If it seems like more people like golf today than ever before, it might come as a surprise to look back at its history. Golf originated in Scotland, where King James II temporarily banned it in 1457 because his army was missing military training, obsessed by the game. At that time golf was played with sticks and pebbles over the natural landscape.
In the 16th century, the game of golf left Scottish shores for other countries. King Charles I of England and Mary Queen of Scots are credited with spreading golf to England and France, respectively. Mary Queen of Scots had French military cadets attend her in the game, referred to as “caddies.” The term stuck to present day, and those who like golf know that a caddie not only cares for the golf clubs, but is an adviser who helps a golfer choose the right club and strategize technical shots.
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While golf was a game for royals in its early history, with the Industrial Revolution, golf clubs and balls became mass produced and inexpensive enough for the masses. In the mid 1800s national and international golf championships were founded in countries from England to India and the USA, and in 1900 golf became an Olympic sport.
Today’s golf enthusiasts like golf for many reasons. Rolling green courses are landscaped not only for technical challenge but for beauty. Trees and lakes provide aesthetic pleasure and a natural environment for animals, including birds, squirrels, fish, and in some states like Florida, even alligators. In an era of crowded cities and suburbs, the open-air, breezy golf course is a tonic.
In addition to the pleasing serenity of a golf course, people also like golf because of the exercise. Courses are 18 holes, and can be long or short to accommodate different skill levels. Short courses can be easily walked, while many opt for an electric golf cart on long courses. Even so, a golfer must walk from cart to ball for each shot, which amounts to a good deal of exercise. The swing also works several upper body muscles.
People also like golf because of the challenge. While it may seem like an easy game, it is highly technical. Getting the swing just right makes all the difference in sending the ball sailing from the tee. Putting on the green requires an opposite skill set that includes a sharp eye, choosing the right line, and applying just the right amount of strength.
Finally, many like golf because it is a social game. Often called “the gentleman’s sport,” women like golf too because it is a non-contact sport that nearly anyone can enjoy with a little practice. Whether competing for titles in local or international tournaments, or playing for pleasure on a lazy afternoon, golf is a sport with much to offer all ages and both genders. Try it and you just might find you like golf too.