Golfing History - Birth of Golf
Golf as we know it today, originated from a game played on the eastern coast of Scotland in the Kingdom of Fife during the 15th century. Players would hit a pebble around a natural course of sand dunes, rabbit runs and tracks using a stick or primitive club.
Some historians believe that Kolven from Holland and Chole from Belgium influenced the game. The latter was introduced into Scotland in 1421. However while these games and countless others are stick and ball games, they are missing that vital ingredient that is unique to golf - the hole. Whatever the argument, there can be no dispute that Scotland gave birth to the game we know as golf today.
During the mid-15th century, Scotland was preparing to defend itself against an English invasion. The population's enthusiastic pursuit of golf and soccer to the neglect of military training (archery primarily) caused the Scottish parliament of King James II to ban both sports in 1457. The ban was reaffirmed in 1470 and 1491 although people largely ignored it. Only in 1502 with the Treaty of Glasgow were the ban lifted with King James IV (James 1 of England) himself taking up the sport.
Golf's status and popularity quickly spread throughout the 16th century due to its royal endorsement. King Charles I popularized the game in England and Mary Queen of Scots, who was French, introduced the game to France while she studied there. Indeed the term 'caddie stems from the name given to her helpers who were the French Military, known in French as cadets.
The premier golf course of the time was Leith near Edinburgh. Indeed King Charles I was on the course when given the news of the Irish rebellion of 1641. Leith was also the scene of the first international golf match in 1682 when the Duke of York and George Patterson playing for Scotland beat two English noblemen.