History of Golf - Part Three The 18th and 19th Centuries

By George WhiteJuly 10, 2002, 4:00 pm
The sport of golf, which seemed like such a staple in Britain in the 1600s and early 1700s, slowly faded in the latter 1700s. The Industrial Revolution was about to blossom, towns were expanding, and the old links were quickly being gobbled up for more industrious pursuits.
Town centers decayed, along with town finances. Epidemics swept through the countryside and many old courses were turned into burial plots. Men slowly migrated to the numerous factories that were constantly springing up, working many overtime hours. Sundays were the only off-days, a time just long enough to rest from the back-breaking work and get ready for Mondays.
The sport might well have died altogether were not for the Freemasons. Their enthusiasm alone virtually sustained the game from extinction. For about 100 years, from 1750 to 1850, they played the game with regularity. Golfing societies slowly formed, which were mostly members of the Freemasons. Royalty played very little or none at all during this period, but golf was kept alive by the Freemason groups.
Edinburgh, Scotland, claimed the first golfing society. The Gentlemen Golfers ' later known as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and today in residence at Muirfield ' claim their club was already under way in 1744, when they petitioned the city of Edinburgh for a silver club for annual competition on the Links at Leith. Leith was a port town only a short distance from Edinburgh. This was followed in 1754 by the gentlemen of St. Andrews, Scotland, banding together to form the St. Andrews Golf Club. St. Andrews is today known as the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh also puts forth a claim to have been the first golf club. They claim to have been in existence since l735, but those claims appear largely unsubstantiated. At any rate, the earliest golf societies seemed to be as preoccupied with dining as they were with golf. Numerous references in the early journals are made to dinners and not many to golf. Such would be the nature of the Freemasons, who were very big on pomp and circumstance and such fineries as meals served just so.
St. Andrews eventually became the traditional center of all golf, thanks partly to a publicity stunt. The Society of St. Andrews Golfers had an open competition ' everyone was invited, regardless if he were a member of the society or not. St. Andrews contributed a silver club to the winner. In a short time, St. Andrews became the premier golfing town. And in 1764, when the St. Andrews course finally settled on 18 holes (down from its previous 22), 18 became the accepted number for all golf courses.
With golf spreading across city boundaries and matches being played among competitors from several regions, written rules began to appear. The first such written set is for the Edinburgh competition by the Gentleman Golfers in 1744:
  1. You must Tee your Ball within a Clubs length of the Hole;
  2. Your Tee (area from which the ball was hit) must be on the ground;
  3. You are not to change the Ball which you Strike off the Tee before that hole is played out;
  4. You are not to remove any Stones, Bones any Break Club, for the sake of playing your Ball, except of the fair Green, & that only with one Clubs length of your Ball;
  5. If your Ball come among Watter or any Wattery filth, you are at liberty to take out your Ball & bringing it behind the hazard and teeing it, you may play it with any Club and allow your adversary a stroke;
  6. If your Balls be found anywhere touching one another you are to lift the first ball till you play the last;
  7. At holeing you are to play your Ball honestly for the hole, and not to play upon your adversarys ball, not lying in your way to the hole;
  8. If you shoud lose your Ball, by its being taken up or any other way you are to go back to the Spot, where you struck last, & drop another Ball. And allow your adversary a Stroke for the misfortune;
  9. No man at holeing his Ball is to be allowd to mark his way to the hole with his Club or anything else;
  10. If a Ball be stoppd by any person, horse or dog, or anything else, the Ball so stoppd must be played where it lyes;
  11. If you draw your Club, in order to strike & proceed so far in your stroke, as to be bringing down your Club; if then your Club shall break in any way, it is to be accounted a stroke;
  12. He whose Ball lyes farthest from the hole is obliged to play first;
  13. Neither Trench, Ditch or Dyke, made for the preservation of the Links, nor the Scholars Holes or the Soldiers Lines, Shall be accounted a hazard. But the ball is to be taken out Teed and playd with any Iron Club.
The Gentleman Golfers of Edinburgh were the first to exercise control of a links. They leased the Leith Links in 1787 at the rate of 37 pounds per year, primarily to control the cattle which grazed here. Others in town leased the links to pasture animals, and though the golfers were tolerant, they did not like the idea of unlimited numbers of cattle on their course.
About the year 1830, though, golf had reached its absolute low point. Interest in golf at Leith had ebbed. The Gentlemen Golfers ' later known as the Honorable Company of Golfers ' was about to drown in a sea of debts. The military invaded the links, and with it the town citizens followed, trampling the course, and now numerous sheep followed.
In 1834 the Edinburgh golf clubhouse was sold to pay off huge debts owed by the Gentleman Golfers. The town of St. Andrews sold its course in 1799 to, of all things, a rabbit breeder. Estimates were that only 20 rounds a day were played there on a good day. Golf also declined in the west coast of Scotland. The Glasgow Herald reported in 1854 that, We have lost one of the oldest of our Scotch games, viz. the Golf, which used to be regularly played upon the Green of Glasgow, not only by boys, but also by many of our first-class citizens.
The gents of wealth, however, kept the game alive during this period. They werent beholden to the factory hours. Almost single-handedly they ' many of which were Freemasons ' persisted in their games, even branching out to playing in the summers. Golf in Scotland had been largely a winter game, the summers devoted to crop-growing.
Along about 1850, though, the sport was on the rebound. Wages improved. The epidemics faded out. After 1850, the textile industries which abounded in Britain gave time off from work ' two weeks was the standard, as well as Saturday afternoons. The Victorian Age was on the horizon, a time in which morals were greatly improved. Health and attention to sobriety were now the watchwords.
Eventually, the golfers of St. Andrews were able to rescue their course back from the rabbit warrens. In 1821, James Cheape of Strathtryum bought the links and saved the Old Course for golf. The introduction of the gutta percha ball around 1850 took the place of the old featherie, making golf cheaper for all. Railroads were coming into being, making it much easier to get to outlying courses.
The invention of the mower was critical. Before, it was hardly possible to play in the summer on inland courses because the grass would grow to such unwieldy lengths. It was cut back, when possible, by scythes. In most areas, cattle and grazing sheep kept the terrain leveled enough in the winter so that balls were not lost. But by 1840, the lawnmower started appearing at courses.
The St. Andrews Society of Golfers reached royal status in 1834. Murray Belshes had approached King William IV asking him to be their patron. The King not only agreed, but permitted the Society to rename itself The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. St. Andrews has since become known as the Home of Golf, since the Edinburgh golfers had left Leith and had yet to re-establish itself. There was no challenge to the claims of St. Andrews.
From that time on, the authority of the Royal and Ancient has been undisputed, with the exception of North American where the United States Golf Association is the preeminent authority. It was time for yet another era in golf.
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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.