TERRE HAUTE —
Golf is not a simple game.
A golf course is made up of 18 holes, all different. There are par-3s, par-4s and par-5s; they all vary in length and elevation, and each has its own challenges. There can be water hazards, trees, sand bunkers, tall grass, hills, valleys — and then, if that’s not enough, there’s probably wind too.
The goal in the game of golf is to get a golf ball from the tee to a hole in the green in as few strokes as possible. In order to do that, we are allowed to hit the ball with a bagful of clubs, no more than 14 clubs in the bag at a time.
The golf ball is at least 1.680 inches in diameter, with a maximum weight of 1.620 ounces. The hole that it must be hit into has a diameter of 4 1/4 inches.
How did the size of the hole become established? Purely by chance, really. A course called Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, Scotland, had invented the first known hole-cutter in 1829, using a pipe that happened to be 4 1/4 inches in diameter. The Royal & Ancient decided for its rules in 1891 that hole sizes should be standard, and they liked that 4 1/4-inch size. Then the rest of the golf world followed suit.
The tools that we use to get the ball from tee to green have changed drastically over the years to the clubs that are made today, which are actually pretty easy to swing and aim with some degree of regularity. The first “clubs,” I imagine, were shepherd’s crooks, just like a boy with a stick and rock, just hitting it around due to boredom.
Somehow, eventually golf was invented, using clubs that we have in museums now that look much like shepherd’s crooks but with a flat face to them, and possibly some metal added. The earliest reference to a set of specially made clubs was in 1502, when King James IV of Scotland commissioned a bow-maker to make his a set. A set of clubs at the time consisted of “Play clubs,” or longnoses, for driving; fairway clubs for medium-range shots; “spoons” for short-range shots; “niblicks,” which were like today’s wedges; and a “putting cleek.”
Nowadays our clubs are a driver, fairway woods (which are sometimes referred to as “metal-woods,” oddly enough), irons, wedges and a putter. Relatively new to the golf-club arena are hybrids, which are a combination of fairway woods and irons. They’re supposed to be easier to hit, and in my experience they are. Many of the sets of clubs sold today have hybrids in place of a few of the longer irons. Sets never come with a 1-iron or 2-iron anymore, and even a 3-iron is getting pretty rare.
The first known golf balls were made out of wood, but in 1618 the “Featherie” was introduced, which was made by stuffing goose feathers into a sphere made of horsehide or cowhide. They were fashioned while wet; then, as the ball dried out, the leather shrank and the feathers expanded, making it a tightly packed and hardened ball. The featherie was used for a couple hundred years, until the gutta percha ball was introduced in 1848. It was made from the rubber-like sap of the gutta tree, found in the tropics.
The golf club and golf ball have come a long way. The game of golf has become an industry unto itself, with clubs, balls, shoes, clothes and accessories all being manufactured and readily available to the public. Many golf courses are being redesigned to keep up with the changes in technology that allow us to hit a golf ball farther, but basically they’re still 18 holes, made up of par-3s, par-4s and par-5s, with various hazards and challenges along the way.
We have clubs and balls today that make the goal of getting the ball into the hole easier than it used to be, but it’s still not easy.
We try to have a repetitive swing that produces a predictable shot, whether it be straight or with a slight draw or a slight fade. Once you can do that, your scores will start getting lower and lower.
If you don’t have enough time or energy to perfect your swing, work on your putting and your short game. Getting down in two from around the green will save you enough strokes so that you can finally break 90 or 80, whichever your goal is. Then you might even think that golf is an easy game.
Quote of the Day: “Golf is a game in which one endeavors to control a ball with implements ill adapted for the purpose.” — Woodrow Wilson
TERRE HAUTE —
Golf is not a simple game.
- On & Off the Course
Death Notice: Feb. 7, 2013
• Gary R. Wright
Donna Lynn Strahla Bown
Donna Lynn Strahla Bown passed away early Friday morning, Jan. 25, 2013, with her children by her side.
‘The Match’ pitting amateurs vs. pros recalled 62 years later
Quote of the Day: “I play golf with friends sometimes, but there are never friendly games.” — Ben Hogan.
Bubba Watson has had a busy fall. Not only did he play all the way to the final round of the FedEx Championships, and in the Ryder Cup, he also played in an event commemorating a very famous match played at Cypress Point in 1956, pitting two of the greatest golf pros at the time against two of the best amateurs.
Come to think of it, all four were some of the best golfers of all time. This year’s event was celebrating The First Tee’s exceeding $100 million in pledges to reach 10 million new young people. It wasn’t televised and kept very quiet; only 225 people were in the gallery.
One of the people in the gallery was Mark Frost, the author of a book titled “The Match,” which is about that match played 62 years ago that was re-enacted in modern terms last week. The pros in 1956 were Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson and the amateurs were Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward. It was supposed to have been a private affair, built around a wager by two millionaires, George Coleman and Eddie Lowery.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Golf from the wrong side of the brain
Imagine this scenario: a woman, small in stature (possibly freckled), walks into a hospital emergency room and says, “I have an emergency, I need a doctor quickly!” The admitting nurse, ever trying to be helpful, asks what the emergency is.
Farmers looking at widely varying yields
Combines will roll through fields this weekend, bringing in the harvest from a summer with nearly no rain.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Golf debut in London would have been nice
As the Olympics get underway in London this weekend, I was thinking it’s too bad that the Olympic committee decided too late to add golf as one of the sports for this event; instead it will be added to the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Getting to Hoosier country’s best golfing venue part of the fun
If you are looking for Indiana’s premier golfing destination, then you should look no further than French Lick.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Indiana's Pete Dye courses worth the drive
You’ve probably heard of the Robert Trent Jones Golf trail throughout Alabama, but you might not be aware that Indiana has its own “Pete Dye Golf Trail” comprised of seven courses.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Fathers typically a big influence on golfing sons
Some events fall naturally into place around holidays. The Fourth of July always falls somewhere during Wimbledon, giving all of the Yanks in attendance something to be boisterous about, to the chagrin of their hosts; The Masters often, but not always, ends on Easter Sunday, which is fitting since golfers find it such a reverent occasion.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Memorial just one of many visions of Jack Nicklaus
When Jack Nicklaus was a young man, the golfer he most admired was Bob Jones.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: With some tricky rules, golf is not a walk in the park
Golf is not a casual sport, even though it has a term called “casual water.”
On and off the course: Sycamores seeded sixth heading into MVC golf tourney
It wasn’t too long ago that Indiana State University didn’t even have a women’s golf team.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: A hard ticket to come by
This is the weekend of the Masters Tournament, the first of the four major tournaments.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Some things on golf course are worse than steep putts
It’s not often that anything gets more scary on a golf course than a steep downhill putt, but on some courses around the world, things a little more on the supernatural side might give you a bigger fright!
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: The shot heard round the world
I don’t know if the Golf Channel will show a “Best Shots of 2011” highlight reel, much like ESPN does for baseball or football.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: The Red, White and Blue visits the Isle of Green
In 2006, the Ryder Cup was held in Ireland at The K Club in County Kildare.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Fall may be coming but golf season is far from over
Once the major tournaments are over with, what’s there to look forward to in the world of golf?
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Golf… simplified!
Golf is not a simple game. A golf course is made up of 18 holes, all different. There are par-3s, par-4s and par-5s; they all vary in length and elevation, and each has its own challenges. There can be water hazards, trees, sand bunkers, tall grass, hills, valleys — and then, if that’s not enough, there’s probably wind too.
On and Off the Course: Northern Ireland builds on golf history
Northern Ireland is only about 5,452 square miles in area and has a population about the same as West Virginia, which is about 1,880,344.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Women’s Open at the Broadmoor
This is the weekend of the U.S. Women’s Open, and this year it’s being played at The Broadmoor, East Course, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: The Fort Golf Course: A Walk in the Park…
Indiana has some pretty spectacular state parks, but one of them gives you the ability to “spoil a good walk” by chasing a little white ball.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Father’s Day is a good day for golfers
Most people consider the time around Christmas to be the gift-buying season.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Playing with lead a difficult task
As exciting as last week’s Masters was, with six players being tied for the lead at one point on Sunday, it was very difficult watching Rory McIlroy fall apart to shoot an 80.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Masters a rite of spring
This is Masters weekend, the grand kickoff to the golf season for a lot of golfers. Sure, there have been tournaments on TV, because the professionals have been playing in Hawaii, California, Texas, Dubai, and other areas not so affected by winter as we are here in the Midwest, but to me, watching The Masters is a rite of spring.
ON THE OFF THE COURSE: Some history on the Ryder Cup
I fell asleep in way too many history classes to ever qualify as a history buff. However, since I have grown up a bit (not much), I enjoy learning about all kinds of history. I often have questions about how something began, or how something came to be.
On and Off the Course: Purdue's Kampen Course a gem in Indiana's rough
About a month ago, Indiana was still heavily mired in heat and humidity, making outdoor activities such as golf less appealing than usual. At that time it felt like the repressive heat would never go away, it would never rain again, and all of the grass was just going to continue to wither and die. And the month prior to that we kept getting rained out of golf events!
On and Off the Course: Successful golfers know ... focus is the key
I have a good friend who coached his daughter’s basketball team for a number of years, and told me that his theme with the girls was always “focus”, until it was ingrained in their brains. Now when they play high school ball, if they hear “focus” yelled from the stands, they know the source.
On and Off the Course: Technology adds even more fun to the course
You’ve hit a drive into some brush in an area marked as a hazard, but you can’t find the ball to prove it is there. And no one actually witnessed it go in the hazard. You just think that’s where it probably is. What is the rule for this situation?
On and Off the Course: Anthony Gonzalez First Tee Classic a worthwhile charity event
On Monday, I worked as a volunteer for the Anthony Gonzalez First Tee Classic, Golf Tournament and Auction at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Indianapolis. It was an absolutely beautiful day, with clear blue skies, just a few wispy clouds here and there and a high temperature of about 76 degrees.
On and Off the Course: Trends show golf in decline
You don’t have to watch the news or read the paper to understand that America is struggling on the economic front. The evidence can be witnessed at the local golf course.
- More On & Off the Course Headlines
- Death Notice: Feb. 7, 2013