Some say that the game of golf dates back to ancient Roman times, when
boys played in the streets with a leather ball stuffed with feathers. Some
say the game began in Holland where people played a game on the frozen canals
using clubs called kolb, or kolf.
Others say golf was brought across the North Sea by the Dutch traders to
Scotland, were kolf evolved into golf, reports the Golf Trivia Web Site.
What is for certain, however, is that golf as we know it was first played
on the northwest shores of Scotland, perhaps as early as the 12th Century.
It got so popular that in 1456, King James II decided it was hurting his people's
archery practice, and so he decreed the game could no longer be played! The
ban was lifted in 1502, and King James IV played the first officially documented
match of golf on Feb. 3, 1504, with the Earl of Bothwell.
Since then, golf has become extremely popular. Everyone plays it now, from
construction workers to presidents, from children to seniors.
Golf is a complex game, but here's a short summary: Golf is played outdoors
on cultivated lands called links. To start, you set your golf ball on a little
peg called a tee. Then, you hit the ball using one of your golf clubs out
into the first stretch of grass, called the fairway.
You keep hitting the ball, using different clubs to get different results,
until you get to the end of the patch of grass, or green. Here, you'll try
to putt the ball into a little hole. The winner is the player who needs the
fewest hits, or strokes, to get the ball in the hole.
It's easy to get hooked on this game because it's not only fun, but challenging.
"I probably picked up a club less than 10 times in my whole life, but once
I decided I wanted to play, there was no stopping me," says Jessica Nicholas.
The California resident plays at least one game a week.
Some famous golf clubs include:
Pine Valley Golf Club in Pine Valley, New Jersey
Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York
There are various types of golf courses, differing in size. The most common
are the nine-hole golf courses, and the full-size, standard golf courses with
18 holes. There are also practice golfing facilities where people can practice
their putting and driving.
Then there are the pitch and putts, which are 18-hole courses where the
initial tee-off with the driver -- a big club with a mean whack -- is eliminated,
and the holes are a lot closer to the tee-off position.
Most golf courses are public, while some are private "country clubs."
Golf is a social game. While you compete against yourself, the course and
the other players, it's a friendly competition. Plus there's lots of time
to get to know each other.
"I've made some wonderful friendships on the golf course," says long-time
golfer Dan King.
There are 26.5 million golfers age 12 and over in the U.S., notes the National
Golf Foundation. About 5.6 million are considered "avid golfers," that is,
people who play 25 or more rounds a year. Women make up 22 percent (5.7 million)
of the U.S. golfer population.
There are more than 16,010 golf courses in the U.S., including regulation,
par-3 and executive length courses. The majority of these, about 11,300, are
open to the public, notes the National Golf Foundation. The five states that
have the most golf courses are Florida with 1,170, California with 942, Michigan
with 906, New York with 838, and Texas with 838.
How much people spend on golf depends on how often they golf. Avid golfers,
those who play 25 or more rounds of golf a year, spend an average of $1,710
a year on equipment, merchandise, and fees. Moderate golfers who play 8-24
rounds a year spend $719. The occasional golfer who plays less than eight
rounds a year spends only an average of $183.
The cost of "green fees," or how much you pay to use a golf course, varies
on the size, location, and prestige of the course. The median cost of a weekend
round of golf at an 18-hole municipal course is $27, including cart and green
You don't have to be a jock to golf. In fact, it's a perfect sport because
anyone can do it. You'll still get a workout from all that walking. Even if
you can't walk, there are courses which allow wheelchair access. All you have
to be able to do is aim well and swing a club.
"Golf is played over four-plus hours, but the actual activity is no more
than 10 minutes," says King. "The majority of the time is spent between [the]
golfing activity. This can be my favorite time -- walking to your ball, enjoying
the surroundings and the companionship, the grass below your feet, and the
wind blowing. Everything is so green and alive."
While players work on their golf game, the golf game also works on them.
Players say that in order to do well at golf, they have to be calm, patient
"Golf has taught me patience. I used to be fairly quick tempered, but I've
learned on the course that a temper will hurt your game. Golf is best when
you attempt to stay on a fairly even keel," says King. "You want to keep the
highs from being too high, and the lows from being too low. It is a sort of
Zen attitude, mixed with a little Tao."
Those who really like this game may be able to find a job related to it.
Players who are really good may find work as instructors, teaching people
how to golf. People who are extremely good at golf compete on the professional
Young people who have an interest and an ability in golf may be able to
get a free university education. Some schools offer scholarships to great
golfers. The golfer gets a free education, and the school gets a golf team
it can be proud of.
Since golf is such a big industry, there are plenty of other opportunities
as well. You may work at a golfing goods store or work for a sporting goods
manufacturer. Or, you may be inspired to become a writer.
"Because golf is a solitary affair, it leaves plenty of time for thought,"
observes King. "And all that time for thought has led many people to write
about the game. Some of the finest writers of this century were golf writers."
Those who want to get involved in this game should look no further than
their national youth golf association. These groups work hard to introduce
young people to the game of golf, and offer educational programs and tournaments.
Practice as much as you like. Try different courses, finding the public
ones by looking under Golf Courses -- Public in your local phone directory.
Before you arrive, check the golf club's dress code. Some clubs won't allow
golfers who are not dressed appropriately. Players are also advised to wear
a hat and sun block.
As far as equipment goes, you'll want to buy something used if you don't
have lots of money. Look in the classified ads and check out garage sales.
There's always an old set of clubs at a garage sale.
American Junior Golf Association
2415 Steeplechase Ln.
The United States Golf Association
P.O. Box 708
A golf database library, traveling tips for the golfer on the
move and links to great golf courses around the world
The home of the professional golf tour
Loads of golf links here
The World Golf Village
This golf-lover's resort features the Golf Hall of Fame