A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

The First Golf Game
by Gordon W. Eskridge (Oct 2011)


In 61 B.C. late in the afternoon, the brilliant sun was dropping below the western mountains. The sky and clouds were turning multi colored shades of red, and the snow caped, mountain tops were glowing pinkish white reflecting the sky above while far below them trotted a swarthy skinned young Celtic man standing about five foot one inches tall, weighing one hundred and thirty pounds with sea foam green eyes. He wore a brightly colored plaid red and black kilt and a coarsely woven gray shirt, while on his feet were dark brown dusty ox hide sandals.

In his left hand he carried a plump long haired, brown and white rabbit, holding it by its ears and in his sinewy corded right hand that was held at the ready, his favorite throwing stick. His trusty belt knife, carried in its ox hide sheath, tapped out a quick rhythm at his waist as he jogged quickly along the path toward home.

The temperature had hovered near eighty degrees all day, and a small trickle of sweat ran down his chest as he trotted up the well-worn path leading from the valley below up to the village gate. Through the gate he turned left soon passing through the doorway of his home. As he moved from the hot, bright sun light into the cooler shadowy interior of his family’s home near the ocean, he stopped near the fire place to let his eyes become accustomed to the darker interior of his household.

“Ping! Where are you? Ping! Are you here?” the young man called out as he handed the rabbit to his aunt, who was almost as round as she was tall and the best cook in the family. Aunt Rachel, whose smile reflected a face similar to his own, hefted the rabbit to check its weight. From another room a young man near his own age called out, “Here I am,” and he hurriedly appeared. His face had a straggly beard matching Golf’s own, and while Golf’s hair was bright red, Ping’s was blond. Tucking his throwing stick in his waist band, Golf reached out and gripped, then shook both of the hands that Ping had extended towards him.” Hello! Cousin,” Ping said.

Golf announced, “Ping, I have just thought up a new game and I am going to call it Golf after me.” Ping asked, “What kind of a game is it?” “Well you know how we like to hit things with our clubs,” he replied,” as he swung his arms with his hands close together like he was swinging a club. “Yea,” Ping replied with a smile that said, he agreed. “Well I was chasing a rabbit this morning with my throwing stick his right hand patting the favored stick at his waist and some smooth river rocks to throw at it.” As he spoke he pantomimed his moves.

My first rock hit near him”, he said as he smacked one hand with the other to simulate the sound of the rock hitting dirt. “My second rock glanced off a tree (shown by his right hand bouncing off the palm of his left hand as he made the sounds of “Smack, Zing”) and missed him by a short sword’s blade length.” (He stretched his hands about two feet apart).

Then the rabbit stopped, stood up on his hind legs, and looked back at me as if to say “You couldn’t hit me with a stick”. As Golf said this he hunched over and raised his hands like fore paws then twitched his nose. So I threw my stick at him and missed again, he dodged, (Golf raised his hands to the sides of his head with his index fingers raised to show the rabbit’s ears and made a dodging motion.)

I ran to retrieve my throwing stick and started chasing him again, and then he ran up a hill and dived down a nearby hole.” (Golf again mimicked the actions of the rabbit running in place and simulated diving into a hole.)

Ping, holding up his hands inquiringly asked, “What has that got to do with a new game; everyone has chased a rabbit before.” “Hold on I’m not there yet,” said Golf, holding up his hands in a stopping motion.

Golf continued to mime using his hands, body and facial features as he told his story. “I was frustrated when I lost the rabbit so I ran over to his hole and rammed my stick into the hole to see if I could get the rabbit to run out of it or another hole, but he did not. I looked to see if there was another entrance to that rabbit’s burrow and I wanted to mark this hole so I could find it again. I picked up a long stick and stuck in the hole (his hand spread apart about four feet to show the sticks length). Then I noticed that this stick looked like every other stick, so I tore a piece of my shirt off and tied it on this stick, (waving his hand like a flag in a breeze) and stuck it in the hole ( demonstrated by a downward thrust of his hands) and then I started looking for another hole.”

“As soon as I had moved away from that hole (Golf moved to his left looking behind him) the rabbit popped out of that hole (Golf jumped into the air). “I picked up some more stones and threw them at him,” Golf said this with a throwing motion. “The rabbit dodged them all and it seemed to be laughing all the way up the hill and into another hole,” (Golf danced around and mimed the rabbit laughing then diving into the hole). I got another stick and probed this hole and I still could not reach that rabbit, so I marked this hole like the first one.

“I searched the nearby trees,” Golf said (placing a hand above his eyes like he was searching for something), “and I found what I was looking for: a long limber branch with a fork in it” (he said while shaking the imaginary stick to show how limber it was then his hand moved up each side to show the fork of the branch).

 “I trimmed off the extra leaves and branches with my belt knife and shoved the stick down the hole (showing the stabbing motion of his imaginary stick) until I reached the rabbit, a big smile shown on his face.” “Then I twisted the branch, (twisting his hands with great feeling) until it tangled into the fur of the rabbit; then it was easy to pull it out from the hole,” Golf said. “Then I wacked him on the head,” (with great delight showing on his face as he went through the motions of using his throwing stick to bash the rabbit) and I said “Laugh that off,” then I picked him up by his ears and headed home.

Golf added, “As I moved away from the hill I noticed the two sticks with flags on them and the idea of chasing the rabbit had been fun. So I put the idea of sticks, stones, chasing the rabbit and holes with flags marking them all together and this new game flashed into my head.” Many of the people sitting nearby clapped their hands on their thighs and made hooting sounds of approval for the story.

Golf moved closer to Ping and in a lowered voice said, “First, you get a rabbit’s head and you remove the ears then drop it on the ground and hit it with a stick until you get it into a hole marked by a flag. Then you take it out of the hole. Be careful reaching into rabbit holes once I got bit by a lizard hiding in a rabbit hole. You can see the scar on my thumb and he held it in the fire light to show Ping his scar.” Ping leaned forward, looked at the extended thumb and nodded his head approvingly to show that he could see the scar.

With a swinging motion Golf showed how to hit the rabbits head again and again until you put it into the next hole marked by a flag as he stated “The first person to hit their rabbits head into all the holes wins the game.”

“Well, it sounds like fun except the rabbits head won’t last long, so what would think about filling a rabbit’s skin with straw and wrapping it with wet rawhide so when it dries it will roll better and last longer,” asked Ping. Now that we are not going to use a rabbit’s head we might as well call it a Golf Ball, Ok?” asked Golf. “Ok,” said Ping

“The idea of the first person to get the ball into all the holes would turn it into a fight not a game,” stated Ping. “So let’s make this a gentlemen’s game and count the number of hits it take to put the ball in all the holes; the fewest hits wins the game,” replied Golf. “I like it,” said Ping, but how many holes?” “Well”, Golf thoughtfully stated while holding up his hands and counting his fingers: “I am eighteen winters old so let’s make it eighteen holes.”

Golf said, “You know some people would spend all day getting the ball in the first hole (he hit an imaginary ball all over the place), so let’s put a maximum number of hits for each hole.” “Well, everyone will not be as good as you are so in order to make it more fair why don’t you figure out how many hits it should take,” Ping said. Golf replied while stroking his youthful beard with his right hand, “If we use the average score of four players for each hole that will give us a number that each player should be able to get the Golf Ball in the hole, and we will name this number after my dad, Par”.

“What if a player gets the golf ball in sooner than the Par number?” asked Ping. “Well, to get it in the hole two hits early they would have to hit the golf ball as far as an Eagle flies, so let’s call it an Eagle. “On the other hand, if it is only one hit early let’s call it a Birdie,” said Golf. “But, what if they take more hits than Par?” asked Ping. ”Then, I think the Bogey Man should get them for taking so long and we will call each shot over Par a Bogey,” laughed Golf.

“Now that I think of it the ball should be held steady before you hit it towards the next hole and all of our ground is not flat like the Earth.” “So, let’s take a small bag of moist sand with us and set the ball on a small mound of sand to hold it in place before we hit it,” exclaimed Ping. “That is a great idea,” said Golf.

“We should help the golfer out by using special golf sticks to help them play a better game,” said Golf. A club with a long handle will hit the ball farther then a short handled club so the first one we use to hit with should be called a number one club.”

“A shorter club will be easier to control a hit a shorter distance but be more accurate and we can call it the number two club.” “But, what if you hit the ball into the sand?” Ping asked. “I think if we put a small shovel or spoon on a short stick it would help you get it out of the sand,” he said. “Great!” “Good thinking Golf said.” “We should have something to help us put the ball into the hole and a short stick with a knob on the end would be just the thing,” Golf stated. “Yeah, and we will call it a “Putter”, said Ping. “Now if we wrapped the handles of the clubs with rawhide they will be easier to hang on to,” stated Golf. “That is a smart idea,” said Ping.

“We should make something to carry our clubs and balls in and an old arrow quiver will do the trick, but we will have to make it somewhat longer for the game’s clubs,” said Golf.

While sitting near the Clan’s communal camp fire after a dinner of Bison ribs, Golf and Ping worked on their Golf equipment. The new clubs were measured and trimmed then fire hardened for strength and the handles wrapped with wet rawhide. Ping carved an Eagle in flight on his number one club, a Phoenix on his number two club, a Spoon Bill Crane on his third club and carved a Snake to encircle the shaft of his putter.

Golf carved a Cheetah on his number one club, a Homing Pigeon on the number two club, a Flamingo on his sand wedge and a Turtle on his putter. Two of his other friends enjoyed the story of the rabbit hunt and the game that resulted from it so they joined in by making their own golf clubs and balls.

Early the next morning as the sun broke over the mountains on the east side of their valley, our foursome carrying their new golf bags with shiny clubs and the almost round rawhide covered golf balls started down the trail from the village toward the valley floor to begin working on the world’s first golf course. Having decided that rabbit holes were too deep and not always where you want them, Ping suggested that we take a shovel with a thin blade along to make the holes where we wanted them.

Ping found a small almost flat grassy area that we could start from, and because it was in the shape of a “T”, I named it the Tee off place. Then because the Tee off place pointed down the valley, we all hit our golf balls in that direction.

Golf observed, “You know the sound that is made when you hit a golf ball well, makes you smile, and by the look of the smiles on your faces everyone hit their ball very well.” The valley stretched out before them as they moved out on that momentous day. Our golf balls often hit rocks and rebounded in all directions so we decided to remove all the rocks so we would all have a fairer chance to for the ball to go one direction and felt that this made the game more fair so we named this part of the valley the fair way.

After one hit with each of our clubs, we came to another small grassy spot and decided to put a hole in the center of the green grass. We named this spot Green. Every one knocked their golf ball in the hole in five hits so we made this a Par five hole. We made a flag with the number one on it and stuck it in the hole.

Having looked around for a new Tee off spot we did not find one close by so we made one with a base of horse dung fertilizer, making sure to not use the green stuff, mixed it with sand then transplanted grass and finally added water from the stream.

Each player wanted to be the first to hit their ball next so we decided to hit them alphabetically. Callaway hit first followed by me, Golf, then Ping next, and last was Wilson. The new Tee off pointed toward the pond where alligators were sometimes found, so we called it a water hazard. Near the next Green we found a large sandy place where you had to be careful not to fall into the quick sand, so I named it the Sand Trap.

Soon we reached the ninth hole at the end of our valley so we turned around and continued to build the golf course back toward home. After finishing the eighteenth hole near the entrance of our village which is a round opening in the stone wall built around our village Ping looked up and said “Hay! Look at the gate. It is the Nineteenth Hole.”

We all laughed and being tired from building and playing on the golf course we went inside. Golf said to Ping after we entered the house and sat down near the fire with hot drinks in hand, “Our golf clubs have taken a hard beating in just one round of Golf so I think I will talk to our Uncle Marcus, the Black Smith, to see if he could make some heads made out of iron for our clubs.” “Great Idea,” said Ping. “Do you think anyone other than Celts will ever play this game?” asked Ping.

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