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For the love of golf

By Florence Gordon

Published 1:03 PST, Fri November 24, 2023

Since 1552, golf has been played at St. Andrews, Scotland. It was here where the 18-hole round of golf was established. In 1744, the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers wrote down the first rules of the game, known as the Thirteen Articles. Over the next 100 years, those 13 rules were adopted by more than 30 clubs. 

In 1899, an attempt by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews delivered the first consolidated rules code. During this same period, the United States Golf Association was formed in New York City. The USGA’s rules converged, consolidating these two entities as the two main governing bodies of the game.

St. Andrews may be known as the "home of golf," but in the early 2000s, Chinese historians claimed their ancestors were playing the game long before the Scots. A 2006 exhibit in the Hong Kong Heritage Museum laid out what its curators said is evidence that, people in ancient China played a version of golf (called chuiwan—or "hit ball") as long ago as 1368. The museum displayed an enlargement of a part of a Ming Dynasty scroll "The Autumn Banquet" showing participants of an imperial court hitting a ball toward a hole in the grass.

America’s origins in golf, on the other hand are closely linked with Scotland. In 1743, David Deas, a 21-years old slave trader, received one of the first documented shipments of golf equipment in the American colonies sent from Edinburgh, Scotland. Deas had grown up in Edinburgh, playing the game on a five-hole course, where the first rules of golf were established.

Golf is one sport that breaths tradition. If you are someone who loves the sport you understand its tradition: dress code, rules of the game and integrity as a player. A sport that can be played as a onesome or a foursome, for fun, recreation, competitively and professionally. My husband and I took up golf in our early thirties when our kids were old enough to play with us because a family golf membership was very affordable. For years we played for the fun and exercise, but it wasn’t until we moved to Vancouver a decade later and joined a golf club to meet new friends that I realized I don’t have an established handicap, so I took a maximum of 36. 

At that time Golf Magazine published golf lessons in each publication, I’m one that learns from reading so I cut out all the lessons, made a book to study from and went to the driving range every day that first summer in Richmond. At the time, I think my first set of clubs came from a local department store, then one day a sales rep was at the driving range offering test trials with Yonex clubs (the irons had graphite shafts and I believe the woods had boron shafts). To go from steel shafts to this new technology was an incredible feel so Christmas came early that year. Researching and practice, practice, practice paid off as I watched my handicap go from 36 down to 18.   

My husband and I still played for fun sprinkled with a little competition. We were part of 4 couples who played every weekend (the women played together and the men played together). To make it interesting the winning team received a toonie. The passing of the toonie became quite popular as everyone in the club house would ask who was holding the toonie. We built wonderful friendships at the golf club; we travelled all over the world, always with our golf clubs and here is where our journey began. 

I would be remised if I didn’t share a few golf stories because that’s all part of the game. We were at an Arizona golf club, the starter said “I have to put you with another player, do you mind”. Marty was ‘Mr. GQ’ from his Ralph Lauren golf wardrobe to even a Ralph Lauren golf bag. After introductions we asked what he did: He was the chief executive officer of a company that designed the clothing for Paul Newman’s race car team and Paul and Joanne were his neighbours, he was on the Board of Augusta’s illustrious home of the Masters. My husband and I thought hmmm, could that be true. At the end of 18 holes, he asked if we were going into the lounge, could he join us. That’s when we discovered what a truly nice guy he was and ended up playing several more rounds of golf together. Several months later, Marty flew to Toronto with Paul Newman for the Molson Indy and invited us to have lunch and watch the race with he and Paul. It was an amazing experience that came out of a game of golf. A few months ago, I wrote a story about Celestine Prophecy, well this was one of those Celestine moments.

My husband and I were at a conference in Vegas and two clients asked us to play a round of golf. When we got to the first tee, they were all single digit handicapped. Don wanted me as his partner because my handicap at 18 gave us a stroke on every hole. The game was back and forth match wise, and as we teed off on the eighteenth hole the game was all tied up. It was a par 4 and on the second shot my partner was off the fairway deep into the trees, I was short of the green with a sand trap in front of me and an elevated downhill green to the pin. My husband and his partner were on the green in two, both with long downhill putts so one of them should at least par the hole. 

While waiting for my partner who was still hunting for his ball, I was asked to go ahead and hit. At best I prayed that the ‘lob shot’ that I had practiced for months would come through because to get the ball up high enough to clear the sand trap yet stop it on a downhill green would take a miracle. Well, that miracle happened. The ball landed softly on the green and slowly made it to the pin and went into the hole. The look on my husband and his partner’s face was worth a million dollars. Scoring a 3 less a stroke, our team came in with a 2 and even if they one putted, their birdie didn’t beat our eagle. When my partner saw me jumping up and down shouting, he came running up to see what happened. At dinner that night, everyone in the room had heard about this shot from the golf gods.

Over the years, we have created so many golf memories, travelled to so many destinations and built a network of friends. I know every golfer has stories to tell on the nineteenth hole and that’s a big part of the game of golf. Whether it’s hitting balls at a driving range or playing a round, enjoy the moment.

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