Golf’s Urban Legends

July 14, 2022

Over the years, I have always been fascinated by urban legends, but are they true or false? Do alligators live in the sewers of New York? Does Area 51 house an alien spaceship or have alien bodies hidden away? What about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster or the total number of Tiger’s “dates?”  What is real and what is fiction?

Well, here is a true/false “urban legend” golf quiz that will test your skill to determine fact from fiction, so give yourself 10 points for each correct answer.

Urban Legend 1: True or False: Since the game of golf was invented by Scottish men, ladies were not allowed to participate in the game.  As a result, the term GOLF is an acronym for “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.”

Urban Legend 2: True or False: In 1858, the total number of holes on a golf course was reduced from 20 to 18 during a meeting of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, when a distinguished member told his friends that it took him 18 holes to finish a fifth of Scotch (one shot per hole).

Urban Legend 3: True or False: A Tiger Woods Rookie PGA trading card (printed in a magazine) sold in 1996 for $125,000 in 2001, when Woods won the Grand Slam (The Masters, British Open, US Open and PGA Championship).

Urban Legend 4: True or False: In 1998, at the Palm Beach Breakers Golf Course, a golfer was attacked and killed by a rogue alligator whom the locals nicknamed Ole Mose.

Urban Legend 5:  True or False: A golfer, who liked to chew on his tees, got sick after a round and died a few days later from being poisoned by pesticide that had been sprayed on the tee box grass.

While you ponder the questions, I will give you some trivia that you may need to know some night at a golf fundraising dinner:

Did You Know?

1. Arnold Palmer was the first golfer to appear on the cover of Time magazine.

2. Exclusive Japanese golf clubs have female caddies.

3. Before 1920, it was a fashion no-no to unbutton your jacket on the course.

4. In 1966, “Champagne” Tony Lema, who won the 1964 British Open, died when his private plane crashed on a golf course in Lansing, Illinois. It came to rest in a water hazard on the seventh hole.

Answers to the Urban Legend True or False Quiz

Urban Legend 1: False. Even though it sounds like a natural conclusion to the acronym, the name is widely believed by historians to come from the Scottish word, “gowf”, which means “to strike.”

Urban Legend 2: False. This is a good bar story, but the Scots were sober in 1764 when they formalized the number of holes from as high as 24 down to as low as five on some courses in Scotland, to our present 18.

Urban Legend 3: True.  In 1996, Sports Illustrated for Kids printed a page of “young athletes to watch,” trading cards. In 2001, Woods fever was on the rise and the card sold to a collector for $125,000 in pristine condition. (That was more money than Ben Hogan made during his entire professional career).

Urban Legend 4:  False. This was an urban legend started on the internet with a fake story that included photos of a crocodile, which were taken in Borneo. Breakers Golf Course, in Palm Beach Florida is a safe place to play golf. (Don’t believe everything you see on the internet)

Urban Legend: 5: True. In 1982, Navy Lt. George M. Prior finished his round at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia and complained of a headache, nausea accompanied by a fever. He spent four days in the hospital and died a painful death. The cause was a lethal dose of Daconil, a fungicide, which was routinely sprayed on the golf course two times a week. (Remember, don’t put the golf tees in your mouth)

Score Yourself

40-50 points: You spend too much time reading about golf. Make a tee time soon, but don’t chew your tees.

30-40 points: Do not take Scotch onto the course to prove urban legend 2 is really true.

0-20 points: You really believe that “gowf” is a Scottish word for golf, so take your loving wife or girlfriend to the course for a round of fun and togetherness!

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