Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Little Golf Lesson

Golfing suits for men, 1905
Early 1900s golfing suit attire
by Janet Chester Bly

Golf originated from a game played on the coast of Scotland during the fifteenth century.

 A pebble was hit, instead of a ball, around sand dunes using a stick or club. After 1750, golf evolved into the sport of today. In 1774, Edinburgh golfers wrote the first standardized rules for the game.

History of Golf Balls

Golfers soon tired of hitting pebbles and tried other objects, such as thin leather bags stuffed with feathers. The gutta-percha ball, invented in 1848 by Reverend Adam Paterson, was made from the sap of the Gutta tree. This ball could be hit a maximum distance of 225 yards.

In 1898, Coburn Haskell introduced the first one-piece rubber cored ball. These balls could reach a distance of 430 yards. According to The Dimpled Golf Ball by Vincent Mallette, in the early days of the game, balls were smooth. Players noticed that as balls became old and scarred, they traveled farther. Players began to intentionally pit them.

“The beat-up balls reacted differently to the forces they encountered while flying through the air,” Mark Maughmer, professor or aerospace engineering at Penn State, explains.

In 1905, William Taylor added the dimple pattern, starting the modern day trend. In historical novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, Brannon uses the new-fangled dimpled variety in his first attempt at tournament play.

Baffing spoon golf club, 1905
Early 1900s baffing spoon golf club

History of Golf Clubs

In the early 1900s, the baffing spoon was a popular golf club. Golf clubs have evolved from wooden shaft clubs to sets of woods and irons. They are more durable and have better weight distribution. They can also better withstand harder whacks.

History of Caddies

Golf bags first appeared in the 1880s. "The beast of burden" is an old nickname for the caddies who carried them for the players. The first powered golf cart appeared around 1962, invented by Merlin L. Halvorson.

1921 golfer using sand tee box
for making sand tees

History of Golf Tees

Tools for raising a ball higher for a more effective shot began appearing in the late 1800s. The earliest tees were clumps of dirt. In 1889, the first documented portable golf tee was patented by Scottish golfers William Bloxsom and Arthur Douglas. Made from rubber, they had three vertical rubber prongs that held the ball in place, just propped on the fairway. 

In 1892, Percy Ellis patented a rubber tee that pegged the ground with a metal spike. A later tee included a cup-shaped top to better hold the golf ball.

However, sand tees were the norm when the commercial varieties weren't available. A little wet sand shaped in a conical mound, though messy, worked well to get the ball flying air bound.

Stuart Brannon's Final Shot
Hardback Edition

In Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, by Stephen Bly and co-authored with Janet Chester Bly and his three sons, Lady Harriet Reed-Fletcher sponsors a Gearhart, Oregon celebrity golf tournament in 1905 to benefit the Willamette Orphan Farm. She talks ex-lawman Brannon into participating, along with other famous persons such as Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody, and a young W.C. Fields. He grapples with learning the game while intent on finding his missing U.S. Marshal friend.

Stuart Brannon's Final Shot
Kindle & Paperback
Bly Books link to Stuart Brannon's Final Shot:
or Amazon:


Janet Chester Bly is the widow of award-winning western author Stephen Bly. Together they published 120 fiction and nonfiction books, including The Stuart Brannon Series, including a number of historical romance novels. Janet is working on her first solo novel since losing her writing partner, to be released later this year. Janet lives in the mountains of north-central Idaho, 45 miles from her three married sons and their families.
Golf swing by author Janet Chester Bly
Janet Chester Bly taking swing
near Salt Lake using
portable tee mat
Find out more at http://www.blybooks.com/
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  1. My daughter loves golf! I'll have to send her this way. I like putt-putt, does that count?

  2. Hi Janet, terrific post! I'm not a golfer, but you make it sound so inviting. You look like you've got the swing down pat. I'm looking forward to reading "Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot."

    1. Greetings, Linda! Maybe the swing's okay, but not the stamina to do a full 18 holes! Especially without my golf partner! Let me know what you think of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot. Blessings, Janet

  3. Great post! My eighty five year old dad will love this and I will surely share it with him. Thank you!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    1. Melanie: Thanks for the note and for sharing the post with your dad. Blessings, Janet

  4. Janet, my husband doesn't play golf,but he's glued to the TV when major tournaments are on TV. We even have the golf channel. I tried my hand at it, but I made more holes in the turf than I did getting the ball into one. Miniature golf became my game. I didn't realize the game was that old.

    1. Greetings, Martha: Used to have the Golf Channel and watched it much. Late hubby loved golf and played it well. Was on the high school and college golf team at one time. He played even better than then in his last few years. I do like mini-golf better these days. Prayers for your hubby's health challenges! Blessings, Janet