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Golf is a game which probably derives its name from the German kolbe, a club; in Dutch, kolf -- which last is nearly in sound identical and might suggest a Dutch origin, which many pictures and other witnesses further support.
One of the most ancient and most interesting of the pictures in which the game is portrayed is the tailpiece to an illuminated Book of Hours made at Bruges at the beginning of the 16th century. The original is in the British Museum. The players, three in number, have but one club apiece. The heads of the clubs are steel or steel covered. They play with a ball each. That which gives this picture a peculiar interest over the many pictures of Dutch schools that portray the game in progress is that most of them show it on the ice, the putting being at a stake. In this Book of Hours they are putting at a hole in the turf, as in our modern golf. It is scarcely to be doubted that the game is of Dutch origin, and that it has been in favor since very early days. Further than that our knowledge does not go. The early Dutchmen played golf, they painted golf, but they did not write it.
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It is uncertain at what date golf was introduced into Scotland, but in 1457 the popularity of the game had already become so great as seriously to interfere with the more important pursuit of archery.
Golf has from old times been known in Scotland as "The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf." Though no doubt Scottish monarchs handled the club before him, James IV is the first who figures formally in the golfing record.
The immense amount of golf-playing, the large industry in the making of clubs adn balls, in the upkeep of links, in the actual work of club-carrying by the caddies, and in the instruction given by the professional class, is obvious.