SI Vault
Dan Jenkins
August 11, 1969
It is statute an ordinit that in na place of the realme be there usit...Golfe or uther sik unprofitabill sportis. —JAMES IV to Parliament in Edinburgh May 16, 1491
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August 11, 1969

A Personalized History Of Scottish Golf Or You'll Not Do That Here, Laddie

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"Aye," he said. "Guid featheries that cum from the Laird of Rosyth. Guid featheries stuffed with flock."

"Four s's," I said. "And not an s more."

"Eight s's," he said.

"They're hot, man. Six s's and we both eel out clean," I said.

He went for the six—you can always strike a bargain in Europe—and disappeared back into the whin. And now that I had saved golf, I couldn't wait to try out one of the new high-compression featheries. I heeled up a good lie and gave the shot a full body turn. Wow. There is still a hole in the wind where I hit that shot and I thought to myself, what a happy and golden time, indeed.

In a few more years all of royalty would be playing golfe. There were rumors of Mary Queen of Scots shanking around the fields of Seton when some said she should have been mourning the demise of Lord Darnley. Charles I got a very bad press for being in a match at Leith when the Irish Rebellion broke out. A lot of Jameses and Dukes of York were seen swinging at Musselburgh, which still claims to be the oldest layout in the world and now sits inside a racecourse near Edinburgh. There was a Stuart or two spotted in a putting game at Leith, where The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers got started.

All golfers, I think, are indebted to a small group of us that got together in 1744—The Honourable Company, or The Company of Gentleman Golfers as we called ourselves then. What we did was form the first country club. Not only that, we sat down and wrote the first rules of the game, which we called the Articles & Laws in Playing at Golf.

Those first rules have been well-preserved, along with some terribly clever comments I made at the meeting as I spoke keenly above the roar of our first president, Duncan Forbes. Among those rules were:

I You Must Tee your Ball within a Club length of the hole.

(It's going to be uproarious fun, guys, waiting for somebody to drive before you can putt.)

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