Entries Tagged as 'History'


The most player friendly individual competition is stableford.  Today I learned how it originated.

According to Pacific Golfer March 2010 stableford was introduced by Dr. Frank Barney Gordon Stableford.  Introduced because many golfers did not enjoy the game after playing the first few holes badly.  The first Stableford competition was played at the Wallasley Golf Club on May 16, 1932.  It seems that the usual bogey method of scoring (a.k.a. par) was a bit frustrating when he could not reach long par 4’s into the breeze. After experimenting with  alternatives Frank Stableford settled on the system we use today.

Frank Stableford was a low handicap golfer. Records show that he played of 2 in 1922, and at age 58 was playing was on 8.  Among his golfing accomplishments was the establishment of the Robin Hood Golf Club near Birmingham. He paced out the holes, placing a pole where the tee and the green were to be.  The grounds staff were then  ordered to cut the grass. Two hours later the golf course architects arrived to touhgen up the course.  Today it takes years to go from concept to competition.

Pacific Golfer magazine is available by subscription – and is distributed free through many golf clubs.  It is an informative read, with lots of adverts as well.

One of golf’s predecessors?

Chole was the game played in Belgium.

Teams would use iron clubs to smite an egg-shaped ball across country to hit a designated target. The target could be a church door, a tree, a town monument or marker.

No prior preparation was needed, no fairway to be mown, no bunkers to be raked or greens  prepared.  Just pick the target and go for it.   How did it work?  Apparently the team would bid a number of shots to reach the target, and the lowest bidding team would then try to hit the target in that number of shots. But it wasn’t as easy as the game of golf as we know it.  Apart from the terrain they also had to deal with the opposition. After each three strokes the bidding team made the opposition got one shot at hitting the ball. They would try to put the ball in the worst trouble they could find.  The contest continued until the bid was won or lost.

Sounds like a bit of fun… and it would be interesting to try on a normal golf course.

For an interesting and informative read on the history of the game Steve Newell’s “A History of Golf” is a well presented look at the game and its different facets.

The first professional golfer

From the time golf began skilled craftsmen earned income making and repairing equipment. Not all craftsmen could play, but those who were skilled players carved a living out of the game. One of the great names of thos early years was Tom Morris the Elder – who not only made clubs and balls, but was superintendent of the course where he taught and played.

Scottish golfer Allan Robertson is considered to be the first professional golfer. The son of the senior caddy at St Andrews, Roberston was never beaten in a match for money. One pairs match he played was for £400 – a huge purse in 1849.
It was not until 1901 that British golfing professionals formed themselves into an Association of Craftsmen. This group was the model for such associations around the world, and preceded the Australian PGA by 10 years.

Today many people make a living from golf, but few of them are considered to be professional golfers. That group is determined by the national professional associations. They require achievement of a prescribed playing standard and/or the completion of appropriate training.

There is another path out of amateur status, receiving a prize valued at over 500 English pounds. Ironically that will not make you a golfing professional, but may stop you  from having amateur status.  The Rules of Golf include a section entitled Rules of Amateur Status (p163-179) in the current rule book available to all members at their local club.


“ProGolf: Out of the rough.  Illustrated History of Professional Golf in Australia” by Colin de Groot with Jim Webster, PGA of Australia, Sydney, 1991.
Rules of Golf 2008-2011,  R&A and USGA,  2007.