Approximately 6 Million Canadians play an average of 15.5 rounds of golf each year, they will spend an excess of 13 Billion dollars doing so. Not bad for a game that quite likely was invented out of sheer boredom.
Arguably golf’s interesting origin began five centuries in the past. It is a historical fact that due to the interference of golf with much more serious combat drills James II of Scotland banned golf in an act of Parliament on March 6 in the year 1457. There is general agreement among historians and golf fans alike that the Scots were the first golfers who became somewhat addicted to the sport. However the persons responsible for the invention of golf is open to debate. And debate will ensue if you breech the subject with the right persons.
It has been suggested that bored sheepherders became quite exceptional at knocking round shaped stones into rabbit holes with their wooden shepherds staffs. Making a competitive game of the boredom seemed inevitable. After all women’s lib was not yet even considered so that means the shepherds were men. Lets face another fact of history, men tend to be more of a competitive nature. Various forms of golf were played as early as the fourteenth century. These games were played in Holland, Belgium, France as well as in Scotland, thus the debate of golf’s origin is rightly fueled.
There is another historical fact that Scottish Baron, James VI, was the man who delivered the game we know today as golf to the English. For many years the game was played on severely rugged terrain, where no proper upkeep was required. In most accounts golf was played with crudely cut holes in the ground where the earth was reasonably flat.
It was a group of Edinburgh golfers who first formed an organized club. In 1744 the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers was established. At this time in history the first thirteen laws of golf were drawn up for an annual competition. This first competition consisted of players from any part of Great Britain or Ireland.
One of the earliest golf clubs that were formed outside golf’s debatable native home of Scotland was the Royal Blackheath Golf Club of England. Blackheath came into existence in 1766 and the Old Manchester Golf Club was founded on the Kersal Moor in 1818.
By the late 1800’s the Royal Montreal Club and the Quebec Golf Club were to become the first in North America. It wasn’t until 1888 that golf resurfaced in the United States with more fervor than each prior surfacing. Even then it was a Scotsman, John Reid, who first built a three-hole course in Yonkers New York. St. Andrews Club of Yonkers was built in a thirty-acre site near to the original three-hole course.
From the hesitant and fitful start golf grew rapidly as the new national pastime in America. Modern for its time the golf club, Shinnecock Hills was founded in 1891 and in the nine years left in that century more than one thousand prestigious golf clubs opened in North America.
The historical value of golf is as interesting as any part of our heritage. Following the path that golf took to get from a shepherds field to the amazing golf courses that dot our culture today it is no wonder golf remains a popular pastime in all parts of the world.
By Robert Kavanagh @REINcheck