3rd February 1922. Anyone for Golf?
Today in 1922 saw the publication of ‘The Clicking of Cuthbert’, a selection of ten short golfing stories by PG Wodehouse.(1)
In the ‘Long Hole’ story, a player bemoans: ‘ If there’s one thing that gives me a pain, square in the centre of the gizzard…it’s a golf lawyer…I go out with that man Hemmingway…and on the seventh…claims the hole simply because I happen to drop my niblick in the bunker’.
Niblick along with cleck, mashie and jigger, were the terms for golfing-irons, names invented by Archibald Barrie, and used from 1903 until the 1940s. Previously ‘woods’ were used such as spoon, brassie, and driver.
The first documented accounts of golf appears in a medieval Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1457 when it was prohibited under James II of Scotland, as it interfered with archery.
Acts of 1471 and 1491 said golf was an unprofitable sport. However James IV had balls and clubs bought for him in 1502 on his visits to Perth, St.Andrews and Edinburgh.(2)
In 1567 Mary Queen of Scots was accused of playing golf after the murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley.
In 1592 the Edinburgh Council listed golf as one of the pursuits to be avoided on the Sabbath.(3)
Later ‘Sabbath Sticks’ were carried which looked like walking-sticks, but were in fact golf clubs.
The earliest golf, instructional Diary was by Thomas Kincaird a medical student at Bruntsfield Links, Edinburgh who mentions the notion of a handicap system. He records: ‘after dinner went to the golve’, and describes the most effective way to play strokes.(4)
The earliest known representation of golf is in stained glass at Gloucester Cathedral which dates from the mid 1350s.
(1) Published by Herbert Jenkins, London at 3/6d and shows a dust-cover picture of a woollen-hatted, tweed-skirted lady, holding a bag of irons. The men at the time would have sported check plus-fours.
(2) Golf in Scotland 1457-1744. National Library of Scotland.
(3) Town Council Minutes dated 19.4.1592.
(4) Diary note for 20th January 1687.Ref: Golf in Scotland.
Ref: M Wood Ed.Extracts from Edinburgh Burgh Records. Oliver Boyd 1927 P.63.
Ref: wikipedia.org/clicking_of_cuthbert. Picture Ref.
Ref: The Works of PG Wodehouse.