ball club game hole player green played party clubs playing
GOLF (in its older forms GOFF, GOUFF, or GOWFF, the last of which gives the genuine old pronunciation) is an amusement so peculiar to Scotland and so prevalent there that - unless curling may be held to dispute the place with it - it may be called, par excellence, the national game. There seems little doubt the word is derived from the German kolbe, a club - in Dutch, kolf, - which last is nearly in sound identical, and might give inference for the game of a Dutch origin.1 Golf may be practised on anygood stretch of meadow-laud, where the grass is not too rank ; but the ground best suited for the purpose is a reach of undulating down-country, such as is common on the seaboard, - sandy in soil, and as such covered with a short crisp turf, occasionally broken up by sandholes or " bunkers," and provided, in addition, with a fair supply of gorse or whin. These " bunkers " and whine constitute the main " hazards " of the game, in the avoidance of which skill in it is specially shown ; and without a fair provision of them, no golfing "links" or "green" can be held to approach the ideal standard. Small holes, of about 4 inches diameter, are punched in the turf at distances indefinitely variable, but ranging from about 100 to 400 or 500 yards ; and from one of these holes into the next in order, a ball of gutta percha of about 11 oz. weight has to be driven with implements (clubs) of some variety, devised for the purpose. Their variety is determined by this, that while, in starting from the hole, the ball may be teed (i.e., placed where the player chooses, with a little pinch of sand under it called a tee), it must in every other case be played strictly from its place as it chances to lie, - in sand, whin, or elsewhere, - a different club being necessary in each particular difficulty. These clubs may generally be defined as shafts of wood, with so called heads of wood or iron attached.2 Starting from the one hole, it is the immediate aim of the player to drive his ball as far towards the next as he can. Having got within some moderate distance of it, he proceeds to make his " approach shot," carefully selecting the appropriate implement. When he has reached the "putting green," - a smooth space carefully chosen for the purpose, - he essays to put (or putt) his ball into the hole ; and generally, if he does it in two strokes, he may be held skilful or fortunate. The player who holes his ball in the smallest number of strokes is, as matter of course, winner of the hole. The " approach " and the " putting " are by far the most difficult, critical, and important parts of the game ; though no one who is not fairly competent in his driving also is ever in the least likely to take rank as a first-class player. The maximum length of a good driving stroke for a first-class player, not favoured by any exceptional circumstances, may perhaps fairly be stated as something over 180 yards, and under 200. For further details as to the mode and order of playing, the reader is referred to the set of " rules" appended to this article.
The game, in description as above, may not seem very lively or entertaining ; and it is to be admitted that, seen for the first time, more especially if played by bungling or indifferent performers, it does not look of much promise. No game, however, stirs a keener enthusiasm in its votaries ; and very few people who have ever fairly committed themselves to serious practice of it will be found to deny its extreme fascination. It is a manly and eminently healthful recreation, pursued as it is mostly amid the fresh sea-breezes ; while, as exercise, it has this peculiar merit, that, according to pace, it may be made easy or smart at pleasure, and thus equally adapts itself to the overflowing exuberance of youth, the matured and tempered strength of manhood, and the gentler decays of age.
It is uncertain at what date golf was introduced into Scotland, but in 1457 the popularity of the game had already become so great as seriously to interfere with the more important pursuit of archery, and cause the rulers of the realm to sound a note of alarm. In March of that year, it is recorded that the Scottish parliament " deereted and ordained that wapinshawingis be hidden be the lordis and baronis spirituale and temporale, four times in the zeir ; and that the fute-ball and golf be utterly cry it dean, and noeht vs-it ; and that the bowe-merkis be maid at ilk paroche kirk a pair of but tie, and schuain be usit ilk. Sunday." It does not appear, however, that to this patriotic decree of their parliament the people paid much attention ; and fourteen years afterwards, in May 1471, it was judged necessary to pass another Act "anent Wa penshawings," and for opposing "our auld enimies of England." But it seems to have been pretty much as before ; sehuttin was no more vs-it, nor golf the less steadily played because of these decrees of parliament ; and accordingly in 1491 a final and evidently angry fulmination is issued on the general subject, with pains and penalties annexed. It runs thus - " Futeball and Golfe forbidden. Item, it is statut and ordainit that in na place of the realme there be usit futeball, golfe, or Mize?. sik unprojitabill sportis, but for the commoun glide of the realme, and defence thereof, that bowls and schuttin be headed, and bow-markis maid therefor, ordainit in ilk parochin under the pain of fourtie Whinges, to be raisit be the schireffe and baillies foresaid," Aze. This, be it noted, is an edict of James IV. ; and it is not a little curious presently to find the monarch himself breaking his own behest, and setting an ill example to his commons, by practice of this '' unprofitabill sport," as is shown by various entries in the accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland (1503-b).
About a century later, the game again appears on the surface of history, and it is quite as popular as before. In the year 1592, the Town Council of Edinburgh " ordanis proclamation to be maid threw this burgh that, seeing the Sabboth day being the Lordis day, it becumis every Christiane to delicat himselff to the service of God, thairfore commanding iu our soverane lord's name, and in name of the provost and baillies, that na inhabitants of the samyn be seen at oily pastymes within or without the noun, upoun the Sabboth, day, sic as golfe, d:c."1 The following year the edict was reaunounced, but with the modification that the prohibition was "in tyme of sermons."
Golf has from old times been known in Scotland as "The Royal and Ancient Game of Goff." Though no doubt Scottish monarchs handled the club before him, James IV. is the first who figures formally in the golfing record. James V. was also very partial to the game distinctively known as "royal"; and there is some scrap of evidence to show that his daughter, the unhappy Mary Stuart, was, in some sort of feminine way, a golfer. It was alleged by her enemies that, as showing her shameless indifference to the fate of her husband, a very few days after his murder, she "was seen playing golf and pallmall in the fields beside Seton."2 That her son, James VI. (afterwards James I. of England), was a golfer tradition confidently asserts, though the evidence which connects him with the personal practice of the game is slight. Of the interest he took in it we have evidence in Ins Act - already alluded to - ''anent golfs baths," prohibiting their importation, except under certain restrictions. Charles 1. (as his brother Prince Henry had been') was devotedly attached to the game. Whilst engaged in it on the links of Leith, in 1642, the news reached him of the lrish rebellion of that year. He had not the equanimity to finish his match, but returned precipitately and in much agitation to Holyrood.4 Lonkr, afterwards, while prisoner to the Scots army at Newcastle, before being given up to the tender mercies of the English Parliament, he found his favourite diversion in " the royal game." "The King was nowhere treated with more honour than at Newcastle, as he himself confessed, both lie and his train having liberty to go abroad and play at golf in the Shield Field; without the walls." Of his son, Charles II., as a golfer, nothing whatever is ascertained, but his brother, James II., was a known devotee.6 After the Resto•ation, James, then duke of York, was sent to Edinburgh in 1681-2 as commissioner of the king to parliament, and an historical monument of his prowess as a golfer remains there to this day in the "Golfer's Land," as it is still called, 77 Canongate. The duke having been challenged by two English noblemen of his suite, or entourage, to -play a match against them, for a very large stake, along with any Scotch ally he sio*ht select, judiciously chose as his partner one "Johne Paterson°, ' a shoemaker - a local crack of the day, it is to be presumed. The duke and the said Johne won easily, and half of the large stake the duke made over to his humble coadjutor, who therewith built himself the house mentioned above. With the Revolution royal patronage entirely ceased, to be renewed only in comparatively recent times. In 1834 William IV. because patron of ke St Andrews Golf Club (St Andrews, the ancient ecclesiastical maropolis of Scotland, being now, as of old, the most famous seat of the game), and to approve of its being styled in time coming "The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews." In 1837, as_further proof of royal favour, he presented to it a magnificent gold medal, which "should be challenged and played for annually ;" and in 1838 the queen dowager, duchess of St Andrews, became patroness of the club, and presented to it a handsome gold medal - "The Royal Adelaide," - as a mark of her approbation, with a request that it should be worn by the captain, as president, on all public occasions. In June 1663 the prince of Wales signified his desire to become patron of the club, and in the following September was elected captain by acclamation. The engagements of the prince did not admit of his coming in person to undertake the duties of the office, but his brother Prince Leopold, having in 1876 done the club the honour to become its captain, twice visited the ancient city in that capacity. Prince Leopold is himself a keen player, and under his superintendence a green has been laid out in Windsor-park. The ancient game of golf has thus fairly now again become as "royal" as ever it was in its old historic periods.
The later fortunes of the game have been uneventful. While always keeping its hold on the affections of the people, it might readily be shown, that over Scotland generally its tide, till nearly within our own time, was rather an ebbing than a flowing one. While it remained a favourite pastime with some of the aristocracy and gentry who always had a sufficient following where - as instance, in Edinburgh - the due facilities admitted, the general enthusiasm for the sport which lives for us in the old records had certainly disappeared, and over various isolated greens, where playing was at ono time constant, it had virtually and sometimes absolutely died out. Its increased popularity within recent years has no doubt been largely due to those general causes which have led to a keener interest in almost every form of out-door amusement, but it is also in some measure to be attributed to greatly extended railway facilities, and to the introduction souse thirty years ago of the cheap and durable gotta percha ball to replace the old missile, It remains to give some little account of the more noted golf clubs and golfing grounds. The most famous of golf clubs, to which primacy is by common consent accorded, is' that of the city of St Andrews, instituted in 1754. For various reasons this club has always been of much more than merely local celebrity. Its membership is far more numerous than that of any other ; nearly all golfers of note belong to it ; and to its spring and autumn meetings they flock from every past of the kingdom. To be winner of a medal at St Andrews is thus the highest honour to which the ambition of the golfer can aspire. A "round," as it is termed, of the links is very nearly four miles ; and, extent and quality considered, the green is on the whole unrivalled by any other in Scotland. Of greens in Fife of minor importance, those of his and Levee may be noted. Next in importance to " The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews" ranks " The Hononrable the Edinburgh Company of Golfers," who play over Musselburgh green, one of fair but scareely supreme quality. The first of its regular series of minutes bears date 1744, and is signed by Lord President Duncan Forbes of Culloden, but the club itself is beyond question very much older. Of other Edinburgh golf clubs may be noted " The Bruntsfield," founded in the year 1760,.and the " Edinburgh Burgess," the minute books of which are preserved since the year 1773, though it claims to have date of origin 1735. In East Lothian, besides the good old green of North Berwick, there are of late years two others, - Gullane and Lutiness, - and on all three excellent golfing sport is to be had, At the ancient city of Perth, though the ground is but indifferently-adapted for it, the old Scottish game has continuously been maintained, and still flourishes. So also in Forfasshire, at the historic green of Montrose, to which in our own time have been added those of Monifeith and Carnoustie, which, from their proximity, to Dundee, naturally attract many players ; and all three may be ranked as greens of fair quality. At Aberdeen, till very lately, the game had quite died out, but it has now been with more or less of vigour resumed. At Stirling likewise it was extinct, but is now again fairly alive, though under conditions of ground, as at Perth, not quite satisfactory. At Glasgow also, where on the old " Glasgow Green" the game was habitually played, it had lapsed into disuse and even oblivion ; but within the last ten years the general resuscitation has reached it, and a spirited club now exists there. If the ground is by no means what might be wished, the Glasgow golfer, by a very easy railway run, can reach the green of Prestwick, near Ayr. The " Prestwick Club " is, by comparison, of recent origin, having been organized mainly by the last earl of Eglintoun, and one or two gentle-me-u in the neighbourhood, interested like himself in the game. Except for limitation in extent, making it impossible that a large " field" should be accommodated without confusion and even danger, such is the excellence of the ground that, as a " sporting" green, to test play, that of Prestwick is held by competent judges perhaps to surpass all others. A second links has recently been opened at Prestwick, and another at Troon, on the same coast.
The oldest golf club in the kingdom is not improbably that of Blackheath, near London. The old records of the club were martunately destroyed by fire at Greenwich, where they were kept, and 1766 is thus the earliest date for which there is documentary evidence. Tradition places the origin of this club so far bade as 1608, when King James, with his Scotch following, brought time game south into England. Recently another London club has been started, whose ground of play is at Wimbledon. Neither green is of great merit, but both are much prized and frequented by ,golfers in and near London. In 1864, at Bideford, in Devonshire, a golfing green was laid out by the well-known Tom Morris of St Andrews, and a club was duly instituted, which has since continued to flourish. This links is one of the finest and most extensive anywhere to be found, and despite the disadvantage of remoteness and difficulty of access, the meetings of the club attract players from all quarters, and are commonly most successful. More lately an excellent green was opened at Hoylake, near Liverpool, and the club here has also prospered greatly. At Crookbam in Berkshire, and Alnwick in Northumberland, the game is regularly played ; and at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge rival golf clubs hare within the last few years been formed. In brief, the game has now thoroughly taken root in England ; from year to year it is rapidly spreading, and many fine English players have already passed into the front rank.
In nearly all the British colonies the game has naturalized itself. Golf clubs of old standing exist at Calcutta and Bombay, and more casually over India a good deal of play is to be met with. Wherever Scots congregate in any numbers a golf club is pretty sure to spring up. In Canada and the United States, as in Australia and New Zealand, many clubs may be found flourishing ; and, oddly enough, at Pau in the Pyrenees, a golf club has long existed. An export of clubs and balls to all these golfing dependencies has long formed, and still forms, an important item of the manufacture.
We must not quit the subject without making note of one pleasing innovation. Sonic six or eight years ago, the ladies took to the game, and since have diligently prosecuted it in large numbers, some attaining no mean proficiency. They have hitherto confined themselves to the " short game," as it is termed, or putting ; and where a separate piece of ground has been assigned them, as at St Andrews, North Berwick, and elsewhere, the " Ladies' Links " form a pretty and charming adjunct to the main green.
We append the more important rules of the game, as played by "The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews," which, though it has no claim to give law to other clubs, may be accepted as, on the whole, the best authority on the subject :- Mode and Order of Playing the Came. - The game of golf is played by two persons, or by four (two of a side), playing alternately, It may also be played by three or more persons, each playing his own ball. The game commences by each party playing off a ball from a place called the tee, near the first hole. In a match of four, those who are opposed to each other, and to play off; shall be named at starting, and shall continue so during the match. The person entitled to play off first shall be named by the parties themselves : and although the courtesy of starting is generally granted to old captains of the club, or members, it may be settled by lot or toss of a coin. The hole is won by the party holing at fewest strokes, and the reckoning of the game is made by the terms odds and like, one more, two more, &c. The party gaining the hole is to lead, unless his opponent has won the previous match, in which case the latter leads off, and is entitled to claim his privilege, and to recall his opponent's stroke should he play out of order. One round of the links, or 18 holes, is reckoned a match, nnless otherwise stipulated. If, in a double match, one person shall play twice in succession, he loses the hole.
Place of Teeing. - The ball must be teed not nearer the hole than eight, nor further than twelve club lengths, except where special ground has been marked by the conservator of the links, which shall be considered the "teeing ground," and the balls shall be teed within and not in advance of such marks. After the balls are struck off, the ball farthest from the hole to which the parties are playing must be played first. When two parties meet on the. putting green, the party first there may claim tire privilege of holing out, and any party coming up must wait till the other party has played out the hole, and on no account play their balls up lest they should annoy the parties who are putting. No player may play his teed ball till the party in front have played their second strokes.
Ill. Changing the halls. - The balls struck off from the tee must not be changed, touched, or moved before the hole is played out (except in striking, and the cases provided for by Rules VI II., .X VI I I., and XIX.) ; and if the parties are at a loss to know the one ball from the other, neither shall be lifted till both parties agree.
IV, Lifting of .Break-Clubs, &e. - All loose impediments within a club length of the ball may be removed on or oft the course, when the ball lies on grass (see Rules VI. and XII.) When a ball lies in a bunker, sand, or any other hazard, there shall be no impression made, nor sand or other obstacle removed by the club, or otherwise, either on or oil' the green, before striking at the ball. When a ball lies within a club length of a washing-tub, the tub may be removed, and when on clothes the hall may be lifted and dropped behind them.
Entitled to sec the Ball. - When a ball is completely covered with fog, bent, whirs, &c., so much thereof shall he set aside as that the player shall merely have a view of his ball before he plays, whether in a line with the hole or otherwise. A ball stuck fast in wet ground or sand may be taken out and replaced loosely in the hole it has made.
Clearing the Putting Green. - All loose impediments, of whatever kind, may be lifted on the putting green or table-land on which the hole is placed (excepting as declared in Rule IV.), which is considered not to exceed twenty yards from the hole. Nothing can be lifted either on the course or putting green, if it is to move the ball out of its position.
Lifting Balls. - When, on any part of the course, or off it, or iu a bunker, the balls lie within six inches of each other, the ball nearest the hole must be lifted till the other is played, and then placed as nearly as possible in its original position - the six inches to be measured from the surface of the balls. In a three-ball match, the ball in any degree interposing between the player and the hole on the putting green, must be played out.
Ball in Water, or in the Burn, and Place of he-teeing. - If the ball is in water, the player may take. it out, change the ball if he pleases, tee it, and play from behind the hazard, losing a stroke. It the ball lies in any position in the burn across the first hole, the player may take it out, tee it on the line where it entered the burn, on tire opposite side from the hole to which he is playing, and lose a stroke ; or he may play it where it lies, without a penalty. However, should a ball be driven into the Eden at the high hole, or the sea at the first hole, the ball must be placed a club-length in front of either sea or river, the player or party losing a stroke. In playing for a medal, a ball driven into the Eden may be treated as a lost ball.
Rubs of tire Green. - Whatever happens to a ball by accident, such as striking any person, or being touched with the foot by a third party, or by the fore early, must be reckoned a rub of the green, and submitted to. If, however, the player's ball strike his opponent, or his opponent's cady or clubs, the opponent loses the hole ; or if he strikes himself or his partner, or their cadies or clubs, or if he strikes the ball a second time while in the act of playing, the player loses the hole. If the player touch the ball with his foot, or any part of his body, or with anything except his club, or if he with his club displace the ball in preparing to strike, he loses a stroke ; and if one party strikes his opponent's ball with his club, foot, or otherwise, that party loses the hole. But if he plays it inadvertently, thinking it his own, and the opponent also plays the wrong ball, it is then too late to claim the penalty, and the hole must be played out with the balls thus changed. If, however, the mistake occurs from wrong information given by one party to the other, the penalty cannot be claimed ; and the mistake, if discovered before the other party has played, must be rectified by replacing the ball as nearly as possible where it lay. If the player's ball be played away by mistake, or lifted by a third party, then the player must drop a ball as near the spot as possible, without any penalty. Whatever happens to a ball on a medal day, such as a player striking his cady, or himself, or his clubs, or moving the ball with his foot or club, or his cady doing so, or the playeestriking it twice before it stops motion, the player in such cases shall lose one stroke only as the penalty.
Ball Lost. - If a ball is lost, the player (or his partner, in a double match) returns to the spot, as near as possible, where the ball was struck, tees another ball, and loses both the distance and a stroke. If the original ball is found before the party has struck the other ball, the first shall continue the one to be played.
Club Breaking. - If, in striking, the club breaks, it is nevertheless counted to be a stroke, if the part of the club remaining in the player's hand either strike the ground or pass the ball.
Unplaying Balls. - In Match playing every ball must be played, wherever it lies, or the hole be given up, excepting when it lies on clothes, in water, or in the bed of the burn (see Rules IV. and VIII.), or in any of the holes, or short holes, made for golfing, in which latter case it may be lifted, dropped behind the hazard, and played without losing a stroke. In Medal playing a ball may. under a penalty of two strokes, he lifted out of a difficulty of any description, and teed behind the hazard, and if in any of the golfing holes, it may be lifted, dropped, and played, without a penalty. in . all cases where a ball is to be dropped, the party doing so shall front the hole to which he is playing, standing close on tire hazard, and drop tire ball behind him from his head.
XV. Asking Ad-viee. - A player must not ask advice about the game, by word, look, or gesture, from any one except his own cady, his partner's cady, or his partner.
Balls Splitting. - If a ball shall split into two or more pieces, a fresh ball shall be put down where the largest portion of the ball lies ; and if a ball is cracked the player may change it on intimating his intention of doing so to his opponent.
Breach of Rules. - Where no penalty for the infringement of a rule is specially mentioned, the loss of the hole shall be understood to be the penalty.
Golf which, as we have seen, has a history of some interest, has also a literature (copious in verse and prose), and a somewhat amusing aneedotage. In Golf, a Royal Nut Ancient Game, a work issued in 1875 by Hr Robert Clark of Edinburgh, a well-known and accomplished adept, a very careful collection will be found of everything connected with the game which in this form deserves preservation. Through the ready kindness of the author this admirable compendium has been available, and free use has been made of it, in the preparation of this article. (P. P. A.)