5 Ways Golf Has Changed Since Its Existence

The game of golf is rooted deeply in the past, and most of its rules have either been changed or eliminated altogether over the years. With the help of ruleshistory.com, we are going to look at five ways golf has changed since its existence.

Now, if you played golf in the early days — in the mid-19th century — you would have used long wooden heads and clubs. The wooden shafts would be used to hit the extremely expensive balls which were called “featheries.” These balls were made of leather that was stitched together and then stuffed with goose feathers.


That sounds like a joke, but it’s the truth. That is how the game was played during its earliest origins. However, things have drastically changed in the last 150 years, and in particular over the last 20 years. Nowadays, golfers usually hit the ball using cavity-back irons and huge metal-headed woods. They also often wear lightweight shoes that have plastic spikes on them.


Teeing You Ball By The Previous Hole

This is one of the earliest known rules of the game and was written by Gentlemen Golfers in 1744. It stated that after holing, the players were required to lay their clubs down and then set off for the next hole right there. As the rules developed, players were allowed to tee off from a faraway location until a point where the golf courses started practicing how to install tee boxes in order to mark the start of each hole.


Tossing The Ball Over Your Shoulder

In this rule, the player himself was required to drop the ball. He would then face the hole, then stand erect and finally drop the ball from behind his shoulder. Hard to believe but this is actually true. It started in 1908 and it is what golfers had to do after incidents that required the ball to be dropped, such as hitting the ball out of bounds or hitting it into water.

This rule changed in 1984 when the USGA changed the rule. Golfers are now required to stand erect and hold the ball at arm’s length before they drop it on the ground.

Your Opponent Playing Your Ball

This rule stated that when a ball lies in the mud, sand or amongst some rubbish, the obstructions would not be removed. If the player feels that they cannot play the game due to the obstructions, his opponent would pay the ball for them. The rule is from 1828, and it allowed one player to hijack the ball of another player. It has, however, since been changed.


Playing A Ball That Landed In Poop

Now, this was a very strange rule. It stated that if your ball falls near cow dung, human ordure, or any other type of such nuisance, on a fair green, you were either going to lose it or lift it. If you lifted it, you would then throw it over your head behind the said nuisance. This was as per the rules of 1776. Needless to say that this rule no longer exists.

Amateurs Couldn't Play With Professionals

In this rule, a competitor would only play with another professional if he was authorized by the green committee. He was not allowed to willingly receive any advice from anyone other than his caddie in any way and if he did, he would be disqualified. This was a rule that was put in place in 1904.

For example, if you wanted to play with a pro, like Tiger Woods, you were definitely out of luck, and the rules prohibited amateurs from playing with professionals. This has been changed since then.

Image source: en.wikipedia.org


Golf has greatly evolved over the years. Just looking at some of the early images of the game will tell you how far the game has come. But, the tools used to play golf are perhaps the biggest changes that have happened since its existence. In fact, each year, something new comes up.

The driver heads have actually doubled in size over the last 10 years and have now been capped to 460cc in 2004 by the USGA. In addition, golf shoes, which were more like church shoes with spikes at the bottom, have also evolved to look like athletic cross-trainer shoes that have plastic spikes.

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