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Evidence suggests that the game of golf was played as early as 1354. Though unlike our current understanding of golf, this earliest version was modeled more in the style of hockey. This form of golf is suggested to have appeared in Flanders (versus most attributing golf to Scotland).
In 1421 it is noted that three individuals brought golf to Scotland. Hugh Kennedy, Robert Steward, and John Smale are identified and credited with this honor.
However, because golf threatened the skill and sport of archery, in 1457 the Scots Parliament of James II banned it (along with the European version of football) on certain days of the week. Gowf (as it was known) could no longer be played on Sundays since, even way back when, it interfered with military training. Scotland was at war, on and off, with the English, and soldiers apparently were skipping military practice for a quick game.
This Sunday ban stayed in place, and in fact was "reaffirmed" by the next two monarchs all the way up to the early 1500s. However, finally, when the Scottish and English signed the Treaty of Glasgow in 1502, the ban on golf was lifted. It is interesting to note that upon the lifting of that ban, James IV is reported to have made the first purchase of golf equipment - a set of golf clubs.
Though golf remained mostly a game for the elite, by 1527 the common man took up the game. Sir Robert Maule is attributed as the first "commoner" to play a round of golf on Barry Links, Angus.
The first female golfer is said to have been Mary Queen of Scots. Her first golf game was played in 1567 shortly after the death of her husband.
Even way back when, nothing inferred with that round of golf. In 1641, Charles I while playing a round of golf at Leith, received word of the Irish rebellion (which marked the beginning of the English Civil War). True to form, he finishes his game before heading off to plan his military strategy.
Fast forward to the New World. Apparently, it did not take long for golf to become popular. As early as 1656 it was necessary to enact a law banning the playing of golf from the streets of Albany, New York. You just can't keep a good golfer down.
To round out this early history of golf and bring us to the end of the 1700s, it is worth noting that in 1767, James Durham scored a 94 in his round of golf at St. Andrews during the Silver Cup competition. This record remained unbroken for 86 years!
I hope you enjoyed this early look at golf.
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