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History of Golf & Golf Equipment

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
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Golf originated during the 15th century.

Golf originated from a game played on the coast of Scotland during the 15th century. Golfers would hit a pebble instead of a ball around the sand dunes using a stick or club. After 1750, golf evolved into the sport as we recognize it today. In 1774, Edinburgh golfers wrote the first standardized rules for the game of golf.

Golf Balls

Golfers soon tired of hitting pebbles and tried other things. The earliest man-made golf balls included thin leather bags stuffed with feathers (they did not fly very far).

The gutta-percha ball was invented in 1848 by Reverend Adam Paterson. Made from the sap of the Gutta tree, this ball could be hit a maximum distance of 225 yards and was very similar to its modern counterpart.

In 1898, Coburn Haskell introduced the first one-piece rubber cored, when professionally hit these balls reached distances approaching 430 yards.

According to "The Dimpled Golf Ball" by Vincent Mallette during the early days of golf the balls were smooth. Players noticed that as balls became old and scarred, they traveled farther. After a while players would take new balls and intentionally pit them.

In 1905, golf ball manufacturer William Taylor was the first to add the dimple pattern using the Coburn Haskell ball. Golf balls had now taken on their modern form.

Golf Clubs

Golf clubs have evolved from wooden shaft clubs to today's sets of woods and irons with durability, weight distribution and graduation utility. The evolution of clubs went hand in hand with the evolution of golf balls that were able to withstand harder whacks.

Carrying & Caddies

During the 1880s, golf bags first came into use. "The beast of burden" is an old nickname for the caddie who carried golfers' equipment for them. The first powered golf car appeared around 1962 and was invented by Merlin L. Halvorson.

Golf Tees

The word "tee" as it relates to the game of golf originated as the name for the area where a golfer played. In 1899, the first documented portable golf tee was invented by Scottish golfers William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas. This golf tee was made from rubber and had three vertical rubber prongs that held the ball in place. However, it lay on the ground and did not piece the ground like modern golf tees.

In 1892, a British patent was granted to Percy Ellis for his "Perfectum" tee that did piece the ground. It was a rubber tee with a metal spike. The 1897 "Victor" tee was similar and included a cup-shaped top to better hold the golf ball. The Vicktor was patented by Scotsmen PM Matthews.

American patents for golf tees include: the first American patent issued to Scotsmen David Dalziel in 1895, the 1895 patent issued to American Prosper Senat, and the 1899 patent for an improved golf tee issued to George Grant.

Continue > History of Sports

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