Claim: Golf courses have eighteen holes because a bottle of Scotch contains eighteen shots.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2002]
Why do full-length golf courses have 18 holes, and not 20, or 10 or an even dozen?
How many of you golfers know the answer to this one?
During a discussion among the club’s membership board at
Now you know. I’ll drink to that.
Origins: Although this bit of lore about soused Scots limiting themselves to one slurp at the flask per hole has its charm, it does not have history on its side. The number of holes comprising a standard golf course was not determined by the amount of Scotch in a
Games similar to golf have been around since Roman times, and golf was being played at Scotland’s famed Old Course at
But couldn’t that number still be tied to a hip flask, you say? Not unless the bottle shrank. Originally, the Old Course at
So there you have it — no drunken Scots at all.
Barbara “holey unimaginable” Mikkelson
Last updated: 28 July 2015
Browning, Robert. A History of Golf, the Royal and Ancient Game. New York: Dutton, 1955.