Where did the word ‘Golf’ come from?

If you’ve been around the golf course long, you’ve heard that the word “golf” is originate as an acronym for “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden”? That’s a big fat wives’ tale. Or, in this case, a big fat old husband’s tale.

Okey, no, “golf” is not an acronym for “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden.” If you’ve been told that…forget it immediately. Better yet, find the person who told you that and ask them to walk out onto the fairway as you are about to hit…

Like most 20th century words, the word “golf” comes from the old country. It derives from older languages and dialects. In this case, it’s medieval Dutch and old Scots.

The medieval Dutch word “kolf” or “kolve” meant “club.” It’s believed that word passed to the Scottish, whose old Scots dialect transformed the word into “golve,” “gowl” or “gouf.” By the 16th Century, the word “golf” had become a real world as folks started creating golf courses everywhere.

Thank you to the British Golf Museum, USGA Library

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