Saturday, May 21, 2011


I came across a little tidbit the other day that said that the word 'golf' was an acronym that means gentlemen only, ladies forbidden.


It seems hardly worth mentioning but, of course, the word golf wasn't coined as an acronym formed from 'gentlemen only, ladies forbidden'. In fact I do only mention it as it is one of those nonsense stories that circulate on the Internet and this may help cut down on the number of times it gets repeated.

Golf is a very ancient game and the name is first used in print as early as 1457:

"And at e fut bal ande e golf be vtterly cryt downe and nocht vsyt."

This was part of a proclamation by James II of Scotland aimed at reducing the time that the populace spent playing golf and football , which were keeping his subjects away from archery practice. The edict was repeated later by James III and James IV, who called golf and football 'vnproffitable sportis'.

There were many spellings of the word prior to the acceptance of the current spelling - goff, gowf, golf, goif, gof to name just a few. The unsupported idea that the word was formed from an acronym hardly explains how all the alternative spellings came into being. Acronyms are in fact a 20th century innovation and more than half a millennium too late to be the source of the name golf.

The real derivation of 'golf' is obscure and the subject of considerable dispute.

Of course, this brings to mind just a few golf quotes -

Golf combines two favorite American pastimes: taking long walks and hitting things with sticks.

P. J. O'Rourke

Golf is a game in which a ball - one and a half inches in diameter - is placed on a ball - 8,000 miles in diameter. The object being to hit the small ball but not the larger.

John Cunningham

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

Mark Twain

And, last but not least -

If you foozle with your cleek, And your putts are let's say-weak.
If your drives, for all to see, Do not always leave the tee.
And to slice them is a habit, If, in short, you're a rabbit.
Do not put your clubs away Drink a Guinness everyday.

An early Guinness advert.

No comments:

Post a Comment