Golf is one of the most popular sports in the world, with millions of regular players. Here are some fascinating and amazing golf facts that you may not have heard about.
14 Fascinating Golf Facts
Golf in Space
Golf was the first sport to be played on the moon.
American astronaut Alan Shephard went to the moon as part of the Apollo 14 mission and smuggled a 6-iron club head and a couple of golf balls in his spacesuit. He had also modified one of the metal rods used to collect moon samples.
Once on the moon, he fixed the club head to the rod and used the makeshift club to hit the balls. The balls remain on the moon to this day.
The Carbrook Golf Club near Brisbane, Australia has a shark lake. When the area flooded in the 1990s, a number of bull sharks ended up stranded in the course lagoon once the flood waters receded.
Four Under Par
You probably know that a birdie is a one under par score on a hole, an eagle is a two under par score and an albatross is a three under par score. But did you know a four under par score is called a condor?
Golf was featured in both the 1900 and 1904 Olympics but then wasn’t part of the Olympics again until 2016.
There was supposed to be a tournament as part of the 1908 Games in London but all the British golfers boycotted the event. This left the 1904 gold medallist George Lyon as the only competitor. He refused to accept the gold medal.
The 1900 event had 77 entrants, 74 of them American and 3 Canadian. The gold medal was won by Canada.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the annual Indianapolis 500 motor race, has a golf course on its grounds. The course has 14 holes outside the track, but the other 4 holes are in the infield and are accessed via tunnels under the track.
Have you ever wondered why golf balls have dimples? The simple answer is that they create more lift and cause the balls to travel further by changing the aerodynamics.
Experiments have shown that smooth golf balls travel only about half the distance of dimpled balls. Most golf balls have between 300 and 500 dimples.
King James II of Scotland banned the game of golf in 1457 because it was interfering with the military’s archery training. The ban wasn’t lifted until 1502, when Scotland signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with England.
The longest golf course in the world is the Nullarbor Links in Australia. The course spans the states of South Australia and Western Australia and the 18 holes stretch over 1,365 kilometres. Despite this, the course is a par 72. Imagine having that as your local course!
Only one person has ever competed in the Masters and also played in a World Series of Baseball. That man was Sammy Byrd who made a single appearance for the New York Yankees in game 4 of the 1932 World Series.
In 1936, Byrd quit baseball to become a professional golfer. On two occasions he placed in the top ten of the Masters, with his best finish being 3rd place in 1941.
Lack Of Balls
Tiger Woods may be arguably the greatest golfer of all time but even the best of golfers can’t play if they have no balls. So you’d think one of the things you’d definitely check before going out to play, especially in a major championship, would be how many you had.
But when Woods was playing the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Peach he was almost disqualified for running out of balls. He’d started using a new ball the week of the tournament and after his second round was postponed after 12 holes, he went back to his hotel room to practice his putting with his new balls.
When he returned to the course the next day to complete his round, he left the balls he’d been practicing with on the floor of his hotel room. Unknown to Woods, this meant he now only had 4 balls left in his bag.
He then gave two balls away to kids at the course, leaving him with just 2 balls to finish his round. He then proceeded to drive one of them into the water, meaning he only had one ball left. If he’d lost that ball he would have been disqualified from the tournament.
Woods safely completed his round and went on to win the tournament by a record 15 strokes.
Fake Bird Song
American television network CBS used to secretly add fake bird songs to their golf coverage in order to hide awkward silences in their broadcasts.
They were caught out when an avid bird watcher who was viewing their coverage realized that the bird song they were broadcasting was from a bird that wasn’t native to the region where the tournament was being held.
That’s A Lot Of Water
There are over 15,000 golf courses in the USA and one thing the courses need, of course, is water to keep them green. It is estimated that the average American golf course consumes over 300,000 gallons of water every day. That’s a lot of water!
And That’s A Lot Of Balls
Famed American movie director, John Huston, was also something of a prankster. One time, he found out actor Burt Lancaster was playing in a golf tournament nearby so Huston hired a plane and dropped thousands of ping pong balls on the course causing the game to be abandoned.
During the British colonization of India, they introduced the game of golf, among other things. A course was built in Calcutta but it was soon occupied by the monkeys that are found in this part of India.
The monkeys would interfere with play by picking up the golfer’s balls and dropping them elsewhere. The British initially tried to stop this by catching the monkeys but there were far too many of them for this to be practical.
In the end, the British simply invented a new rule – you must play your ball from where the monkey drops it!