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
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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