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The Origins of Golf & Playing the 19th Hole at St Mary’s Inn

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Whilst the conventional wisdom posits that golf was invented in 15th Century Scotland, dig a little deeper and one’ll find that it has hotly contested origins.

Some would have it that golf is the decedent of the Roman game, paganica: in which players competed at hitting a stuffed leather ball with a crooked stick. In this version, golf would be the modern-day legacy of the Roman annexation of Europe dating back to the 1st Century BC!

Then there is the Asian challenge to golf’s ancestry. The game of chuiwan (“chui” meaning “striking” and “wan” meaning “small ball”) was Chinese game, played between the 8th and 14th Centuries. “The Autumn Banquest”, a Ming Dynasty scroll dating back to 1368, depicts a member of the Chinese Imperial Court swinging golf club-like utensil at a minute ball: with the object of sinking it into a hole! This theory would have it that chuiwan spread to Europe during the Middle Ages and was hijacked into golf.

Then, there’s cambuca from England (a 12th Century game); chambot from France; the Persian game of chaugán; and/or kolven, played annually in the Netherlands, involving a ball and curved bats, to commemorate the capture of the assassin of Floris V in 1296! Take your pick!!

The first record of the modern, Scottish game is James II’s banning of it in 1457 – as an unwelcome distraction to archery! To many, the Old Course – a links course – at St Andrews, dating back to 1574, is considered a site of pilgrimage. And this was modified, from 22 to 18 holes, in 1764.

St Mary’s Inn, Stannington, nestles in the Southern portion of Northumberland and, near the links land of the coast, has great proximity to several courses: Bedlington, Blyth and Longhirst – to name but a few. With 11 bedrooms, it is an ideal base to stay and play them all and the Bar and Restaurant make it an ideal place to play the 19th hole.

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TEMPORARY CLOSURE - UPDATED 1st July 2020

Dear Friends of St Mary’s Inn,

Despite the Government confirming that pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels will be allowed to open on 4th July, under specific distancing restrictions and other COVID-19 safety measures, the ongoing welfare of our staff and customers are paramount to us.

We have reviewed extensively how we could comply with these regulations and still operate and serve our customers safely, and with the warmth and hospitality our business is based upon. Our conclusions are that St Mary's Inn will remain closed until we are convinced in the future that we can control events safely and in a hospitable trading environment.

We appreciate all the messages of support we have received and we will certainly be back when conditions permit us to serve you all in a safe environment.

Best wishes to all,

St Mary’s Inn.