Sporting Vernacular: 23. Bogey

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The Independent Online
HEAVEN KNOWS what Major Wellman of Great Yarmouth Golf Club would have made of the Open Championship that finished yesterday. There were even more bogeys than there were complaints about the harshness of the Carnoustie links (from Old English hlinc, "ridge" or "rising ground").

"Bogey" originated in 1890. The Major was playing a round - badly - with the club secretary Dr Thomas Browne RN. Strokeplay and the idea of "playing against the course" was new to Wellman, and he exclaimed, referring to a hit song of the time, that his mysterious opponent was a regular "bogeyman". The term caught on at the club and spread. ("Bogeyman" itself came from Middle English bugge, which referred both to a scarecrow and more spectral terrors.)

One term not heard too many times over the weekend was "albatross", denoting a three-under-par shot. The word comes from the Portuguese for pelican, alcatres, which gave its name to Alcatraz (the prison island was originally home to pelicans rather than prisoners).

A few golfers this morning may feel they have been let out of gaol.