On the occasion of a golf rule evening that I held for my friends and students of the golf school, I had to realize that even long-time golfers often have quite a few gaps in their knowledge, not so much about the rules, but more about golf history, players, famous courses, types of game, etc. This is of course a great pity, because it is precisely this knowledge that opens up a better understanding of the sport of golf and also of the social golf environment typical of the country in question.
In many cases, the golf horizon is clearly limited to the local golf scene and of course, one is somewhat fixed on the local events. I like to compare it with skiing. Especially Austrians as a leading skiing nation understand this. I always say: imagine you live in Scotland, there are a few ski slopes there too (note e.g. the Ben Nevis.) and otherwise you and your local ski instructors hardly know any other ski slopes.
This can be compared with the level of knowledge of many golfers who have, thank God, found their way to our sport in the last 10 years or so.
But golf, like skiing, is of course more. It did not start with a Tiger Woods or skiing with a Hermann Maier and it will not end with these current sports stars.
But golf can be much more fun if you look a little bit beyond your own nose and look at the history and events in the really leading golfing nations.
The sport of golf in other countries
Just as skiing in Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland, especially in winter, determines the daily life of many people, so does golf in England, Scotland, Ireland and above all in the USA. After the job quickly a round of golf in a private club or public facility is normal. It is usual to spend holidays or holidays in the club with family and friends.
Many of our golfers know destinations from these countries, especially the USA, from their holidays and take these pictures home with them… Now, holiday destinations clearly have little to do with real golf life, which often leads to incorrect impressions that are difficult to reconcile with our golf.
What do you know about famous golfers of the past?
Hardly known to us, I had to find out, such famous golfers as Ben Hogan, Henri Vardon, Sam Snead, are understandable, they were active for a very long time, ok. But already an Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, who made golf in its present form only really popular after the Second World War, hardly anyone here knows it. Right now the generation of a Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Ballesteros, etc. is about to fall into oblivion of the current generation of golfers (this is not a question of age).
Well, understandable somehow, but also a pity, a normal US citizen hardly knows the names of old soccer stars like Uwe Seeler, Franz Beckenbauer etc., so it’s the other way round with golf.
Worldwide known are surely also for non-skiers places like St. Moritz, Kitzbühel, Lech a. Arlberg. etc… and in golfing of course St.Andrews in Scotland or Augusta, Ohio, because of the Masters.Peeble Beach California, Pinhurst, Turnberry, Scotland, etc.
The British Open
But did you know that the first British Open was actually played on the Prestwick Golf Course on the west coast of Scotland, near Glasgow and today’s Troon (where the famous Troon Golf Club is located)?
The game was not yet played for money, but for the famous belt of the champion winner (similar to boxing) the “Belt”.
The first courses had 12, later 24 and only for reasons that are no longer comprehensible today, did the game return to 18 holes.
The word PAR
The word PAR is derived from Professional Average Result, the average score of professional players. The first really famous pro was “Old Tom Morris” at the end of the 19th century, whose pro shop still exists today, near the 18th hole of the Old Course of St. Andrews.
A scratch golfer, i.e. a player who plays a course PAR, this term was developed at the US Amateur Championships, which should be the average of the performances.
Therefore my advice to enthusiastic golfers, once in your life you should visit Scotland and have seen the British Open at least once, then the perspective for your golf will broaden considerably.
Golf game variations
Unfortunately also in oblivion with us the many game variants fall into oblivion. For the sake of Stableford. Points count. Some of them are close to my heart, especially:
The Hole Betting Game, in which one plays against another hole for hole. Whoever has won the most holes at the end is the winner. This is hardly ever played anymore.
A variation of this game is the skin game, which is very popular in the USA.
Each player makes a winning bet. The winner and winner of the stake is only the best player (ball) per hole. If no player achieves this, e.g. with four players, two are equal, the stake moves to the next hole. Famous was the Skinsgame, organized by golf legend Greg Norman under the name “Shark-Shoot Out”.
The Bestball Aggregate is a team game, two against two on a hole betting basis: Each player plays his ball – but 2 points are awarded per hole. One point for the player with the best score, one point for the team with the best overall result in the team’s net score, i.e. one player has a handicap of 10 and the other handicap 30, so this team plays with HC 20 This form is very suitable when better and less good players play together.
With beginners you should practice the Florida or Texas Scramble. The new golfer can learn the rules a little bit, but the game will be faster on busy days. this is also a team game (2 against 2). The worse positioned player may always put his ball in the same place as the better team player. If you are now looking forward to the new golf season, my tip is to dig a little deeper into golf history and try out one or the other new game variation with your golf friends in the new season.