Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 17, 2011

Rodman Wanamaker

January 17, 1916: The US Professional Golfers’ Association [PGA] is formed by Rodman Wanamaker and seven others. The PGA was formed with former British PGA Secretary James Hepburn as head and elected an original 82 members to the fold. The PGA today is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida even though it began in New York City at the Taplow Club. The PGA claims to be the largest working sports organization with more than 28,000 members. There is a separate association for women, the LPGA. Tournaments have been run by PGA Tour since 1968.

The origins of golf are lost in the mists of time. There was a similar game played at the time of Caesar in ancient Rome. There are pictures of Dutchmen playing a comparable game on the frozen canals dated from the 1400s. The official beginnings of the game we know today were less auspicious.

King James II of Scotland on March 6, 1457 banned “ye golf” in order to encourage the practice of archery, a much more useful endeavor. His son, James III, followed in his footsteps and issued his own ban in 1471. The next generation, James IV, also banned the game in 1491. Something happened however, because the official records of expenditures show that James IV changed his mind. In 1502 the king paid a bow maker 14 shillings for golf clubs. The castle and capitol at the time were located in Perth and that is where the king played the game. Later records show that he purchased equipment in Edinburgh and at St. Andrews.

The first set of 13 written rules for the game dates from 1744. Of course, there must have already been rules or no one could play and know who won. At the time, courses varied in size with any number of holes. St. Andrews, the famous, oldest operating course issued a new set of rules in 1858 listing the number of holes at 18. The first British Open was played in 1860. The first permanent golf club in North America was founded in 1873 at Montreal, Canada. The British PGA was formed in 1901.

“Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.” – Dave Barry

“Golf is an exercise in Scottish pointlessness for people who are no longer able to throw telephone poles at each other.” – Florence King

“According to locker room lore, the name golf arose by default – all the other four-letter words had already been taken.” – George Peper

“Golf can best be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle.” – unknown

Also on this day:
Heading for the Hills in Minnesota – In 1950, the Great Brinks Robbery took place.
Popeye – In 1929, Popeye made his cartoon debut.


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