February 1, 2012
- 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:
- Players are asked to collect Bomb and Shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the mowing machines.
- In competitions, during gunfire, or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
- The positions of known delayed-action bombs are marked by red flags placed at reasonably, but not guaranteed safe distance therefrom.
- 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.
- 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.
- A ball lying in a crater may be lifted and dropped not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole without penalty.
- 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.