Golf Clubs and Courses in Scotland - Etymology

Etymology

The word golf was first recorded in the 15th century, appearing twice in an Act of the Scots Parliament of 6 March 1457, in the reign of James II. The Act, which ordered the holding of wappenschaws (English: musterings) four times a year for the purpose of archery practice, stated that "the fut bal ande the golf" (football and golf) were to be "vtterly criyt done" (condemned; lit. "cried down") and "nocht vsyt" (not engaged in; lit. "not used"). Offenders were to be punished by the barony courts, otherwise they were "to be tane be the kingis officiaris" (arrested by the king's officers).

Football (see Football in Scotland) and golf are again both explicitly named and forbidden in two further 15th century Scottish statutes encouraging archery practice, in 1470 and 1491. The 1470 Act, in the reign of James III, again uses the spelling golf, but the 1491 Act, in the reign of James IV, spells it gouff; and variants such as gowf, gowff, gouf became the usual spellings during the Early Modern Period. The Scottish National Dictionary states that "golf represents a revival of the Middle Scots form; Loudoun Gowf Club, Newmilns, retains the old form in its title"; i.e. the spelling changed from Medieval golf to Early Modern gowf, and then back again.

The Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue gives the etymology of the word golf or gouf (with many alternative spellings) as probably from the Dutch kolf (see Kolven, a Dutch indoor ballgame); although the dictionary also records the noun golf (with alternative spellings golfe or golph) as deriving from Middle English golf or goulf or Old French golfe, meaning "a deep pool or hollow; an abyss"; a cognate of modern English gulf.

Read more about this topic:  Golf Clubs And Courses In Scotland

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