughout Europe over the coming centuries. In fact, Mary Queen of Scots, the granddaughter of King James IV, is reportedly the first woman to ever play golf. While the following centuries saw a steady increase in the game’s prevalence, its popularity as a sport grew exponentially during the Industrial Revolution. The creation of the railways encouraged mass transportation, as people could travel from the cities into the countryside, which housed an ever-growing number of golf courses. Furthermore, mass production made purchasing golf clubs and golf balls much more accessible and affordable for the work- ing-class population. Interestingly, the earliest references to golf in the United States date as far back as the 1780s, with mentions of various golf clubs in South Carolina and Georgia. However, these were considered more as social clubs, and were disbanded during the War of 1812. Eventually, golf became recognized as an organized sport in the United States in 1888, with the establishment of Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in New York State by Scottish businessman John Reid, who is called the “Father of American Golf.” Over the course of the next few years, more golf courses and country clubs were founded all across the United States, which ultimately led to the creation of the United States Golf Association (USGA) in 1894. However, women were barred from playing the sport professionally until the establishment of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in 1950. Professional golfers compete in the four main tournaments: The U.S. Open, The Master’s Tournament, The British Open, and the Professional Golfers’ Association Championship. Some of the sport’s most prolific and world-famous athletes include Arnold Palmer, Renee Powell, and Tiger Woods. Sources:

18 The Millstone Times

August 2021

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