There are many theories on how and where golf began, but only a few certainties. One theory goes back to Roman times to a game played in the streets by Roman boys with a leather ball stuffed with feathers. Another suggestion is that a game played in Holland on the ice and frozen canels called Het Kolven is where golf started. The games clubs were called kolb, or kolf. Many believe the game was brought across the North Sea by the Dutch traders to Scotland, where they evolved kolf into the early forms of golf.
One fact we do know is that the "birth" of golf happened on the northwest shores of Scotland, perhaps as early as the twelfth century. It slowly spread throughout Scotland until 1456 when King James II declared that futeball and golfe (as it was spelled) no longer be played. He thought it was taking too much time away from the mens archery practice.
One fact we do know is that the "birth" of golf happened on the northwest shores of Scotland, perhaps as early as the twelfth century. It slowly spread throughout Scotland until 1456 when King James II declared that futeball and golfe (as it was spelled) no longer be played. He thought it was taking too much time away from the mens archery practice.The ban on golfe was unofficially lifted on February 11, 1502 when King James IV signed the Treaty of Glasgow where he promised perpetual peace with England. King James IV, a golfe lover himself, played golfs first "officially documented" match on the 3rd of February, 1504 with the Earl of Bothwell. Soon the Treaty of Glasgow fell apart and King James was killed, but golf lived on.
The first golf balls were probably made of wood. Wooden balls may have been made of hardwoods, such as: beech and boxroot. They were made and used from around the 1400's into the 17th century. These facts are conjecture based on little written information. Artifacts datable from this period are virtually non existent today.
During the 1400's, golf balls were developed made of a leather covering stuffed with feathers. In the 1840's various experiments were performed to make a golf ball from Gutta Perchia, the gum from the Palaquium tree. Gutta Perchia balls entered the golfing world in 1848, with smooth exteriors. It was discovered that an old damaged ball flew better and truer than a new one, so in the 1850's it was normal to hand cut the balls prior to sale.
The rubber cored ball was patented by Coburn Haskell in 1898, and by 1900 a thread winding device had been invented to allow the new ball to be made by the thousands. As with it's predecessor, the gutty, the new ball was uncontrollable in flight. The first Haskell balls had a light mesh pattern popular with gutty balls. James Foulis accidentally remade a Haskell in a gutty press with a bramble marking. The change in performance was dramatic and soon the bramble, or heavy mesh pattern, became universal until the the reversal of the bramble to form the modern dimple. Metal headed clubs were not popular because the balls were not durable enough. The metal irons damaged the soft cover on the balls too much, so ball technology improved prior to the common use of metal headed irons.
An important component in the evolution of golf balls is the variety of materials used to fabricate them. Each new material changed the golf ball's flight characteristics. Each of the different types of balls used affected aspects of the game such as the design of clubs, the style of play, the length of golf courses and the economics of playing.