How Golf Has Evolved

In Illinois and other states in which high school students play golf as a varsity sport, golf in the schools is one sign of the evolution that golf has undergone.

Since golf began in fifteenth century Scotland it has experienced changes in every regard.

Some aspects have changed more than others: the equipment being updated through technological advances, the clothing updated through the changes of fashion, and the players receiving new opportunities through the development of professional tours, school golf programs, and televised golf.

Here are some examples of the changes that have come about through the evolution of golf.

1. The Evolution of the Rules of Golf

Today, we expect to see penalties exacted in strokes or breaches of the rules in disqualification, but in 1773, Rule X of the regulations promulgated by the Members of the Society of Golfers in and about Edinburgh at Bruntsfield Links included a monetary fine.

The rule states that "No Golfer shall under any pretense whatever give any old Balls to the Cadies, if they do, they shall for every such Ball given away forfeit sixpence to the Treasurer."

2. Motor Vehicles and the Evolution of Golf

In the fifteenth century, walking, horseback riding, and boats were the main forms of transportation. Travel was slow, and people undertook journeys only for good and sufficient reason.

At that time, the push/pull golf cart wasn't even imaginable, but we've gone much farther than that. Today, not only do we have motorized golf carts to travel the course, but golfers use cars, trains, and planes to go to and play at golf courses thousands of miles from where they live.

3. The Development of Golf as a Spectator Sport

When golf was first played, people were not spending a lot of time in leisure activities, and spectator sports had not yet gained wide acceptance. Today, people travel to golf courses to watch matches, as well as view them via televised broadcasts and Internet coverage.

4. Professional Players

In the sixteenth century, golf royalty was . . . well, royalty. James IV of Scotland played, as did his granddaughter, Mary Queen of Scots, as well as her son, James VI, who has a golf course named after him.

Today, the term golf royalty refers to the premier professional golfers who stand out for the quality of their lives as well as their play. For example, Byron Nelson, who won eleven tournaments in a row in 1945, was eulogized as golf royalty upon his death in 2006.

As for some of the younger players? Well, even if a player like Brandt Snedeker isn't ready to be called golf royalty, he's been called the "world's greatest putter" by the PGA, so we can dub him King of the Green.

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Clavin, T. (2006, October 18). Lord Byron was indeed golf royalty. Retrieved from PGA Tour. (2010, July 20). World's greatest putter: Brandt Snedeker. Retrieved from Historical Rules of Golf Pages. (n.d.). Articles laws in playing at golf. Retrieved from

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