History of Golf and Golf Equipment

Golf originated during the 15th century

Asian woman golfer action to win after long putting golf ball on the green

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Golf originated from a game played on the coast of Scotland during the 15th century. Golfers would hit a pebble instead of a ball around the sand dunes using a stick or club. After 1750, golf evolved into the sport as we recognize it today. In 1774, Edinburgh golfers wrote the first standardized rules for the game of golf.

Invention of Golf Balls

Golfers soon tired of hitting pebbles and tried other things. The earliest man-made golf balls included thin leather bags stuffed with feathers (they did not fly very far).

The gutta-percha ball was invented in 1848 by Reverend Adam Paterson. Made from the sap of the Gutta tree, this ball could be hit a maximum distance of 225 yards and was very similar to its modern counterpart.

In 1898, Coburn Haskell introduced the first one-piece rubber core; when professionally hit these balls reached distances approaching 430 yards.

According to "The Dimpled Golf Ball" by Vincent Mallette, balls were smooth during the early days of golf. Players noticed that as balls became old and scarred, they traveled farther. After a while players would take new balls and intentionally pit them.

In 1905, golf ball manufacturer William Taylor was the first to add the dimple pattern using the Coburn Haskell ball. Golf balls had now taken on their modern form.

Evolution of Golf Clubs

Golf clubs have evolved from wooden shaft clubs to today's sets of woods and irons with durability, weight distribution, and graduation utility. The evolution of clubs went hand-in-hand with the evolution of golf balls that were able to withstand harder whacks.

History of Carrying and Caddies

During the 1880s, golf bags first came into use. "The beast of burden" is an old nickname for the caddie who carried golfers' equipment for them. The first powered golf car appeared around 1962 and was invented by Merlin L. Halvorson.

Invention of Golf Tees

The word "tee" as it relates to the game of golf originated as the name for the area where a golfer played. In 1889, the first documented portable golf tee was patented by Scottish golfers William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas. This golf tee was made from rubber and had three vertical rubber prongs that held the ball in place. However, it lay on the ground and did not pierce the ground like modern golf tees.

In 1892, a British patent was granted to Percy Ellis for his "Perfectum" tee that did pierce the ground. It was a rubber tee with a metal spike. The 1897 "Victor" tee was similar and included a cup-shaped top to better hold the golf ball. The Vicktor was patented by Scotsmen PM Matthews.

American patents for golf tees include the first American patent issued to Scotsmen David Dalziel in 1895, the 1895 patent issued to American Prosper Senat, and the 1899 patent for an improved golf tee issued to George Grant.

Rules of the Game

In 1774, the first standardized rules of golf were written and used for the first golf championship, which was won by Doctor John Rattray on 2nd April 1744 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

  1. You must tee your ball within one club's length of the hole.
  2. Your tee must be on the ground.
  3. You are not to change the ball which you strike off the tee.
  4. You are not to remove stones, bones or any break club for the sake of playing your ball, except on the fair green, and that only within a club's length of your ball.
  5. If your ball comes among water, or any watery filth, you are at liberty to take out your ball and bringing it behind the hazard and teeing it, you may play it with any club and allow your adversary a stroke for so getting out your ball.
  6. If your balls be found anywhere touching one another you are to lift the first ball till you play the last.
  7. At holeing you are to play your ball honestly for the hole, and not to play upon your adversary's ball, not lying in your way to the hole.
  8. If you should lose your ball, by its being taken up, or any other way, you are to go back to the spot where you struck last and drop another ball and allow your adversary a stroke for the misfortune.
  9. No man at holeing his ball is to be allowed to mark his way to the hold with his club or anything else.
  10. If a ball be stopp'd by any person, horse or dog, or anything else, the ball so stopp'd must be played where it lyes.
  11. If you draw your club in order to strike and proceed so far in the stroke as to be bringing down your club; if then your club shall break in any way, it is to be accounted a stroke.
  12. He whose ball lyes farthest from the hole is obliged to play first.
  13. Neither trench, ditch or dyke made for the preservation of the links, nor the Scholar's Holes or the soldier's lines shall be accounted a hazard but the ball is to be taken out, teed and play'd with any iron club.