USGA on golf, birdie, eagle, bogie, mulligan, skins, links, fore, dormie

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Tue Sep 30 07:50:31 UTC 2003

   "Birdie" an Atlantic City, NJ coinage?  Maybe Landau could get a plaque 
drive going and ask for a country club discount?...Again, my 1911 "birdie" 
citation was from New Jersey.
   By the way, these USGA guys are located on my block--57th Street--next to 
Carnegie Hall, on the site of the former Russian Tea Room!
What is the origin of the word 'golf?' 
> The word 'golf' is not an acronym for anything.  Rather, it derives 
> linguistically from the Dutch word 'kolf' or 'kolve,' meaning quite simply 'club.'  
> In the Scottish dialect of the late 14th or early 15th century, the Dutch 
> term became 'goff' or 'gouff,' and only later in the 16th century 'golf.'  The 
> linguistic connections between the Dutch and Scottish terms are but one 
> reflection of what was a very active trade industry between the Dutch ports and the 
> ports on the east coast of Scotland from the 14th through 17th centuries.  
> Some scholars suggest that the Dutch game of 'kolf,' played with a stick and 
> ball on frozen canals in the wintertime, was brought by the Dutch sailors to 
> the east coast of Scotland, where it was transferred on to the public 
> linkslands and eventually became the game we know today. 
How did the terms 'birdie' and 'eagle' come into golf?
> The term 'birdie' originated in the United States in 1899.  H.B. Martin's 
> "Fifty Years of American Golf" contains an account of a foursomes match played 
> at the Atlantic City (N.J.) CC.  One of the players, Ab Smith relates: "my 
> ball... came to rest within six inches of the cup.  I said 'That was a bird of 
> a shot... I suggest that when one of us plays a hole in one under par he 
> receives double compensation.'  The other two agreed and we began right away, 
> just as soon as the next one came, to call it a 'birdie.'  In 19th century 
> American slang, 'bird' refereed to anyone or anything excellent or wonderful.By 
> analogy with 'birdie,' the term 'eagle' soon thereafter became common to refer 
> to a score one better than a 'bird.'  Also by analogy, the term 'albatross' 
> for double eagle - an even bigger eagle!
What is the origin of the word 'bogey?'
> The term 'bogey' comes from a song that was popular in the British Isles in 
> the early 1890s, called "The Bogey Man" (later known as "The Colonel Bogey 
> March").  The character of the song was an elusive figure who hid in the 
> shadows: "I'm the Bogey Man, catch me if you can." Golfers in Scotland and England 
> equated the quest for the elusive Bogey Man with the quest for the elusive 
> perfect score. By the mid to late 1890s, the term 'bogey score' referred to 
> the ideal score a good player could be expected to make on a hole under perfect 
> conditions.  It also came to be used to describe stroke play tournaments – 
> hence, in early Rules books we find a section detailing the regulations for 
> 'Bogey Competitions.'  It was only in the late 1900s/early 1910s that the 
> concept of 'Par' started to emerge - this being the designated number of strokes a 
> scratch player could be expected to take on a hole in ideal conditions.  In 
> this way par was distinguished from bogey.  The term par itself is a standard 
> term in sports handicapping, where it simply means 'level' or 'even.'
What are the origins of the term 'dormie?'
> Historically, the term dormie is derived from the French/Latin cognate 
> 'dormir,' meaning 'to sleep,' suggesting that a player who is 'dormie' can relax 
> (literally, go to sleep) without fear of losing the match.
Why do golfers shout 'Fore!' when they hit an errant shot?
> The word 'fore' is Scottish in origin, and is a shortened version of the 
> word 'before' or 'afore.' The old Scottish warning, essentially meaning "look 
> out ahead," most probably originated in military circles, where it was used by 
> artillery men as a warning to troops in foreword positions. Golfers as early 
> as the 18th century simply adopted this military warning cry for use on the 
> links.
What is the definition of a 'links' course?
> 'Links' is a term that refers to a very specific geographic land form found 
> in Scotland.  Such tracts of low-lying, seaside land are characteristically 
> sandy, treeless, and undulating, often with lines of dunes or dune ridges, 
> and covered by bent grass and gorse.  To be a true links, the tract of land 
> must lie near the mouth of a river - that is, in an estuarine environment.  From 
> the Middle Ages onward, linksland (generally speaking, poor land for 
> farming) were common grounds used for sports, including archery, bowls and golf.

> Because many of the early courses of Scotland were built on these common 
> linksland, golf courses and links have forever been associated.  The term 
> 'links' is commonly misapplied to refer to any golf course.  But remember that a 
> true links depends only on geography.
What is the origin of the popular golf game called 'skins?'
> As a format of golf gambling, 'skins' has been around for decades, but 
> really only became popular after the creation of "The Skins Game" in the 1980s. 
> In other parts of the country, 'skins' is also known as 'cats,' 'scats,' 
> 'skats,' or 'syndicates.' Of these, 'syndicates' seems to be the oldest term, 
> going back at least to the 1950s, and possibly earlier. It has been suggested 
> that 'skins,' 'scats,' etc. are simply shortened, simplified versions of the 
> term 'syndicates.' 
Why are there 18 holes on a golf course?
> The links at St. Andrews occupy a narrow strip of land along the sea.  As 
> early as the 15th century, golfers at St. Andrews established a customary 
> route through the undulating terrain, playing to holes whose locations were 
> dictated by topography.  The course that emerged featured eleven holes, laid out 
> end to end from the clubhouse to the far end of the property.  One played the 
> holes out, turned around, and played the holes in, for a total of 22 holes. 
> In 1764, several of the holes were deemed too short, and were therefore 
> combined.  The number was thereby reduced from 11 to nine, so that a complete round 
> of the links comprised 18 holes.When golf clubs in the UK formally 
> recognized the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews as the rule-making body for 
> the sport in the late 1890s, it became necessary for many clubs to expand or 
> reduce the length of their course to eighteen holes.  Prior to this time, 
> courses ranged in length from six holes to upward of 20 holes.  However, if 
> golfers were to play by the official R&A rules, then their appointed round would 
> consist of 18 holes.
 Where does the word 'mulligan' come from?
> There is considerable debate about this topic, to say the least. There are 
> several clubs and several people who have staked claims about the origin of 
> the term 'mulligan.' 
The story most widely accepted focuses on a gentleman named David 
> Mulligan who played at the St. Lambert CC in Montreal, Canada during the 
> 1920s. There are several versions of the David Mulligan story. 

   Mr. Mulligan was a hotelier in the first half of the century, a part-owner 

> and manager of the Biltmore Hotel in New York City, as well as several 
> large Canadian hotels. One story says that the first mulligan was an impulsive 
> sort of event - that one day Mulligan hit a very long drive off the first tee, 
> just not straight, and acting on impulse re-teed and hit again. His partners 
> found it all amusing, and decided that the shot that Mulligan himself called 
> a 'correction shot' deserved a better named, so they called it a 'mulligan.'
   Story two: Mulligan played with a regular foursome at St. Lambert, 
> and in the morning he drove to pick up his golfing buddies. The road into 
> the club was reportedly bumpy and windy and just sort of generally poor, with 
> bridge of bumpy railroad ties. An extra shot was allotted to Mulligan, the 
> driver of the car, on the first tee because he was jumpy and shaking from the 
> difficult drive. 
   Story three: this story again identified a specific moment, citing a day 
> when David Mulligan showed up late to the course, having scrambled to get 
> out of bed late and get dressed and get to the course on time. He was frazzled 
> on the first tee, hit a poor shot, and re-teed. 
   Another version of the 'mulligan' story comes from the Essex Fells CC in 
> N.J. This story is one of the latest, and may therefore be less credible. 
> According to the this version, the term was named after a locker room 
> attendant at the club named John A. 'Buddy' Mulligan, who worked at the club during 
> the 1930s and was known for replaying shots, particularly on the first tee.
   Compiled by Dr. Rand Jerris, USGA Museum Curator

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