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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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A Little Golf History

For some time, as I have hit golf balls, questions always come to mind about the game’s history?

First, the origins of golf pretty definitely go back to the 15th century in Scotland. At that time, pebbles were used instead of balls with the “golfers” using wooden sticks for clubs. Then, in 1774, Edinburgh golfers actually standardized the rules for the game of golf.

Soon, pebbles evolved to leather bags stuffed with feathers. Golf balls soon changed from smooth surfaces to the current dimpled pattern. Believe it or not, the ball with dimples can travel further than the old balls with smooth surfaces. Next, in 1889, golf tees were developed.

Now, as I did research for this piece, I found some claims that others across Europe may have lead the Scots to develop the game of golf. But, there is no doubt that golfers in Scotland put the hole in the ground and made the objective of golf to get the ball in that hole! As for early golf in the North America, the Dutch banned playing golf on the streets of Albany, NY back in 1659.

Then, it was in 1893 that the first 18 hole golf course in the United States was established near Wheaton, Illinois. The first golf course on Long Island was Shinnecock Hills which was built in 1891, but it originally was not 18 holes. Then in 1899, Belleair County Club was opened on the West Coast of Florida near Clearwater. Golf was certainly on the way to becoming a popular sport.

It is interesting to note that more than 25 million people in the United States play golf more than ten times a year, and around the globe there are now over 50 million golfers!

One of the challenges found in golf is the time required to play 18 holes. And it is not just the time on the course. First, a golfer has to get to the course and get ready to tee off. That can be around 40 minutes depending on how close a golfer lives. Then, it is three hours and forty minutes to play the 18 holes. After golf, there is almost always a snack with fellow golfers. Then, there is the drive home. Add it all up, and you can spend over five hours to get in 18 holes. That is considerable time away from family.

An alternative is to play only nine holes. I have found that to be a great way to get in the play of golf while not missing family responsibilities. As I have played golf over the years, I have found the game relaxing and a great way to socialize with friends. The latest positive which I recently discovered is golf with your spouse. We call it “best ball.” From the tee off, each partner hits the best ball. It makes the game move along well, and it is great to have my wife as a partner, even on the golf course!

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