[FOUNTAIN]The lure of the green

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[FOUNTAIN]The lure of the green

Golf is an addictive sport. Compared with other sports, it is often involved in controversy and troubles because of its addictive nature. The earliest historical reference to golf was a ban that is evidence of the effect the sport had on its players. In 1457, James II of Scotland banned golf because Scots indulged in the sport instead of training for war when the country was under the threat of invasion from England. However, even the stern royal command was not enough to halt the golf craze. The ban had to be reaffirmed by his son and then his grandson, James III and James IV.
James IV, who had derided golf as a “fool’s sport” that required neither power nor training, was the strictest. Not only golfers but those who provided land for the game were punished by imprisonment or a fine. This also had no effect. Comically, James IV played golf to prove its uselessness but ended up becoming a golf fanatic.
Mary, Queen of Scots, the daughter of James V, who permitted the sport, was the first female golfer in history. She is also the golfer who had to endure the severest penalty stroke because of her love for the game. Only three days after the assassination of her husband, Lord Darnley, she went for a round of golf with a young nobleman. The church and the parliament condemned her senseless conduct, and a rumor circulated that she had conspired with her lover and murdered her husband. The rumor led to a bigger controversy, and she was executed for treason.
Long ago, Koreans also played a game similar to golf, and it was also highly addictive. In the winter of 1421, King Sejong played “gyeokgu” with his father, Taejong, in Sugang Palace. Players scored points by striking a ball with a stick to put it into a number of holes. They enjoyed the sport so much that they continued to play it until the following spring.
There is a joke about the addictive nature of golf. One fine Sunday, a golf-loving pastor said he was sick and skipped a service to play golf. An angel saw the pastor in the golf course and reported it to God. When the pastor made a tee shot, the ball flew 350 meters, dropped on the green and rolled into the hole. The angel protested: “My lord, you should have punished him.” God responded, “Think of the agony ― he can’t brag about the feat.”
The Prime Minister played golf with a group of businessmen on March 1. He must have played a good game and reportedly won some money. He seems to want to hide the details of his round. His desire to conceal what happened at the golf course is not much different from the pastor who cannot boast of his albatross. They are both very pathetic.


by Lee Hoon-beom

The writer is the head of the JoongAng Ilbo’s weekend news team.
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