11.4.2002 by , every Monday.
Recently, I was out driving in the rain. It was cold, dark, wet, and miserable. And it was on this dank twilight that I saw something quite bewildering.
I happened to drive past a golf course, and I saw two grown men, jackets wrapped tight against the rain and cold, playing golf. In the dark. This brought many questions to mind:
How can they find the ball once they tee off?
Why are these people allowed to roam around unsupervised?
What is the top speed of your average golf cart?
Would a column about golf be as painfully boring as watching it?
Will Heather Graham ever drop that damned restraining order?
So many questions, so few answers, so few attorneys willing to work pro bono.
Golf was invented by the Scottish, the people who also introduced haggis, men wearing skirts, and bagpipes to the world. Its first popular incarnation surfaced in the 1400s, in which Scotsmen would take turns wandering fields, using sticks to try and knock pebbles into rabbit holes. Afterwards, the Scotsmen would retire to a nearby tavern to drink, gamble, drink, break furniture over each other's heads, drink, vomit, and pass out. I know what you're thinking; “The heavy drinking and cranial trauma came after the golf?” Baffling, but true.
Golf's first major evolutionary step toward legitimacy came in 1744, when the Magistrates and Council of Edinburgh published the first rules and regulations of golf, "Articles and Laws in Playing Golf - The Rules of The Gentlemen Golfers of Leith.” This featured such rules as:
“You must tee your ball within one club's length of the hole.”
“The club may only be used to strike the ball.”
“The amount of wine and spirits to be consumed by each player during the course of play is not to exceed the volume of one hog's-head barrel of each, except on alternate Wednesdays or if you feel like it.”
“The full wicket of the Kings-shire fault shall not exceed fifteen cubits.”
“Whenever possible, the Expulsion of Bodily Fluids shall be permitted only outside the perimeter of the playing area.”
It's pretty obvious that a game of golf was a real blast back then, even after the banning of all manner of firearms and swords in 1751.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, golf had found its way to North America. In Canada, trappers reported seeing groups of eskimos, whose appendages would often freeze solid and snap off in the frigid Canadian winter (September to August 28), use frozen legs to knock pebbles and flash-frozen eyeballs into holes in the glaciers. And in the United States, Scottish immigrants brought their odd hobby with them, even to the Wild West, where the famous “Scottish Cowboys” would use their shotguns to knock around buffalo manure. Tragically, most of these proud men were eradicated by savage saddle sores, brought on by the fundamental incompatibility between kilts and saddles, and the golfer's “club” discharging into his chest.
Finally, golf turned into the game we know today. A game which has the ability to make otherwise sane men venture out into the dark on a cold, rainy November night, and spend several hours looking for a tiny white ball.
Now if you'll excuse me, my hog's-head barrel is getting low.