Meanings “Golf” also “War”

February 1, 2012

The etymology of “golf” provokes thinking down several lines.  Here it is from etymology.com:

golf Look up golf at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., Scottish gouf, usually taken as an alteration of M.Du. colf, colve “stick, club, bat,” from P.Gmc. *kulth- (cf. O.N. kolfr “clapper of a bell,” Ger. Kolben “mace, club”). The game is from 14c., the word is first mentioned (along with fut-bol) in a 1457 Scottish statute on forbidden games. The verb is c.1800, from the noun. Related: Golfed; golfing. Golf ball attested from 1540s.

So somehow a bell clapper is (sort of) the original golf club? And seven centuries ago, golf is a forbidden game along with football?

But what brings the ancient Scottish game to mind this morning is a list from listsofnote.com regarding wartime golf rules. Clearly, the game must go on:

  1. Players are asked to collect Bomb and Shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the mowing machines.
  2. In competitions, during gunfire, or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
  3. The positions of known delayed-action bombs are marked by red flags placed at reasonably, but not guaranteed safe distance therefrom.
  4. Shrapnel/and/or bomb splinters on the Fairways, or in Bunkers within a club’s length of a ball may be moved without penalty, and no penalty shall be incurred if a ball is thereby caused to move accidentally.
  5. A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced, or if lost or destroyed, a ball may be dropped not nearer the hole without penalty.
  6. A ball lying in a crater may be lifted and dropped not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole without penalty.
  7. A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty, one stroke.

The word “war,” by the way, derives from an old Germanic root meaning “to confuse or perplex.”  Indeed.

 

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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