The New Year lunch was the first event I hosted this year, and it went well, but I have to apologise to our Scottish president and to the rest of the women’s section for spreading false rumours when I said a few words.
Indeed, I suggested that the game of golf was brought to Scotland by their auld allies, namely my nation of birth, the mighty French, via Mary Queen of Scots. Wrong. The game did of course originate in Scotland. The earliest reference to golf dates back to 1457, when King James II of Scotland banned golf and football because they were keeping his subjects from practicing archery. In fact, all the French may have contributed is the word “caddie”, which some say might have been brought back to France by Mary, Queen of Scots, who grew up in Paris and practiced her favourite game there. The other thing I didn’t know is that she was probably the first female golfer in the history of the game. This is what the National Portrait Gallery website has to say on the subject:
Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587), Reigned 1542-67
Talented golferMary, Queen of Scots is known for her turbulent life and eventual execution for treason in 1587. However, she also had another claim to fame as the first woman to regularly play golf. She learned the game at an early age and played during her childhood in France. As a member of the French royal family, military cadets would have carried her golf clubs. It is possible that Mary brought this practice back with her to Scotland, where the term evolved into the word ‘caddy’. Her love of golf also contributed to her downfall. In 1567 her husband, Lord Darnley, was murdered and only months later she married the leading suspect, the Earl of Bothwell. There was much speculation at the time that she was involved in the assassination plot and this was compounded by rumours that she was seen playing golf within days of the murder.
Thankfully, my apology was accepted and I’m hopeful the usually cordial French-Scottish relations won’t be affected by my ignorance.