The Dirt Blogs
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This is a segment from a book I am writing called "Lost in Golf History." This chapter is called "who can you blame"...which covers just about every aspect of the game of golf and who is responsible for the rule in place.
Have you ever wondered why the golf hole is 4 1/4" wide? Perhaps the question popped into your head when you lipped out a putt to record your best ever round...or perhaps a lipped out putt cost you a match or you first chance to break 80. The game of golf is full of surprises and some rather quirky stories behind nearly every rule.
This story goes back to 1829 and the oldest golf course in existance, Musselburgh Links. At the beginning of 1829 and every year prior to 1829 each golf hole was different...meaning that no matter what course you played you might encounter a 4 inch hole on #1 and a 7 inch hole on #2 and so on. There was no standard for the game of golf.
But in 1829 that would change at Musselburgh when an enterprising young man named Robert Gray devised a method to create a golf hole of exact size (4 1/4"). Why 4 1/4" you may ask? The answer had more to do with excess material than a scienfic method to determine the ideal hole size. You see Robert Gray was a roofer by trade, and he decided to build a golf hole from the materials he used in his trade...the drainage pipe...and the standard Musselburgh drainage pipe was 4 1/4". And so it was in 1829 when Musselburgh adopted the Musselburgh Drainpipe as the liner for the golf holes at Musselburgh Links.
It wasn't until 1897 that the Royal and Ancient ratified the rule in the R&A rule book.
So when you lip out that next putt you know who to blame...just think, had Musselburgh used a 5 inch drain pipe your score would have been that much better.
(It should be noted that the original hole cutter is on display at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club, one of the five oldest golf clubs in the world!)
I hope you enjoyed this blog!
Yours in Golf History,