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Home Golf History A Humorous Look at the Origin of Golf

A Humorous Look at the Origin of Golf

Ian McAndrews walked his sheep deep into the meadows of 16th century Scotland. He was unhappy with his flock's appearance. Their once lustrous coats seemed dull and had a bad case of split ends.

Thinking some wild animals hid amongst the thistle, thereby terrorizing his docile lambs, he went out at dawn with a McDonald style walking stick ready to defend himself and his sheep.

Now, a McDonald style walking stick is a cane really, carved to look like a long flat snake with a crook below the head where a man might clasp it. Otherwise, the shaft is bent and twisted several times ending with a fine point suitable for stabbing, should the need arise. The top is the shape of a flat-surfaced knob about the size of a small boy's fist.

As the pale yellow sun lazily rolled over the horizon, Ian McAndrews felt shocked by his discovery. The meadow, his meadow appeared dotted by the most curious white mushrooms he had ever seen. They outnumbered the thistle three to one and that's saying something.

When Ian McAndrews spied his sheep bobbing their shaggy heads as they devoured the offending Disambiguation, his eyes grew wider. For all he knew, they were slowly poisoning or intoxicating his herd, his livelihood.

After a sharp whistle brought his Sheepdogs running, he watched as they corralled his flock into a safe cluster away from the heaviest concentration of mushrooms.

Satisfied with the result, he went to the closest mushroom and whacked it with the pointed end of his McDonald cane. The outcome was dissatisfying. Ian McAndrews was a man for whom outcome was everything so he flipped the cane in the air, snatching it by grabbing the point end and took a mighty two-handed swing at the aberrant mushroom.

The head of the McDonald's cane cut into the top of the stem and sent the round mushroom head fifty feet away from where he stood. With a loud victorious laugh, Ian proceeded to the next one and the one after that.

In the meantime, his shepherd neighbor Patrick McDougal, heard his shouting, and hurried out — kilt flying behind him like a deflated sail– to learn if his oldest friend might be in trouble. When he saw Ian knock the head of yet another mushroom, he was shocked, and then decided he might as well just join in and assist his neighbor in clearing the land.

By noon, the men were wagering to see which of them might drive the round white heads the farthest.

Moreover, within two days, men from the nearest village began gathering to have a hand at it, or to bet on who would prove to be the best driver, as shepherds were sometimes called.

Unfortunately, within three weeks, the dry season dropped on them like a draught, and the mushrooms disappeared. However, it could never be said,that Ian McAndrews was not an innovator.

He and his neighbor Patrick worked through the summer until they created a small white ball about the size of the mushroom head. Although, since one of Ian's complaints regarding the mushroom was that it smashed on the first blow, they made their balls firmer, with a nice snug cowhide covering.

Getting their wives to hand stitch the covering over their golf balls took some doing, but bribery was not outside the realm of Ian's skills. A little imported French wine, and the best Highland Scotch Whiskey, a few well-placed kisses, and voilá, their new golf balls were finished.

The following autumn, after the shearing, slaughtering, and selling, Ian and Patrick organized the very first round of golf; called a round because they needed to walk around the stream where the now famous footbridge crosses at Saint Andrews to collect the balls accidentally driven over the waterway.

And where did the name Golf originate? They mimicked the sound that the head of the McDonald's cane made when it solidly contacted the first spring mushroom. Originally pronounced “Guf” with a Highland accent


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