Chinese 'invented golf 1,000 years ago'

The Dutch talk of a 13th-century sport called "colf"; the French say they first had the idea with "palle-mail" in the 1400s; but it is the Scots who have been most widely credited with having invented the game of golf.

Yesterday, however, another country laid claim to the game. According to Professor Ling Hongling of Lanzhou University, the Chinese were playing golf 1,000 years ago. He says he has found a reference to a game called chuiwan - chui meaning to hit and wan meaning ball. Players used 10 clubs, including a cuanbang (equivalent to a driver today) and a shaobang (a three wood or spoon). Royalty inlaid their clubs with jade, edged them with gold and decorated the shafts elaborately.

A description of the sport, written during the Song Dynasty (AD960-1279), has been found in a volume called the Dongxuan Records. Professor Ling says the book refers to a Chinese magistrate instructing his daughter "to dig goals in the ground so that he might drive a ball into them with a purposely crafted stick". Golf "clearly originated in China", he said, adding that Mongolian travellers took the game to Europe.

However, it is generally accepted that the first place where all the modern aspects of the game were brought together was in Scotland. Scots were also the first to use holes rather than targets.

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