Mary, Queen Of Scots, Mother Of Golf

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On this final day of the British Open, host Liane Hansen tells the story of the woman who could be considered the "Mother of Golf."


Today is the last day of play in the British Open on the old course at St. Andrews in Scotland. I once took the overnight train from Houston Station in London to Inverness, Scotland. It passed through St. Andrews at dawn. Seeing the naturally manicured landscape, I understood why golf is and has always been popular here. These are the greens that course designers the world over tried to copy.

Historians say golf has been played at St. Andrews for more than five centuries. A much maligned 16th monarch loved the sport, as well as the spot.

In her Washington Post column this past week, Sally Jenkins writes that Mary Stuart - who was beheaded in 1587 by her rival, Elizabeth I - kept a cottage at St. Andrews. And the Queen of Scots was an avid golfer. She bestowed a necklace to her lady-in-waiting after losing a match. She's thought to have originated the term caddy. And she was ridiculed for playing a round just a few days after her husband, the English Lord Darnley, was strangled. That golf game came back to haunt her.

In 1568, Mary was forced to flee to England, where murder charges were brought against her. Her accusers said the fact that she went out on the links instead of staying in to mourn her husband was evidence of her guilt. She spent the rest of her life in prison and eventually was denied all forms of exercise.

There's a golf museum in St. Andrews and a portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, hangs on the wall. A small posthumous tribute to the woman known as the Mother of Golf.

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