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History of Sports, Part V: Golf

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The gentlemen's gameGolf is one of the oldest sports that are still being played around the world today. Known as a gentleman's game, it has gone from being played exclusively in rich people country clubs to one of the most popular sports in the world. So without further ado, here is a short history on golf.

Golf has been around for centuries, and is one of the oldest sports in existence. One of the earliest recordings of a golf-like game being played was in 1297 in the Netherlands, where the object of the game was to get a leather ball to a spot in the field with the least amount of strokes. There was also an instance of a game played in China that closely resembles golf, which was played 500 years before it was ever played in Scotland. But the modern golf game was started in Scotland, and it eventually spread to the rest of the United Kingdom and America in the 19th century.

One of the earliest mentions of golf was in a 1497 Act of the Scottish Parliament that actually banned and football from being played, because they took away from archery practices for the military. It was banned a few more times throughout the century for various reasons, but the rich always seemed to find a way to play the game they themselves had banned for the commoners. That is the basic reason why it became a "gentleman's game". Golf was banned again by the Scottish parliament under King James VI of Scotland, but golf clubs and balls were bought for him in 1502 when he was visiting other cities like Perth.

The boom in golf, like some other games, came about by the addition of the railway throughout the United Kingdom. By the 1860s, it was easy to get from London to Edinburgh, so tourism in Scotland increased, and so did the interest in each others culture and games. With the increase in interest in Scotland came the fascination with the sport of golf. Golf was brought back to England, and the English began creating their own courses. In little more than 20 years, England had 50 courses, which quickly increased to over a thousand in the early 1900s. After the game's integration into England, it spread much more rapidly, and by the late 19th century, there were leagues set up all around the world. However, these were mostly used by British nobles and expatriates so they would have a sense of home in a foreign land.

Among the earliest instances of golf in the United States was in an advertisement for golf club and balls in the New York City Gazette in 1779, but the game wasn't truly established until the late 19th century. The first golf association was created in 1894, called the United States Golf Association (USGA). By 1910, there were already 267 clubs in existence, and in just over a century, there are now over 9700 clubs affiliated with the USGA.

Golf may be boring to watch for some, but it is a very fun and relaxing game to play. It's no wonder it has expanded to such great popularity over the years, and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.

Author of this article: Mohammad Rizvi
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