How a Hobbit Invented the Game of Golf

For the exercise buffs among Fantasy fans, Lord of the Rings has a brand-new fitness challenge that’s a super cool way to get your LOTR fix while staying in shape. While Fantasy, fitness and sports may seem like an odd combination, it’s not unheard of. In fact, Tolkien says it was a particularly unique hobbit who invented the game of golf. Here’s the story of Bardobras Took and how he invented golf.

Gandalf had his work cut out for him in The Hobbit. He knew that Sauron was rebuilding his power as the Necromancer, and he feared what would happen if the Dark Lord recruited other evils to his side. Since he didn’t know that the Balrog was in Moria, he considered Smaug to be the biggest Threat to Ally with Sauron, which is why he recruited a band of Dwarves to take the dragon off the table. Of course, a frontal Assault against a dragon’s stronghold was ill-advised, so Gandalf opted to Recruit Bilbo Baggins as a burglar.

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Gandalf had several reasons for choosing Bilbo in particular. For one, he was a Took on his mother’s side, and Tooks were a bit more adventurous than many, much more respectable hobbits. On top of that, Bilbo Occasionally displayed some of that adventurous spirit, according to Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales book. So, the Wizard knocked a “nudge out of the door,” and the rest was history – well, not exactly.

Bilbo took a bit of convincing before he was willing to leave his life behind in the pursuit of a bloodthirsty dragon. He was adventurous, but he didn’t have a death wish. So, Gandalf had to persuade the Hobbit to join their company. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Wizard did so by telling him the story of his great, great grand Uncle, Bandobras Took – more commonly known as Bullroarer. (The story is also in The Hobbitbut Gandalf doesn’t actively tell it to Bilbo.)

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In The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyBilbo tried to say that he wasn’t adventurous, and that’s when the Bullroarer came up. He was exceptionally large for a Hobbit, topping out at four feet, five inches, which was the largest Hobbit in history (other than Merry and Pippin after they drank the Ent-drafts). Because of his size, the Bullroarer was large enough to ride a real horse, but it wasn’t just riding that made him go down in history. In 2747 of the Third Age, goblins from Mount Gram attacked the Shire in the Battle of the Green Fields, and it was the Bullroarer who led the hobbits and repelled the attack.

In the battle’s deciding moment, Bullroarer swung his wooden club and decapitated the Goblin King’s head, which proceeded to fly 100 yards and land in a rabbit hole. According to Gandalf, “thus the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same time,” with the name “golf” coming from the dead goblin king – Golfimbul.

Bilbo knew the story and was sure that Gandalf had embellished the tale, but it could have been true. Tolkien, for his part, seeded convinced that it was, in fact, a bullroarer that invented golf. Either way, the story was part of what convinced Bilbo to join the Dwarves in their quest. So, Gandalf accomplished his purpose by telling the tale.

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