Monday, November 1

'BORN ON THE LINKS: A Concise History of Golf' By John Williamson


The title is BORN ON THE LINKS: A Concise History of Golf. It's written by John Williamson, an author and lawyer, as well as the founder of Argyle Publishing.

I share Mr. Williamson's interest in golf history, so it was easy for me to say yes when offered this title by his publisher, Lyon's Press. But I was surprised to learn the book was published in 2018, so it's not so new after all.

The paperback edition is 273 pages broken into 14 chapters and four appendices. I noticed the book has a positive rating on Amazon.

At first glance, and with some spot reading, I believe the author has accomplished his goal of putting forth a concise history of the game. There's a good amount of information packed into fewer than 300 pages. Mr. Williamson has a straightforward, just-the-facts style.

The book begins at the beginning, in the 15th century when a golf-like sport migrated from the Netherlands to Scotland. The first three chapters highlight the early history of the game leading up to golf coming to America.

I enjoyed reading some early rules written for a tournament played at Leith Links in Scotland in 1744. There were a total of 13 rules. They were titled "Articles and Laws in Playing at Golf."

No. 10 says, "If a ball is stopped by any person, horse, dog, or anything else, the ball so stopped must be played where it lies."

Some rules were artfully written: "He whose ball lies farthest from the hole is obliged to play first."

This was obviously the precursor to "you're away" and "you're still away." But wouldn't it be fun to occasionally say, "You're obliged to play first"?

The flow of the chapters makes sense. The author has incuded a chapter each about African Americans and women, whose golf stories are not as well known but are still illuminating. Even with barriers to entry, golf has attracted many people from many backgrounds. I have yet to play a sport or game that's more difficult than golf, which, I suspect, is a large part of the attraction.

As six-time Open champion Harry Vardon once said:

"Golf is the master of us all."

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