Golf clubs like the Springfield Golf Club pay homage to first golf clubs of the past. Golf is an ancient sport and has been around for longer than you may realize.
Golf Originated in Scotland
Although there have been many similar games throughout history, the game of golf as we know it today is generally considered to have originated in Scotland during the 15th century.
Sports like golf and football (soccer) were banned by the Scottish Parliament in 1457 as they were considered distractions from military archery training. In 1502 the ban was finally lifted and King James IV actually took up the sport himself.
By the 17th century, golf became a pastime in Great Britain and in 1860 the first British Open golf tournament was held.
As its popularity grew, the game of golf spread across the world. The first permanent golf club in North America was Canada’s Royal Montreal Club founded in 1873 (pictured above in 1882). The first 18-hole course in the United States was the Chicago Golf Club founded in 1893 and the first U.S. Open took place in 1895.
The first set of rules for golf were written down in 1744 and contained only 13 sentences.
The Etymology of ‘Golf’
It’s a common misconception that the word golf comes from being an acronym for the term, “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden” which is completely untrue.
Golf originates from an old Scots word goulf meaning “to strike or cuff” which derives from the medieval Dutch word kolf which means “club” or “bat.”
The first documented reference of the word golf was in Edinburgh on March 6, 1457, when King James II decreed that “ye golf should be utterly condemned and stopped.”
Although James II of Scotland spelled golf as we are familiar with it today, it is believed that the common term at the time was gowf and pronounced gouf, as it is found extensively written that way in other texts long after it was established as a sport.
By the 16th century, the term golf was the widely accepted term for the sport.
Early Golf Equipment
By the 1800s, golf was a popular yet still exclusive sport, partly due to the expensive, handcrafted equipment it required.
Club shafts were carved from hardwood such as ash, hazel, holly, beech, and apple. Club heads were made from wood or hand-forged iron and tied to shafts using leather straps.
The first golf balls were made out of wood and later replaced by featheries — leather balls that were tightly stuffed with goose or chicken feathers. The feathery was first referenced in the early 1600s and was the standard golf ball up until the mid-1800s.
In 1848 Robert Adams Paterson invented the first mass-producible golf ball called the guttie. Gutties were molded out of sap from sapodilla trees and could easily be remolded if they lost their shape.
Around this time it was also discovered that golf balls with etchings on them had more flight stability than smooth golf balls. This eventually lead to the surface indentations that we see on all modern golf balls.
In the late 1890s, gutties became obsolete as golf balls were made with a solid rubber core that was wound with rubber bands and had a skin of gutta-percha. By the 1960s, tree sap and rubber was replaced with synthetic resin cores and urethane skins.
Book your tee time at Springfield Golf Club and experience all the pleasures this historical sport has to offer.