Golf History FAQ

Golf illustration from 1895
Culture Club/Getty Images

Welcome to the Golf History FAQ. Here we've gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about golf history, and attempted to answer them.

You can also find many more questions about golf history answered in other FAQs here, so visit the Golf FAQs index, plus the Golf Records index, for much more.

Most Popular Golf History FAQs

When and where did golf begin?
Can we pinpoint when and where golf began? And who invented it?

What is the origin of the word "golf"? Does it stand for "gentleman only, ladies forbidden"?
This is an old legend that is still heard today. Let's explore why.

What are the names of the old golf clubs and what do they mean?
From the mashie to the niblick to the jigger to the spoon.

When were the first rules written, and what were they?
Take a look at the 13 original rules of golf. Some of them will be familiar.

Why are golf courses 18 holes in length?
Why not 22? Or 15? Like so many things in golf history, this goes back to St. Andrews.

What did golfers use for tees before modern tees were invented?
The wooden, peg tee is a relatively recent invention. Here's how golfers teed up in "the old days."

How much have green speeds increased in golf?
Yes, we can quantify how much faster greens have gotten over the years. And we speculate about why.

More Q&As About Golf History

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... and More Golf History FAQs

What Was the 'Great Triumvirate'?
"Great Triumvirate" is a monicker bestowed upon the three greatest golfers of the late 19th/early 20th century period who dominated golf in Great Britain. All three were British; one was a Scot, one English, and the third born in the Channel Islands. The Great Triumvirate consisted of:

  • James Braid: 5 British Open wins between 1901 and 1910
  • J.H. Taylor: 5 British Open wins between 1894 and 1913
  • Harry Vardon: 6 British Open wins between 1896 and 1914

So in the 21 Open Championships played from 1894 through 1914, members of the "Great Triumvirate" combined to win 16 of them. Vardon also added one victory in the U.S. Open.

Why Are Hole Liners White?
On putting greens, each hole has a hole liner, or "cup," inside it, usually plastic but sometimes metal. These hole liners are almost invariably white in color. The reason has to do with television.

The greatest innovator in televised golf was Frank Chirkinian, who for decades was the producer of golf telecasts for the American network CBS. According to Golf Digest, at some point in the "early 1960s" Chirkinian started asking the grounds crew at golf courses from which CBS broadcast to paint their hole liners white.

The reason was to make the hole stand out on television - helping viewers more easily spot the hole on the green during the telecast. And painting the hole liners white worked at that job. It also made the hole easier to see for golfers, too, and eventually all hole liners, or cups, where either manufactured white or painted white.

Tournament-Specific History Questions
If you're looking for answers to questions about the history of golf majors and other important events, try these pages: