Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The First Golf Club & Society

Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers



During 1744 the committee of the drew up the first 13 rules of golf. The purpose of these rules was to allow fair play for the competition of winning the silver golf club which was given to the winner by the City of Edinburgh, over . The first winner of the tournament was a Mr. John Rattray who because of the win became the captain of the club.

The rules that were devised were:
Articles & Laws in Playing at Golf.
1. You must Tee your Ball within a Club's length of the Hole.
2. Your Tee must be upon the Ground.
3. You are not to change the Ball which you Strike off the Tee.
4. You are not to remove Stones, Bones or any Break Club, for the sake of playing your Ball, Except upon the fair Green and that only / within a Club's length of your Ball.
5. If your Ball comes 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 for so getting out your Ball.
6. If your Balls be found any where touching one another, You are to lift the first Ball, till you play the last.
7. At Holling, you are to play your Ball honestly for the Hole, and not to play upon your Adversary’s Ball, not lying in your way to the Hole.
8. If you should lose your Ball, by it's 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 Holling his Ball, is to be allowed, to mark his way to the Hole with his Club, or anything else.
10. If a Ball be stopp’d by any Person, Horse, Dog or anything else, The Ball so stop’d must be play’d where it lyes.
11. If you draw your Club in Order to Strike, & proceed so far in the 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 Scholar's Holes, or the Soldier's Lines, Shall be accounted a Hazard; But the Ball is to be taken out teed /and play’d with any Iron Club.
John Rattray, Capt


During the first 20 years of this tournament entry was open to all golfers but in 1764 this changed and only the members of the club could play. This was the first membership to a golf club. The gentleman golfers also had another first and this was to build a clubhouse which was called the “Golf House” specifically for the purpose of members who played the course. This was a benchmark for future golf courses and they developed this idea to what we know today as the Clubhouse.

The golf society in 1860 decided to give a prize to the winner of this tournament that was a championship belt. This belt had silver fittings and was engraved with the Arms of Prestwick Burgh. The rules of the competition said that the Belt would become the possession of the golfer who won the Championship three years in succession. Tournaments across the country started to give prizes to the participants after this. The championship belt later developed into the coveted prize of the and was ready to be presented to the winner in 1873.



The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews


In 1754, twenty-two gentlemen formed the Society of St Andrews Golfers whom adopting the code of rules laid down by the founded in 1744. Until 1764 the Old Course at St. Andrews had 22 holes which were played by the Society of St Andrews Golfers. There were 11 hole cups at the time that were in a continuous line adjacent to the beach. The reason for playing on these grounds was because there was no other use for it due to the fact that it was too sandy and saline to grow crops or graze cattle apart from sheep. Once players had finished a hole they had to play to the next hole from a clubs length of the previous hole cup. The 11 holes were played outbound and then players would turn about and play the same 11 holes in a backwards fashion towards the Golf House. This is the reason why pot bunkers are located in strange places at the . Eventually they decided that the course was too long and too much time was spent playing so they therefore decided to merge 2 of these holes to create 18; 9 out and 9 in, some say that the reason for this was because a flask of whiskey only lasted for 18 holes. This became the standard number of holes on a golf course but was not written into the rule book until1858 and even then most golf clubs only had 9 holes.

In 1834 the club gained the patronage of King William IV and the title of " Golf Club of St Andrews". Now the club was deemed to be significantly important to the game. Therefore the club decided to build a golf house to meet the needs of the members and this was completed in 1854. The golf house entailed washing and dressing facilities, as well as space to store members’ club boxes (golf bags). It also catered for gentleman in pursuit of indoor activities; there was the option of billiards, cards, reading, smoking and dining. In 1856 however they realized that this space was too small for its purpose and they contracted George Rae to design an upper floor. Through the years further amendments had to be made to meet the demands of the members and their equipment that has shaped the look of golf clubs today.

The golf society in 1860 decided to give a prize to the winner which was a championship belt. This belt had silver fittings and was engraved with the Arms of Prestwick Burgh. The rules of the competition said that the Belt would become the possession of the golfer who won the Championship three years in succession. Tournaments across the country started to give prizes to the participants after this. The championship belt later developed into the coveted prize of the Claret Jug and was ready to be presented to the winner in 1873.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I see a wooden golf ball on your blog. I, myself possess what I believe to be an ancient wooden golf ball. But as you undoubtedly know proving it is the tough part. Can you suggest a path? I went so far as to dig some material out of severalof the holes and dents in thius thing and sent it off to sweden to a fellow who could identify pollen. The only pollen he could identify was that of a species of elm that grows primarily in Scotland, and according to him a couple of places in Texas. The Blackthorn club in England is said to have one, but they seem uninterested in talking to me, and didn't answer my queries.

Paul D. Maher
pmaher_art@yahoo.com

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Blogger golfguy said...

Paul,

The current situation surrounding the wooden golf ball is that few exist. The feathery golf ball is far more recoverable due to the nature of the material used. The fact that the golf ball you are talking about is made from elm, obviously dictates the nature of its degridation. Anyway, if you do have what you think is a wooden ball then first I would like to know where you obtained it and second the main place that would help you is the Scottish History Museum and would be the only place that will verify the authentisity of the ball. This of course; does take time, maybe a year or two. Although the outcome for yourself if it is authentic is enriching. I hope this helps.

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