Stamp Matters - Golf

Stamps showing Golf Courses

Golf is one of the most popular sports/pastimes in the world today. Its devotees laud the challenges the game provides, both at a competitive level between a group of players and at a personal level. Every player strives for perfection in every shot but perfection is hampered by any number of obstacles. Besides the personal physical attributes of each person, terrain, weather conditions, grass length, noise, and a myriad of other conditions can all affect the outcome of every shot.

On the other hand its detractors look on the game as a nice walk spoiled.

The basic idea of golf is to hit a ball with a curved stick into a series of holes in as few shots as possible. Over time the implements have expanded in number and in performance, each trying to make the game less frustrating and easier for the golfer. Clubs can hit the ball further and with greater control, the ball can travel further and straighter and the course can be in immaculate condition, mown to within an inch of its’ life and still the golfer is plagued with bad lies and worst of all, a ball sitting, quivering on the lip of the cup with no strong wind or an earthquake in sight.

The modern game originated in Scotland before 1457, when it was banned by the king because it took men away from archery practice. The ban was overturned in 1502 when a later king took up the game. We can only suppose that the game was still played in the interim on the sly.

Courses varied in length, up to 22 holes and there are even two different types of course, the ordinary course in open countryside and those on the seashore which are known as links. Obstacles such as watercourses and bare patches were part of the hazards of the individual hole and are often incorporated into modern golf courses by sadistic professional course designers. Courses were limited to 18 holes in 1764, although 9-hole courses are allowed for recreational players.

Over time the game developed and rules became necessary as competition increased. The first documented rules appeared in 1744 and today are the same on every course around the world. However, they can be condensed into the tenet known by every golfer, play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.

The home of golf is regarded to be The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and it was here that all rules were deliberated upon and set, from examples of problems that were faced by golfers all over the world. Today the USA has its own set of rules and governing body, as it does.

Stamps depicting the game have been issued singly or in sets by many countries around the world and a golfing stamp collector could do worse than build a collection around his or her obsession.