A brief golf history lesson by Danny Divot

Published On: Mar 26 2012 10:34:45 AM EDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2012 11:22:51 AM EDT
generic golf ball

Hey Guys! 

Did you know that the game of golf can be traced back to the Roman era? However, the modern game of golf originated in 15th century Scotland.  That’s a really long time to be chasing around a little white ball! 

In fact, the first golf balls were said to have been little leather pouches filled with feathers – I can’t imagine those flying very far! 

Those leather pouches last two centuries but in 1848, Dr Robert Adams Paterson invented a smooth ball made from tree sap.  The smooth balls actually fought the air creating little lift and the balls didn’t go very far.  However, people soon started discovering that their balls went further when they were dented and worn.

Makers then began hammering imperfections into the balls which began the evolution of the dimpled golf ball. 

Did you ever wonder about the terminology in golf? 

Well, let’s begin by explaining some of the basic terms.  But first, let’s get really basic… the first thing in golf to understand is that unlike most sports, in golf the lower the score the better.

Par – the number of strokes that is recommended to complete the hole.

Birdie – a score of one under par for the hole(example a score of 3 on a par 4)

Eagle- a score of two under par for the hole (i.e. a score of 3 on a par 5)

Bogey-   a score of one over on a par for the hole (i.e. a score of 5 on a par 4)

Well, in the 1900’s, the term “bird” meant something excellent or great.  A golfer in 1899 was heard saying, "That was a bird of a shot" when his ball landed 6 inches from the hole. 

From then on, his fellow golfers called every score one under par a "birdie." 

The term "eagle" came into play shortly after as one better than a "bird." 

The term "albatross" is an old English term that refers to a double eagle meaning you scored three under on a single hole!  For example a score of a 2 on a par 5; it’s an amazing score and doesn’t happen very often! 

Bogey (which means one shot over par) comes from an old Scottish song about the Bogey man who hide in the shadows; “I’m the Bogey man catch me if you can.”  Golfers in Scotland and England equated the song about the elusive "Bogey man" with the quest for the perfect score. 

So there you go, you are now smarter than the average golfer about the history of the game and where some of the terms came from – now go dazzle your parents!

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