Golfing In Perspective: History, Traditions And Rules

Most American fans take pride in the fact their three main sports of football, baseball and basketball all have strong American roots. However, golfers of all stripes and nationalities revel in enjoying a sport with a revered history and a set of traditions that make the game truly unique. Following uncompromising rules and using a special vocabulary, many golfers seem to enjoy being part of a 500-year old tradition as much as they get pleasure out of being on the course.

Competing Against Oneself

Perhaps the single biggest distinction that golfers identify with in their sport is the sense in which they compete first against themselves. Instead of teams and referees, golfers are supposed to police themselves, even if they are on the course playing alone. Championships have been lost for not properly signing a scorecard, and a sense of honor, not an observer, dictates assessing personal penalties when due.

Players spend a lifetime seeking their personal bests, playing certain courses and holes over and over to determine the best way to take each shot. Even when paired in teams for recreational and charity games, the total on an individual scorecard is the key measure of each golfer's satisfaction with any 18 holes played.

When it comes to the language of golf, even most non-golfers recognize use of the term "Fore" as a tradition belonging to the game of golf alone. Rooted in the military discipline of artillerymen shouting warnings to troops on the front line, the use of "afore" apparently seemed appropriate for the small white missiles sent downrange in the game. Other terms, such as birdie, eagle, bogey, mulligan and links all have their own origins (some disputed) and meanings, adding to the richness of the game.

Accepting Change Reluctantly

While there have been a number of changes in the clothing worn and the equipment used, golfing in the 21st century is remarkably similar to the game played in the 1500s. Technology has changed the types of balls and clubs used, but the acceptance of these changes is notably slow and tightly controlled. Each country has its own regulatory golf body, but the consistency between these groups makes playing golf in the U.S. virtually the same as playing in Australia or India.

In fact, the rules in golf have remained so unchanged, there are fewer than one or two major changes or modifications every few years. The reluctance to actually change rules leads the golf associations to render decisions each year, adding to the interpretations of existing rules of the game.

Golfers celebrate their traditions and history as they each set out to shave a stroke or two off of their personal handicap. Contact a company like Sterling Golf Services for more information about the greatest game.