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The 'Royal & Ancient' game's earliest records

In the Wall Street Journal, John Paul Newport writes -

A parliamentary decree urged by Scotland's King James II in 1457 banned golf because its addictive nature was apparently preventing the country's citizen-soldiers from keeping their archery skills in tune. A century later, the charges filed against Mary Queen of Scots in England (resulting in the loss of her head) included that she callously teed it up "a few dayes eftir" her husband, Lord Darnley, was murdered. The original rules of golf, 13 in all, were committed to paper in 1744 by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.

Golfers in 15th century Scotland may not have been practicing archery, but they were certainly taking aim. And poor Mary. In our century she'd be celebrated for rising above sorrow in the spiritual kingdom of golf. Newport describes some of the game's key modern texts.

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