Yesterday saw the tee off of The Masters – regarded as Golf’s biggest non-team tournament (the Ryder Cup comes close for rivalry as a team event). But who first thought of bashing a small white ball around some attractive countryside? Who made up some rules? And who codified it into the international leviathan of a sport we know today?
Not too many golf fans have considered those questions, but just in case you have, we’ve done some digging and come up with this quick introduction to the History of Golf…
There’s some debate over the origins of golf. The modern game is generally regarded as having its roots in 15th Century Scotland, but the Dutch claim to have been playing a game with similar objectives – called Colf or Kolf – since the 13th Century. What is fairly certain is that it was the Scottish who developed the rules of golf into what we see as familiar today. The first written down mention of Gowf (as the Celts called it – adapted from the Dutch Kolf or Colf) was not a positive one. It was mentioned alongside Football in an Act of Parliament in 1457, in which James II banned the playing of both games – in preference of a more militarily focussed Archery practice. Subsequent acts of parliament banned it again in 1471 & 1491 – which implies the Scot’s were hooked – because it didn’t seem to stop them!
But playing [largely] without any rules means disorganisation, the potential for lots of cheating and conflict. There may have been written rules before, but like many codified sports the oldest surviving documents were made in the UK – and for Golf they date back to 1744. Known as the Leith Rules – they were put together by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers who played at the Leith Links – their full title is the Articles and Laws in playing Golf. They’re now looked after by the National Library of Scotland, but you can get a small glimpse on their website.
Pro-Golfers are lucky enough to have a Caddy of course. Someone to carry their clubs and equipment, discuss tactics, provide advice and generally be there as a pillar of support – especially when things aren’t going so well. The rest of us have to lug our clubs round ourselves (or use one of those natty electric golf trolleys – the latest ones will even follow your smart phone like a faithful puppy!).
But what of the origin of Caddies? Well, whilst it is likely that having someone to carry the gear was commonplace almost from day 1, the word Caddy to describe them made a relatively late appearance. Although there is a myth that it was Mar Queen of Scots that came up with the name – this has largely been discounted as the French did not play, consensus then swung towards it simply being an adaptation of Franco-Scottish word in wider use in Scotland – Cady, Caddy, Cadie or Caddie (which all sound great if you give them a Celtic lilt) during the 18th Century. Only by 1857 had it come to mean – more specifically – a golf club carrying assistant.
Golf (along with many other sports) means equipment that you’ll need storage for – apart from the boot of the car – to keep the clubs, bag and wheels when we’re not on the Fairways. If space is tight in your flat and your golf gear is like an unwelcome in-law sitting in the corner of the room, then a storage unit with us could be the answer. You can use it to store all your sports equipment, not just the golf stuff. So whether you cycle, climb, camp, canoe, ski, snowboard, cycle, scuba, snorkel, samba, or surf (or even several of them) our storage space will provide a home for all your gear.
If you’re in to your Golf and prefer to watch it as much as go and play, enjoy The Masters.