Golf started in cHarleston…honest

Golf started in cHarleston…honest

Joke? No. Typo? No. I will explain

Most people think that the game of golf, as we now know and love/hate it, arose in Scotland. It has certainly blossomed there over more than 500 years. James II asked his parliament in 1457 to prohibit “golfe” because he needed the young folk to practice their archery to prepare for war. A few decades later Henry VIII became the first recorded golf widower when he mislaid his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. I read that the first golf club was the Honorable company of Edinburgh Golfers, which was formed in 1744 in Leith. It eventually led to the formation of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which has dominated the game ever since.

But the roots may lie deeper. Folks had been beating things around haphazardly for eons before all that. Bored Roman shepherds apparently smacked stones with their crooks. Sheep continued to play a role, their sheltering places being the origins of bunkers.

Sheep also acted as mowers in many courses, including the one where I first played (Herefordshire Golf Club at Wormsley).

Other claimants to golf’s origin include China, Persia, France and Belgium, but most likely Holland. The Dutch played a game called kolf, often on ice, when it was called kolven. Note that the Dutch name for a hole is “put” and “stuit mij” translates to stymie.

For those wishing to delve deeper, I recommend a splendid comprehensive review (Gillmeister, Heiner , Moran, Francis and Goodner, John Ross. “Golf”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 Jan. 2021, Accessed 23 April 2021).

Do they mention cHarleston? Yes, sort of. Actually it is Harleston in Charleston. Here is an excerpt.

The South Carolina and Georgia Almanac of 1793 published, under the heading “Societies Established in Charleston,” the following item: “Golf Club Formed 1786.” The Charleston City Gazette and Daily Advertiser of September 18, 1788, reported: “There is lately erected that pleasing and genteel amusement, the Kolf”. Later notices dated 1791 and 1794 referred to the South Carolina Golf Club, which celebrated an anniversary with a dinner on Harleston’s Green in the latter year. Although these fragments constitute the earliest clear evidence of golf clubs in the United States, the clubs appear to have been primarily social organizations that did not survive the War of 1812.

Another source states that “In 1786, Scottish merchants formed the first golf club in the United States, known as Harleston Green, in Charleston, SC”. I read that “Harleston Green’s membership fee was used to “maintain the green”, now called “green fees”.

Harleston was a section of the city right next door to the Medical University where I work! Pity it is no longer there. That would have been very convenient.

So, golf did start in cHarleston (at least in USA). Isn’t that interesting!

All part of life’s rich tapestry.