Here's a surprise for those of you who love golf! More than a 1,000 years before golf is said to have been invented in Scotland, Roman soldiers were playing the game. Academics now say that the game was imported to Scotland by the foot soldiers of Emperor Severus.
The Roman verson of golf was called paganica and was first recorded in 30 BC as a generic ball game. However, by the time of the Roman invasion of Scotland, it was played with a curved stick used to strike a feather-fillled leather ball. The ball was hit towards a predetermined target such as a tree, the aim being to strike the "mark" in the fewest strokes.
Michael Whitby, a historian at Warwick University says: "Legionaires were in Scotland from the AD 140s. The Emperor Severus was on the Fife Peninsula... A legacy of games such as paganica would have been left. The roots of golf would have passed through the 8th century to the medieval university folk and aristocrats." Interestingly, there was an important Roman marching camp hear St. Andrews, the modern Mecca of golf.
However, the Chinese, disagree. Chinese academics at Lanzhou University claim the game was played in China during the Song Dynbasty. Known as chuiwan (hit the ball). It's mentioned on a 10th century manuscript. Professor Ling Hongling of the University has retorted: "Scotland cannnot be golf's birthplace."
Modern golf was formalized in the 15th century. It became so popular that James II banned it in 1457 because it interfered with military training! Mary Queen of Scots brought it to France where gallants who attended her were known as cadets -- i.e. caddies.
Now, isn't that something to discuss on the 19th hole?