Thursday, March 12, 2009

Laying Up

Laying up has been the foundation of the traditional Scottish herdsman's pastime.  For centuries, men carried sticks through their pastures, hitting stones towards a common target.  Amidst many of these forays through the hillsides, men who reached the goal in the least amount of shots had done so with strategy.  Looking at the distance between the tee area and the target, the player would then look at all the potential places his stone may lie after a given shot.  He would string these researched locations together and formulate the fairest way of reaching the goal.  Over time the players began to out shoot one another and began reaching farther fair lies.  The risk/ reward system started playing a part in the strategies of leading players called "laying up".  This remained the quintessential strategy until a cooperative of herders, determined to lower their scores, grazed the entire length of each shot in their pasture.  They grazed and then reseeded the ground with the grasses they preferred from other areas of the pasture.  This resulted in the first "as the crow flies" fair ways.  The only skill the players needed was to shoot straight, as far as they could.  At local gatherings the herdsmen boasted of their latest scores and drew scorn from their friends.  Scores these low had never been spoken out loud before.  Following the men back to their course, the fellow herdsmen learned why the scores were so low.  They didn't have to strategize their shots as much and as a result scored lower.  This began a trend of grazing the fair ways of their holes and reseeding with the grasses more preferred by the players.  Within a decade the game of herdsmen was transformed.  Since the grasses used in the building of the fair ways was inedible by their livestock, the men slaughtered the animals and vowed to dedicate their lives to the cultivation of this game.  Years went by and one player who scored best before the "change" occurred, altered his course with bends.  They occurred at just the right distance as to challenge players to risk danger of the rough lie for the reward of a closer shot or play to a safe location with a fair lie and try to reach the target from a farther distance.  This man's name was Shamus Donnegan.  A bastardization of his surname led to the term "Dog Leg" in the modern version of the sport.  Due to the trend of shooting as far and straight as you can, players tried to pass over the rough on these "dog legs" and more often than not suffered higher scores because of it.  It was because of this that ol' Shamus the Shameless began dismantling the best and longest of players of the time and thus rebirthed the strategy of Laying Up.  

This has been "A Brief History Break: Out of Ryan's Ass" thanks for reading.