Pine Nuts: A short history of golf |

Pine Nuts: A short history of golf

Golf was invented or discovered, whichever you like, in Scotland in the mid-1400s, and became hugely popular almost overnight. Golf in Scotland in 1460 was so popular that one could not walk to the post office without getting hit by a golf ball …

Scotland’s King James was outraged. His entire army of archers threw down their bows, tossed their arrows into the bog and took to golfing. The 19th hole became the most popular place in Scotland to gather together following a match to tell lies and pass laws. Golf was king, and King James was mad as a wet hen. So what did King James do? He outlawed golf! Yes, he outlawed golf, entirely.

Well, you’ve probably heard the term, “The Troubles?” This is where it all started. First of all, caddies took to the streets displaying hand-made signs that read, “Archery is sooo yesterday! Get out and golf!”

The King of England, I forget his name just now, got wind of this changing of the guard in Scotland from archery to golf and announced to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, “Now is the time to take Scotland! But the Chancellor of the Exchequer objected emphatically, “No, your Kingship, I have a better idea, let’s take up golf!”

And that’s exactly what they did, they took on the Scots in golf and whipped them in the second All Scotland Open, and that’s when the Real Troubles started. The Scots were so upset after losing to the Brits in the All Scotland Open that they dropped their golf clubs, picked up their bows, retrieved their arrows from the bog, and let the Brits have it where it hurt.

Then golf sort of disappeared for a generation or two, until along came Balgaire, a giant of a man who could hit a golf ball 300 meters, and everybody dropped their haggis and turned out to watch Balgaire play. Balgaire became the first person to score a Condor, a hole in one on a par five, a feat only accomplished four times even to today, 2020.

Balgaire also invented the first game in which to bet while playing golf, “Bingo-Bango-Bongo.” Here’s how it works …

Bingo: The first player in the group to get the ball on the green.

Bango: The player whose ball is closest to the pin once all balls are on the green.

Bongo: The player in the group who is first to hole out.

Balgaire is also credited with buying the house a round at the 19th hole following the sinking of a hole in one, which Balgaire accomplished at least once a week.

So the next time you’re out playing golf, maybe on one of Tahoe’s spectacular courses, Edgewood being my favorite, remember Balgaire with a tip of your hat on the 18th hole. And at the 19th hole, if your pocketbook can stand the strain, buy the house a round.

Here’s to Balgaire and the great game of golf …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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