21 June 2005

Yesterday, I discovered that the Scottish were worth more than poems about the moors and assorted amusing stereotypes. Assuming that the Mesopotamians didn't hit a tiny ball with a stick at some point (yeah, that's not likely), I guess we owe the fourth American pasttime (after baseball, football, and basketball--sorry to all you swimmers) to our brrrrethrrren across the Atlantic. And what a good pasttime it is. Aside from providing more euphemisms than any other sport, watching a tiny ball soar through the air as the result of a swing--your swing--is just very, very cool. I discovered this coolness two days ago at the driving range, playing for the first time since going through what I affectionately refer to as my second puberty. Or whatever it was that resulted in my chest and shoulders finally filling out (yes! all those trips to GNC for mega-triple-X-super-ripped-my-clothes-sorry finally paid off).

As a tribute to my new love for golf, which I expect to last until I try my hand at the short game, I've decided to inform my readers of the history of the game, so that they, too, can grow to love it. I found some FAQs online that were most helpful for this purpose, so I kept the questions (they are all real, surprisingly), but the answers were boring, so I felt I should make it more interesting (if marginally less true):

When and where did golf begin?

Contrary to popular belief, golf began in North America. One day in the late 1500s, a group of conquistadors approached members of one of the tribes with an assortment of clubs of varying sizes. After all the killing, they decided to try a game one of them thought of called "gulf." The word embodied the concern about the growing generation gap between the older and younger generations, and the mistaken belief that the game would help bridge that "gulf." Clearly, the Spanish were abstract thinkers well before Picasso arrived. Several of the more enterprising men started a resort in the land they had referred to as "Maxico," which was the name of the large multinational conglomerate started near the present day Yucatan Peninsula that made "feminine napkins." The resort was called "Gulf of Maxico," and is still known by the name today with a minor spelling change. Of course, it is now a body of water because of the large meteor that struck a few years later. This was the same meteor that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. The insurance policy on the resort funded the Spanish empire for the next century. The Flintstones provides a surprisingly accurate record of how the game was played in those days.

Why are golf courses 18 holes in length?

Interesting question. Golf was originally designed as a rite of passage for men, and a quote from two ancient letters discussing the game which state that "a real man can get it up and down and into the hole 18 times without losing stamina." Another states that "18 makes it legal." However, scholars still debate if either source had anything to do with golf, though they aren't sure what else the quotes could possible refer to.

What is the oldest public golf course in the U.S.?

Probably a parking lot by now.

Why do golfers yell "fore" to warn others of an errant shot?

Because it's less incriminating than yelling "hey, dodge this."

What is the origin of the term "Mulligan"?

It's a phonetic shortening of the phrase used by golfers when playing very poorly: "This sucks. Mall again? Sure, let's go. I hear there's a sale at Abercrombie."

When was the first golf tournament televised?

Sometime after television was invented, I think.

Why is the golf hole the size that it is?

You're kidding, right? Maybe you need to read Goldilocks and the Three Bears again. By the way, the real answer, in short, according to this website is: "But it was almost certainly a completely arbitrary thing..." Gee, thanks.

When were the first rules written, and what were they?

The first rules were written A Long Time Ago, and were called the Ten Commandments. As far as I know, they had little to do with golf, unless, for example, you kill someone on the 15th green, which is a big no-no (wait for the 16th). Or if you're doing anything covetous out there.

What is the origin of the Big Bertha brand of drivers?

Let's just say someone slept on the couch that night.


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