The History of Golf
This is the true story of how it came to be...
“The beginning began soon after Man lost his tail. No longer able to swing from branch to branch with his fellow monkeys, Man was forced from the trees to dwell forevermore on the ground, or in it, as the case may be. Once on the ground, Man learned he must hunt for food. The tasty bananas and coconuts now hung high overhead and out of reach. While Man proved a good hunter, his many battles with the Hairy Mammoths and the nasty tigers with long teeth took their toll—Man found the hunt stressful. It was then his friendly Shrink suggested that Man must learn to relax. Man longed for something else, but knew not what that something could be.
And so it was that one day a single solitary Man found a slender limb to which was attached a long green vine. He picked the slender limb and when he did, the green vine followed. He played with the limb. He waved it round and around. He waved it back and forth above his head. And, lo the green vine followed the limb wherever it went. The Man was pleased.
Tiring, the Man ceased waving the limb. The end of the vine fell into the stream the Man was standing near. In the wink of an eye, an amazing thing happened—a large fish bit into the vine so violently that the vine became entangled in its teeth. The fish could do nothing but follow as the Man pulled it ashore. The Man smiled. Life was good. Man finally had found something to do during his periods of relaxation.
And so it came to pass that Man relaxed by chasing his friend, the fish, with long slender limbs and green vines. The limbs and vines, in turn, gave way to cane and lines of braided fiber. Now, many Men smiled. Life was even better.
And it came to pass that things changed, once again: God, in his wisdom, gave the fish a very small brain. It was, however, big enough to outsmart Man more times than not. Friend fish became difficult to catch. Soon, Man developed better weapons to use in his battle of wits with the fish. Man developed the fly, a “thing” fabricated of fur and feather that looked like the dead bugs found near the water. Man also learned to make a line of gut that he attached to the fly. It was very thin in comparison to the green vine. He called this the tippet. The tippet, in turn, was attached to a piece of slightly thicker gut Man called the leader. Using the pigments of plants and trees, Man made these things he called tippets and leaders as invisible as possible. With braided fibers, leaders of gut and flies, Man enjoyed increased success in catching fish. Man now thought of this activity as sport, and called it Fly Fishing. However, Man still lost many more fish than he caught.
Of all creatures, Man possesses the greatest gift God ever gave to living creatures—the thumb. And so it was that given the ability to wiggle his thumb, Man learned to tie knots—knots to affix the fly to the tippet, the tippet to the leader, and the leader to the line. Sometimes, the knots failed and the fish escaped.
And so it came to pass that a few Men became known as Knot-Tiers. The Knot-Tiers idled away the hours figuring out the many ways a knot can be tied, especially in tying together differing lengths of natural gut. Magic formulas, called recipes, were created. Without the secret recipe, how could you or me expect to catch a fish?
Surely, these Knot-Tiers were brilliant Men, for no ordinary mortal could ever conceive of the hundreds of ways two lines can be joined. Soon the Knot-Tiers began to give names to each knot. Sometimes, the same knot was named many times and called by many different names. Ordinary Man became confused. As so it came to pass that the Knot-Tiers began to write articles and publish books devoted to each knot and what it does and when it does it. But the Knot-Tiers also argued among themselves about which knot was best for this, that, or the other.
And so it was in the later years, Man became afraid of the Knot-Tiers and their many works. Most could not, or would not, learn the 1,684 knots the Knot-Tiers specified as a fly fishing requirement. So it was as time passed, many became disinterested in the gentle art of Fly Fishing. The Knot-Tiers had “done did it,” as they say in the old country.
Many Men found it satisfying to do something that required tying only a single knot—the one that secured the sandals to his feet. These Men found it relaxing to hit a little white ball with a stick, only to hit it again after it was found. Rather than catching a fish, these Men hoped the little ball would roll into one of the mole holes that abound in the ground.
The ancient Fish Gods laughed and laughed—Man, too, had a little brain! And so it was that the sport of golf came to be.” ( © Copyright: Douglas G. Macnair, 1996.)