Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fuzzy Zoeller not the only dispute regarding golf in Wikipedia: St. Andrews not the birthplace?

Fuzzy Zoeller not the only dispute regarding golf in Wikipedia: St. Andrews not the birthplace?
By Brandon Tucker
a Golf Publisher Syndication blog

Golf discrepancies don't start and end at Wikipedia with Fuzzy Zoeller, who claims defamatory material was added to his biography in 2006. The "Encyclopedia anyone , seriously, can edit" is calling Musselburgh Links in Edinburgh - not St. Andrews the birthplace of golf in the 17th century.

It also credits the Netherlands for inventing the game. Here's the paragraph (Under the entry "Golf"):
"Golf is said to have originated in the Netherlands (see History below), but has been played for at least five centuries in the British Isles. Golf, in essentially the form we know today, has been played on Scotland's Musselburgh Links (today's oldest golf course world-wide) since 1672, while earlier versions of the game had been played in the British Isles and the low-countries of Northern Europe for several centuries before that. Although often viewed as an upperclass pastime, golf is an increasingly popular sport across all sections of society [citation needed]."

But flip a few virtual pages over and come to the "Old Course at St. Andrews" entry and it credits this course as the birthplace, with historical record dating back to 1506. Here's the graph:
There is no real knowledge of when golf was first played over the grounds that now constitute the Old Course. The earliest written evidence is a license issued in 1552, which permitted the community to rear rabbits on the links and "play at golf, futball, schuteing ... with all other manner of pastimes." The first written record of golf being played at the Old Course dates to 1574, which would make the Old Course the fifth-oldest links golf site in Scotland.[2] However, documents from the reign of King James IV show that he bought golf clubs at St Andrews in 1506, only four years after his first purchase at Perth, which may indicate that the Old Course is significantly older than the written evidence shows.

Two thoughts come to mind. First, why would anybody with any expertise in a field spend so much spare time making an entry on this page for free? Are people really that bored? Surely there's a dog out there who sorely wants a human to play Frisbee with.

Secondly, is the documentation of history going to be completely screwed for our later generations as a result of the internet's sore lack of editors and fact-checkers? I fear 60 years from now my grandkids will tell me Adolf Hitler was a blind, 18th century Baroque pianist - who later split the Atom holed up in a bunker after cutting off his ear.