In 1961 Charlie Sifford played the Greater Greensboro Open at Sedgefield Country Club. It was the very first time that an Afro-American golfer was permitted to play in a PGA Tour event in the southern part of the United States. Sifford impressed everyone by playing well enough to finish in fourth place against some of the greatest players in history.
Phil Blackmar, was the tallest man to ever win a PGA Tour event. Blackmar, at six feet, seven inches in his socks and a full inch taller than former pro, George Archer, won the 1977 Shell Houston Open on the first hole of a sudden death playoff. Blackmar took home a cool $288,000 which is more money than he won in any of his previous 13 seasons.
photo credit: nsaplayer In a recent interview, Billy Casper, one of the greatest putters of all time, made the following statement, “I think most of today's players have made the game too technical.” Many would agree with Casper. The game of golf has turned into a millionaire”s sport. You've got to be rich to compete and you will get rich when you do compete. even if you don't finish first.
Players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and many other's, have made it a point to have their swing coach's present through the duration of any given tournament. Golf has become big business where companies pay $50,000 just to wear their logo on a hat. Winning a tour event today means making more money than most people make in an entire lifetime.
photo credit: Danny Nicholson The use of the word “birdie” originated in 1899 at the Atlanta City Country Club. It seems George Crump, the famed architect of the infamous Pine Valley Golf Club, was playing the 350-yard 2nd hole with Ab and William Smith. Ab's second shot stopped six inches from the pin. “That was a bird of a shot,” Ab cried. One-under on a hole has been called a birdie ever since.
The earliest mention of golf in Scotland – the birthplace of the game – was a pronouncement by the Scottish Parliament in 1457. It decreed that golf “be utterly cryit doune and not usit” (rejected and ignored) because it was keeping young soldiers away from archery practice. The game was extremely popular even in it's infancy!
photo credit: nsaplayer Calamity Jane was the famous putter used by Bobby Jones, who was a winner of the grand slam. The putter had been broken several times and required glue and tape to hold the shaft together. Because the conditions of the greens in Jones' era were much thicker and rougher than today's greens, Calamity Jane needed the loft of a 2-iron.
Jones had a long and smooth putting stroke. He opened the face on his backstroke and closed it on the follow through, unlike some of today's top tour players who swing the putter in a straight path back and forward. They say that Jones was one of the most relaxed players to ever play, his smooth and easy going style is still being copied by some of today's best players.
Calamity Jane now sits in the Augusta National club house where it can be seen by members and guests. Jones was one of the founders of Augusta National Golf Course.
photo credit: Andy on Flickr The advent of the gutta-percha ball led to several changes. Harder than a featherie, which came before the gutta-percha, it could damage the skinny wooden-headed clubs. Many golfers found their clubs breaking where the neck joined the head. Clubmakers designed smaller, deeper heads to better absorb the blow against the harder “guttie.” The clubhead began to assume its squat appearance.
Later a club called the “bulger” (the face bulged forward), was used. A “brassie” found its way into the game, so called because of a piece of brass put on the sole of the club to prevent damage when it hit the hard ground such as roads or footpaths which were found on courses. The brassie was close in loft to the driver and eventually became the 2 wood.
photo credit: danperry.com In golf's early days, course conditions were far from what they are today. Back then, the game was played on fields barely cleared. Courses weren't maintained, they were just accepted.
The first ball in use was called the featherie and it was prone to splitting. It also got much heavier when wet. What followed wasn't much better: the gutta percha ball was introduced in 1848 and was a rounded piece of tree resin.
Greens were hardly distinguishable from fairways (the word fairway wasn't used until the late 1800's), nothing like today's manicured surfaces.
Golf began in the British Isles and was played under horrible conditions. Once the game started, it was customary to complete the round, even in a raging blizzard. How would today's players fare under those same conditions?
photo credit: rockmixer The Atlanta History Center is hosting the “Down the Fairway with Bobby Jones” exhibit, the most comprehensive exhibition on Bobby Jones in the world. The exhibit puts Jones' career in proper perspective with historical developments of the game, such as the rise of public courses, golf course desegregation and professionalism in golf.
Although Jones' famous putter, which he called Calamity Jane isn't in the exhibit (it is on display at Augusta National Golf Course) just about everything else of significance is. There are over 200 artifacts and an interactive, animated version of the book Classic Instruction. The admission is $15. This is one of the most interesting historical golf exhibitions in America and one you won't want to miss. Learn more at www.AtlantaHistoryCenter.com. or call 760 771-4653.
photo credit: danperry.com One of the most colorful members of the PGA Tour, Tommy Bolt was born on March 31, 1916. He began his career on the PGA Tour in the 1940s. Bolt won 15 PGA Tour titles including the 1958 U.S. Open Championship. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002.
Tommy Bolt was a very flamboyant character who was known for his fiery temper. Hardly a round passed without him throwing or breaking at least one of his golf clubs. He once said “if you are going to throw your club, throw it towards the hole so you don't have to walk backwards to get it.” His club throwing antics eventually led to the rule by the USGA prohibiting PGA Tour players from throwing clubs. Bolt died in August 2008.
photo credit: jayniebell Throughout history, golf has been one of the best “bang for the buck” sports. Where else can you have four hours of fun for $25 to $50 dollars on most links? America's strong economy has produced new courses in every nook and cranny of the nation, but now we are faced with a severe economic downturn. What will this mean for the average golfer?
Many, who have been hit especially hard by the slowdown, will play much less and may stop playing all together. Unfortunately, many courses will be forced to close and very few new projects will begin. For the average golfer there may be one solution, more time on the practice range. With Range fees so inexpensive, everyone will have the opportunity to sharpen their game.
The first game of golf on record took place in 1456 at the Bruntsfield Links in Edinburgh, Scottland. The game became so popular that throughout the 15th century it spread to England and the British Isles. Although some of the oldest courses are located in Great Britain, Scottland is golf's home.
Originally, it was played on extremely rough conditions in open fields. To begin with there were a total of 22 holes eventually reduced to 11 holes. Towards the end of the 15th Century it was decided to make 18 holes the standard of play.
In it's origin golf was played with a “feathery,” a golf ball that had a leather outer- and was stuffed with wet feathers which when dried, became very firm. The feathery could be hit about 100 to 125 yards.