What is the origin of the word ‘golf’?

What is the origin of the word 'golf'? ‘Golf’ is, unquestionably, an ancient word, but its etymology is uncertain. The first written reference to the word, in its modern form, appears on an Act of Parliament dating from 1457, during the reign of King James II of England, James VII of Scotland, but alternative spellings, such as ‘gouf’, ‘gouff’ and ‘goff’ have also been identified in Scottish documents.

Lingusitically, the general concensus appears to be that the word ‘golf’ is derived from the Middle Dutch word ‘colf’, or ‘kolf, or the Middle High German word ‘kolbe’, meaning ‘club’ or ‘stick’. Indeed, a variety of ‘club-and-ball’ games, including colf, kolf and, in Belgium and France, chole, were played in Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages. In fact, a game called ‘kolf’ is still played, albeit on an indoor course, in the Netherlands.

Of course, it can be argued that the game of golf pre-dates any of these supposedly similar games, none of which has been definitively associated with golf, particularly as the name of a game, rather than a blunt striking instrument. However, the phonetic similarities between the various names cannot be denied and it is not difficult to envisage Flemish, Dutch or German sailors – who would have been regular visitors to the ports on the east coast of Scotland, because of the trade links between their respective countries – importing a game that eventually became modern golf.

What is, or was, ‘Snooker Plus’?

What is, or was, 'Snooker Plus'? ‘Snooker Plus’ was a variation of traditional snooker invented by 15-time world snooker champion Joe Davis and introduced, professionally, at the ‘News of the World’ Snooker Plus Tournament at Burroughes Hall, London in 1959. As the name suggests, ‘Snooker Plus’ included two additional colours, purple, worth ten points, and orange, worth eight. The purple ball was spotted equidistant between the brown and the blue and the orange ball was spotted equidistant between the blue and the pink. According to Davis, ‘This will make scoring possibilities far greater for the average player and will greatly increase the technique required of the top-grade player’.

Indeed, the inclusion of the purple ball meant that the ‘maximum’ break became 15 reds and 15 purples, followed by all eight colours, for a total of 210 points, rather than 147 points in traditional snooker. Aside from the break-building possibilities, the only other innovation of ‘Snooker Plus’ was that, in the event of a tie, the purple was respotted on the black spot. Only Joe Davis and two other former world champions – his younger brother, Fred Davis and John Pulman – contested the ‘News of the World’ Tournament, played in round-robin format, much to the displeasure of other professional players. The tournament attracted little interest and the ‘Snooker Plus’ format never really gained any traction, despite the Billiards Association and Control Council stating that it should have a ‘fair trial’.

Did Jack Charlton ever score for England?

Did Jack Charlton ever score for England? Inevitably, as an England goalscorer, John ‘Jack’ Charlton is overshadowed by his younger brother, Sir Robert ‘Bobby’ Charlton, who won 106 caps, as an attacking midfielder or forward, between 1958 and 1970 and scored 49 goals. By contrast, the older Charlton brother was an archetypal, uncompromising English centre-half, but did not make his debut for the national team until April 10, 1965, less than a month shy of his thirtieth birthday. When he did so, he lined up alongside captain Bobby Moore in the centre of a back four that also included George Cohen and Ray Wilson – as it would in the World Cup Final the following summer – in an international friendly against Scotland at the original Wembley Stadium.

Jack Charlton scored his first goal for England in a 3-0 win over Finland in another international friendly at Olympiastadion, Helsinki on June 26, 1966 and his second in a 2-0 win over Denmark in a similar contest at Parken, Copenhagen on July 3, 1966, in the warm-up to the World Cup finals tournament. Later in his career, Charlton would score twice more, in international friendlies against Romania and Portugal, both at Wembley, but his two competitive goals came in European Championship Qualifying; he scored the final goal in a 5-1 win against Wales at Wembley on November 16, 1966 and the third goal of the game, but the first for England, in a 3-2 defeat by Scotland, also at Wembley, on April 15, 1967. All told, Charlton won 35 caps for England between 1965 and 1970 and scored six goals.

Where, and what, is the ‘Postage Stamp’?

Where, and what, is the 'Postage Stamp'? The ‘Postage Stamp’ is the name of the par-3 eighth hole on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, South Ayrshire, which has hosted the Open Championship on nine occasions. The name was coined when William Park – not to be confused with Willie Park Jr., who won the Open Chanpionship twice, at Prestwick in 1887 and Musselburgh Links in 1889 – described the long, narrow green as ‘a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp’ in an article in ‘Golf Illustrated’ in 1922, but not officially adopted until the Fifties. Indeed, the eighth hole was originally named ‘Ailsa’, after Ailsa Craig, a granite, volcanic island that lies ten miles offshore at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde, but is clearly visible from the elevated teeing ground.

Measuring just 123 yards from the championship tees, the Postage Stamp is, in fact, the shortest hole in Open Championship golf. That said, the sloping green, which measures 40 yards long by 14 yards wide, is protected by five cavernous bunkers, including the infamous ‘Coffin’ bunker, cut into the base of the sandhill that flanks the green to the left. The signature hazard was added when the Old Course was redesigned by five-time Open Champion and renowned golf course architect James Braid in 1922, in preparation for hosting its first Open Championship the following year.

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