Golf Games

The word “golf” is derived from the medieval Dutch language, where the word “kolf,” or “kolve,” simply meant “club.” It was passed to the Scots, whose dialect translated it into “glove,” “gowl” or “gouf.” By the 16th century, “golf” had emerged. The first game may have been played on the manicured lawns of Bruntsfield Links in Edinburgh in 1456.

Golf--in the standard form we know today--has been played on Scotland's Musselburgh Links since 1672. Variations of the game had been played throughout the British Isles and the Low Countries of northern Europe for several centuries before that.

Today, “kolf” continues to evolve in exciting ways. In fact, it is doubtful if those first male golfers--with their cute socks and jaunty caps--could have imagined today’s many forms of playing the game.

Word Golf

This game also is called a word chain. It’s a version of word ladders, in which players must change the start word into the end word through a process of substituting single letters. A new English word must be formed each time a letter is replaced, and players score points according to the number of steps taken. As in regular golf, the player with the lowest score at the end of the game wins. Here’s an example: “lass,” “mass,” “mars,” “mare,” “male.” “Lass” changes to “male” in four turns. This is word golf.

Online Golf

Computer-generated “golf” online is complete with hazards and penalties. Play the courses the pros compete on--virtually--to practice “putting” and improve “technique.” Take a survey to see “how badly you are addicted to golf.” Order e-books as well as hard copy books, and read about improving your swing, “betting” games, etiquette, PGA tour information and more. You can even book a golfing vacation in exotic locations around the world after buying bargain clubs on eBay. Whatever the interest in golf, it is bound to be found online.

Indoor Golf

Golf simulators are the newest technology in the game. At Bunker Hill Golf Course in Medina, Ohio, the indoor facility has full-swing booths with 52 computer-generated golf courses at each station. Participants can play nine or 18 holes on photographed scenery of famous courses, such as Pebble Beach or St. Andrew’s. Follow the course hole-by-hole, full-swing driver to putter, to compete for the lowest score individually or against companions. Scorecards can be printed upon completion.

Cindy Cole manages Bunker Hill’s indoor and outdoor courses. She says the golf simulators allow people to enjoy golf at night, during bad weather or prime times when the outdoor course is at capacity. Those who consider themselves weekend golfers can polish their skills inside during the week.

Cole finds indoor-simulated golf a convenient learning tool. Children ages 7 to 17 can join a junior clinic for five weeks to learn the game before hitting the outdoor course. Parents love this closely supervised, time-sensitive, all-weather option.

There is also a woman’s clinic scheduled for four weeks in May. Cole says, “This is a great way to learn the game and not be intimidated. The women practice for an hour and a half and then stay for dinner.” Some enjoy the chance to drink a beer and sit while others take turns hitting the ball into the soft screen.

”You not only get to play with your foursome,” says Cole, “but you also get to be with everyone else.” She sums up the driving range capability, target practice and large touch-screen at Bunker Hills’ indoor golfing as “pretty cool.”

Kids Golf

Rustic Hills Golf Course is a private country club, also in Medina., that offers a Junior Golf League, open to members and non-members. Over 100 children ages 6 to 16 signed up last year for the once-a-week class. Club Manager John Kelly says everything from golf etiquette to putting is covered in the course. After two hours of training on the nine-hole course, everyone is treated to lunch. Kelly says Rustic Hills is a “great course to learn on. Kids with the most Medina county records (in golf) learned on this course.”

Deerpass Golf Club is a public golf course also in Medina. New Manager and Golf Pro Jason Martin offers a $12, weekly Junior League with instruction. During the summer months, children ages 7 to 18 are welcome at leagues on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Martin tries to pair up students with similar age and skill levels. Not only do the kids get instruction, they get a hot dog, chips and a pop (for you East Coasters, that’s a soda).

Senior Golf

Deerpass offers a Senior League on Mondays. A weekly “skin” costs only $18 for a full 18 holes. Included in the cost is the use of a motorized cart and a meal that includes a hot dog, chips and can of pop. Martin boasts, “We have the best rates in the state!” Deerpass was built in 1998 and is a short but challenging golf course with a par of 71.

Family Golf

Mt. Lebanon Municipal Golf course offers the families of Pittsburgh, Penn., “Family Golf Day” every Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. Children ages 12 and under may golf with their parents for only $4. Class A PGA Professional Shane Rice says this program is held then so golfers “don’t have to worry about (the children) holding up traffic” the rest of the week. Rice adds every day is “One Price Day,” which means adults can play the nine-hole, par-35 course for $32. It includes a golf cart and a sleeve of balls.

Theme Golf

For 20 years, Apple Orchard Golf Course in Bartlett, Ill., has held its annual “Arctic Open Golf Tournament” the first Saturday in February. Purchased in 1974, the nine-hole course--part of the Bartlett Park District--offers many theme-based golf outings. Previous themes have included Pirate Adventure, Western OK Corral (where the contest includes cork guns), Golfing in the Land of Oz, Around the World in Nine Holes and Elvis. At the Superhero event, contestants have to do something in a phone booth, like change into a superhero costume. The Carnival has the “sledgehammer thingy.”

Of the nine holes, three are “themed,” and include a variety of obstacles. The winners are awarded with reduced strokes for winning “challenges.” Included in the registration fee are a personal photo, plenty of coffee, bagels, chili and drinks. Winners are awarded prizes.

Another theme event at Orchard Valley -- Freedom Fore Youth Golf Tournament -- is held on the Fourth of July for boys and girls ages 9 to 15. Participants play in age groups (9/10, 11/12, 13-15), and trophies are awarded for the low-net and low-gross scores in each age group using the Peoria handicap scoring system. Additional prizes are awarded for longest drive and longest putt, along with numerous door prizes. Participants also receive an activity bag and coupon for a soft drink. Friends are encouraged to register together and contact the clubhouse to reserve a tee time.

At the Twilight Golf Outing, Apple Orchard lights the greens with glow sticks, and each participant is given a glow-in-the-dark golf ball. This benefit theme outing provides funds for the Bartlett Parks Foundation. Other theme events have included couples and grandparents with their grandchildren.

“We’re always looking for ways to serve our body in better ways,” Apple Orchard’s Marketing Manager Stephanie Anie FitzSimons says of the popular theme-based golf tournaments. “We continue to try to make it fresh.”

Enjoying Games Of Golf

From the earliest form of the word, “kolf” has been transformed from a club-swinging, male-dominated sport to a pastime that encompasses glowing golf balls, pirate hats and computers. Though the meaning has changed over the years to include variations of the game, the original intent of enjoyment and leisure has not been lost.

Melanie Minch is a freelance writer in Medina, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at