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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Who Invented Golf?

National Gallery of Art, Woodner Collection, gift of Andrea Woodner
The 117th edition of the U.S. Open begins today — but golf has been around much longer.
Scotland is often credited with inventing the game. A 1457 parliamentary resolution, which banned golf for distracting from military defense training, appears to be the first recorded reference.
But a German historian, Heiner Gillmeister, an author of the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry for golf, has argued that a version of the game was first played on continental Europe.
That game was likely the Dutch colf, which some scholars say influenced golf and was even played in the U.S. Hendrick Avercamp’s painting from 1626, “Winter Games on the Frozen River IJssel,” above, depicts the hockey-like game.
The Chinese, too, claim golf. Specifically, via chuiwan — literally “hit ball.” One museum exhibit asserted the game was played by emperors as early as the 12th century.
Whatever golf’s origins, editors of The Nation argued in 1894 that “the disappointments of the game are conducive to bad language.”
“A Scotsman, who was once singing its praises, admitted that it led to much profanity, and that he, being in the ministry, had had to give it up,” the editors wrote.
“‘What!’ said his friend, ‘give up golf!’ ‘No,’ said he, ‘the ministry.’”
Evan Gershkovich contributed reporting.

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