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On the European continent the first golf course was laid in France at Pau in The French golf federation, the Union des Golfs de France, was inaugurated in In Switzerland the first golf course, in Davos, was planned in by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle , who after its completion was annoyed by the fact that cows enjoyed chewing up the red flags that marked the greens. How the ball is hit and directed is the essence of golf.
For many years golf balls were made from wood, but in the early 17th century feather balls were introduced and were hailed as an advance. For stuffing in the feathers a wooden tool was first used, after which the stuffing iron had to complete the job. When the leather case was crammed beyond increase, the hole was stitched up and the case left to dry; then the ball was hammered and made as round as possible and painted white. The whole process was so slow that the maker did well to finish four balls in a day, so that they cost as much as five shillings each.
Although the feathery could be hit a long way, it became sodden and disabled in wet weather and was destroyed by hacks from iron clubs, and thus the balls were short-lived as well as expensive. Gutta-percha , the evaporated milky juice or latex of various South American and South Pacific island trees especially those of Malaysia , is soft and impressible at the temperature of boiling water but becomes hard and nonbrittle and retains its shape when cooled. It is not affected by water except at boiling temperature.
In the mids it was discovered to be a substance ideal for the easy and efficient manufacture of golf balls; the manufacturing process consisted simply of boiling a strip of gutta-percha, molding it into a spherical shape, and allowing it to dry. The first prototypes were smooth as billiard balls; they were difficult to get airborne and tended to duck drop quickly in flight. It was soon discovered that ball flight improved tremendously once the ball acquired the nicks, cuts, and scuff marks that resulted from a round of play.
Ball makers learned to mold balls with raised or indented surface patterns, thus ensuring proper flight. The emergence of the gutta-percha in brought about a revolutionary change in the game. The professionals had divided views, however. At St. Andrews in , after the death of Robertson. The ball was heartily welcomed by the golf community , not least for its economy cost: one shilling each , and its coming immediately swelled the golfing ranks.
The beginning of the 20th century introduced a new ball and a new era. Work of the B. Goodrich Company—involved a tension-wound rubber thread around a solid rubber core. The new design allowed for a ball that flew and rolled farther than a gutty; it was also easier to hit and gave its striker a greater sense of power. Older men found it easier to play, and hosts of women and children were drawn into the game.
Early concerns as to the controllability of the rubber ball were quelled when the U. Amateur and the U. Open and Open Championship British Open were won by players using the Haskell ball, defeating opponents playing gutties. The Spalding company introduced a ball covered with balata , a natural rubber, in ; it proved more durable and easier to control than gutta-percha.
Length was the lure, and the trade race upset the design of courses. Championship and other tees had to be sited farther back. Another factor that greatly increased the popularity and playability of golf was the introduction of the golf tee, patented in by George F. Grant, one of the first African American golfers. Previously players forged a tee from a pinch of wet sand or used other early tees made from cardboard, rubber, or steel. For two years the USGA tried a ball which weighed 1.
This larger-sized American ball was ruled mandatory by the British Professional Golf Association in and replaced the smaller ball throughout the world by By the turn of the 21st century, golf balls still conformed to the above standards, although a host of new designs were available. Experiments in the size, depth, and arrangement of dimples have also produced balls with longer flight and a higher degree of backspin. Modern golf balls can have anywhere from to dimples arranged in sophisticated patterns, such as multiple triangular or pentagonal groups.
A major challenge for ball manufacturers is to produce improved products that still conform to USGA standards. Nevertheless, ball makers have great flexibility in terms of materials used, dimple patterns, and size and weight providing this design conforms to the standards of size and weight and are free to design any ball that takes advantage of such leeway.
Early specimens of clubs with lead-alloy shells, as described by Pieter van Afferden in the 16th century see above , came to light in when the Dutch East Indiaman Kennemerland , sunk off the Shetland Islands in , was excavated. Previously the oldest clubs known were discovered in a house in Hull, England, along with a newspaper carrying a date of In the British Golf Museum at St.
Andrews there are specimens of ancient clubs including two woods and an especially notable putting cleek—i. The club makers of outstanding repute in the early 19th century were Hugh Philip at St. Andrews and the McEwan brothers of Musselburgh, notably Douglas, whose clubs were described as models of symmetry and shape. The hickory shafts of the woods—the play club modern driver , the spoons, and the brassie—had been spliced to heads of apple or beech faced with horn.
The harder rubber ball, however, brought about the use of persimmon wood and, later, laminated club heads. Hard insets appeared in the faces. Increased demand led to the adaptation of shoe-last machine tools for the fashioning of wooden club heads. Sockets were bored in the club heads, and shafts were inserted rather than spliced.
Drop-forging completely replaced hand forging in the fashioning of iron clubs, and faces were deepened to accommodate the livelier ball and were machine-lined to increase the spin on the ball in flight. Composition materials were developed as an alternative to leather in grips, and the grip foundations were molded in so many ways that they were regulated in This principle has been invoked many times since then.
Improvement of the shaft was accompanied by the general introduction of numbered, rather than named, clubs and by the merchandising of matched sets rather than individual clubs. Clubs had become more numerous and more finely graduated than the names that traditionally had been applied to them brassie, spoon, niblick, mashie, etc.
The merchandising opportunities inherent in the numbered and matched sets were carried to an extreme, and in the USGA limited the number of clubs a player might use in a round to Experiments with steel shafts went through several phases. In the s aluminum shafts had a brief spurt of popularity; shafts of fibreglass, graphite, and titanium were introduced into the game in the decades thereafter. The stainless-steel club heads of the s gave way to titanium a lightweight, extremely hard metal heads in the s.
Virtually all touring professionals used them, and the term metals was gradually replacing woods in golf parlance. There is no doubt that the development of golf as an organized sport was distinctly British, and Britain produced the first great players of the game. As the early golfing associations, or clubs, became established in Scotland and then England, there emerged a group of professionals who made golf balls, fashioned and repaired clubs, laid out and maintained courses, and gave lessons.
Many of them were outstanding golfers and would take on all comers in the popular stakes money matches of the day. Allan Robertson of St. Andrews, for example, was regarded as the greatest golfer of his time and, according to legend , was never beaten in a stakes match played on even terms that is, without giving his opponent a handicap.
The British professionals and their amateur counterparts represented the best golf in the world from the second half of the 19th century, when the sport began to gain some world prominence, up to about the s, when American players began to excel. With the tremendous increases in financial rewards to be gained in golf during the latter half of the 20th century, especially on the U. For professionals the coveted Grand Slam tournaments are the Masters , the U.
Their hope, however, was badly disappointed, and the offer of support was so meagre that Prestwick decided to go it alone and spent 30 guineas on the ornamental challenge belt to be awarded to the champion. In the absence of a prize, there was no championship in ; but the next year a cup, which has been in competition ever since, was put up.
At the end of the 19th century, England was producing great players. This body is responsible for professional tournaments in Great Britain and for the biennial Ryder Cup match for professionals when it is played there. Hutchinson, John Ball who won it eight times , J. Laidlay, and H. She won the U. The first official U. Walter J. Travis was the first great American golfer.
He proved his ability as a golfer by winning the U. Amateur —03 and the British Amateur , the only year he entered this event titles. Jerome D. Travers, the next great American champion, was a player with indomitable courage and nerve that rarely failed him.
He won the U. Amateur Championship —08, —13 and the U. Open title American golfers virtually monopolized the Open Championship in Britain until the mids. From the s into the s American teams dominated the Walker Cup and Ryder Cup matches, as American women golfers did the Curtis Cup tournament from its inception in the s. American golfers had begun to show their prowess in , when Francis Ouimet became a national hero by defeating Vardon and Edward Ray, two of the best British professionals, for the U.
Open and Amateur in the same year But Bobby Jones has been regarded as the greatest amateur golfer of modern times. His career was brilliant from his debut in national competition in the U. Amateur, and the U. The popular appeal of the U. Amateur Championship has been seriously weakened by departures to the professional ranks, however, and it has become exceptional for an Amateur champion to resist the lure of tournament money. In the late s the professional circuit, underwritten by civic and club organizations throughout the country, began putting up major prize money for the experts.
His record of 11 major tournament victories ranks second on the all-time list. Sarazen attained a career Grand Slam; that is, he won the U. It should be noted that when Bobby Jones won a Grand Slam during the season, the four tournaments that constituted the Grand Slam were different; the British Amateur and U. Equally dominant was Hogan, who in many ways was the polar opposite of Snead. Critically injured in an auto accident in , Hogan was not expected to walk, let alone play golf, again, but he adhered to a rigorous exercise program and returned to the game within a year.
His fragile legs allowed him to play only a limited schedule, but many feel that Hogan played his best golf after his comeback. In he became the first player to win three major tournaments the Masters, the U. Open, and the Open Championship [British Open] within a single season.
The catalyst for this was Arnold Palmer. Handsome, charismatic , and possessing an exciting, go-for-broke style of play, Palmer was the perfect star for the new age of television coverage in golf. His popularity was such that many resented the arrival of the comparatively dour Jack Nicklaus , who turned professional in and was soon to dominate the game.
In time, however, Nicklaus captured the hearts of golf fans throughout the world and came to be regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. A career Grand Slam winner, Nicklaus holds the all-time record of 18 victories in the major professional tournaments. He achieved his final major victory at age 46 in the Masters, regarded as one of the most memorable and emotional moments in golf history.
The inconceivable happened in with the emergence of Tiger Woods. Heavily touted in the press for years as a child prodigy he is reported to have shot 48 for nine holes at age three , Woods at age 21 fulfilled his promise by winning the Masters with a record score of and by a record margin of 12 strokes. At his young age he was already one of the most powerful and disciplined players in golf history, his game exhibiting no weaknesses in any area. Woods went on to achieve within the next four years what many top golfers can only dream of accomplishing within a lifetime.
At age 24 he utterly dominated the U. Open and Open Championship British Open tournaments of and became the youngest player to achieve a career Grand Slam. He scored his second Masters victory in , thus becoming the first to hold all four major professional titles simultaneously, an accomplishment regarded as one of the great feats in the history of professional sports.
That he is of African American and Asian descent is also significant in that, within a few short years, he almost single-handedly transformed a game that once seemed the domain of white males into one that is now enjoyed by all ethnic groups. It was not until the s that efforts began in earnest to form a professional golf organization for women.
But rules still varied widely. In the s, players in Aberdeen had 22 rules while those in Crail had only six. Like the rules, the number of holes on a course varied. Leith and Bruntsfield were normally five-hole courses, while St Andrews originally had 11 to form a hole round.
Golfers followed customs probably familiar to them from other sports. They wore military-style uniforms and betted on matches. After the matches, societies held business meetings followed by long meals, held in local taverns. Golf and socialising went together. He established his court at the Royal Palace at Greenwich, London, and reputedly played golf at nearby Blackheath. In the 18th century, golf was played informally throughout the British Empire by military men, civil servants and merchants.
In , the first golf club outside Britain was founded at Calcutta, India, and by the s there were clubs in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The first European golf club was founded in at Pau in France, a popular resort for European aristocracy, and the next thirty-two years later at Antwerp in Belgium. The game then began to spread throughout Europe in the s. Golf was first played in the American colonies in the 18th century but died out early in the 19th century. It rapidly spread throughout the United States; by the end of the century there were around 1, golf clubs.
In , Prestwick Golf Club decided to hold a tournament for professionals; men who earned their living as club and ballmakers, greenkeepers or by giving lessons to members. What is now recognised as the first Open Championship was held on 17th October and won by Willie Park of Musselburgh, who defeated seven fellow professionals over 36 holes in a single day. Known as the Great Triumvirate, they won 16 of the 21 Opens between and , which included a still-unsurpassed six Open victories by Vardon.
Challengers since include five-time winners Peter Thomson and Tom Watson, who just missed his chance of a sixth Open victory at Turnberry in , aged The first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in Athens in Golf made its debut in at the Paris Games. Golf was one of the few sports women were permitted to compete in; the others were croquet, sailing and tennis. Following the St. Louis Games, where seventy-two Americans and three Canadians contested the golf competition, London hosted the Olympic Games.
Debate raged in the press, however, as to whether golf should be included or who should run it. Despite advanced arrangements, the British Olympic Association cancelled the golfing events two days before they were due to begin. It appeared that many British golfers had incorrectly filled in their entry forms.
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