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GOLF

ORIGINS

  • Scotland is always looked upon as the home of the golf. When James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne and became James I, he brought the game of golf south of the border with him.

  • Scotland again pioneered the sport in 1744 when the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers was formed, followed shortly by a similar group at St Andrews, which became the famed Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Yet, it wasn"t until 1919 that the Royal and Ancient became the ultimate authority in golf.

  • The first club to be founded in England, however, was at Blackheath in 1766.


SPACE REQUIRED

  • Championship golf courses comprise 18 holes. Each hole is situated on a closely mown patch of grass called a green. Having hit the ball into a hole the golfer strikes the ball towards the next green along what is known as the fairway, the piece of land connecting each green. The grass on the fairway is also mown, but not at each side, an area which is known as the rough.

  • Various hazards can be included on a course such as bunkers, which are sand-filled hollows, lakes and streams, as well as trees and hills.


PLAYING APPARATUS

  • Each player is allowed a maximum of 14 clubs, which can be shared if they are playing with a partner. Clubs fall into three categories. A "wood" is used for long shots and has a bulbous woodenhead. An "iron", with a narrow metal head, is also used for longer and middle distance shots. And a "putter", with a flatter metal head, is used for striking the ball into the hole on the green.

  • The ball, which is made of rubber, and coated with plastic, can have a maximum diameter of only 1.68 inches.

  • Spiked shoes are worn, with comfortable trousers and a loose short-sleeved shirt, and sometimes a visor to keep out the sun. Women wear a blouse and skirt, or trousers.


RULES AND REGULATIONS

  • Golf is played by two, three or four people against each other, or in teams. The player or team who complete the course in fewest strokes wins. In big tournaments four rounds of 18 holes can be played over four days. The players with the highest score in strokes drop out over the last two days.

  • Players can be judged at any moment of a competition by comparing their score with the "par" of the holes they have completed. This is the number of strokes allotted to each hole, in which an expert golfer should have "putted" the ball. It could range from "par3" to "par6", and is higher for women.

  • If the player putts the ball in one stroke under par they have achieved a "birdie" and two under is an "eagle". Each of the 18 holes is scored separately, and the total added up at the end of the round.


RECORDS SET IN THE GAME

  • Walter Hagen was America"s first great golfer. Born in 1892, he died in 1969. He set a record by the winning the United States Professional Golfers Association Championship four years running from 1924 to 1927. He also won the British Open four times.

  • After the game"s domination by America, Englishman Henry Cotton (1907-1987) hit back by winning the British Open twice in the 1930s, and again in 1948. Together with Hegan and South African Bobby Locke he became one of the three first professional to be given honorary membership of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

  • Latterly, Britain"s Nick Faldo, born in Hertfordshire in 1957, has dominated the game. In 1989 and 1990 he won the US Masters and has won most major tournaments in the world.


DID YOU KNOW?

  • One of the most unusual rounds of golf ever took place in Chicago on 4 September 1933, when detectives found out that Public Enemy No. 4 "Machine Gun Jack" Mcgurn was playing in the second day of the Western Golf Championships under his real name, Vincent Gebardi. The police arrested him for vagrancy on the eight tee, when his score was one under par. They allowed him to play on, with detectives accompanying him round the course. His attention somewhat disturbed by this unexpected intervention, Gebardi ended with a score of 86 and withdrew from the competition.

  • Few golfers in history matched the popularity of the American Harry Vardon. On one occasion the New York stock exchange was closed because so many of the traders were absent watching him play.

  • Mary, Queen of Scots, is believed to have been the first woman golfer, playing the game at Seton Hall in 1567. This behaviour, so soon after the death of her husband Lord Darnley, is said to have helped encourage questions about her fitness to rule.

  • Among the oddest shots ever was said to have been played by the duke of Gloucester in 1922. He drove a golf ball from the top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, Egypt; it landed 800 yards away in the swimming pool of the Mena House Hotel!

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