Yesterday, we presented Art Cashin's unique perspective on the US equity market's darkest day 25 years ago. However, as Art notes, there was another event 555 years ago that offers some insight into the current state of the world. On this day in 1457, the government banned that most sacred of pastimes - golf. Most notably, Cashin reflects on the eventual backfire from this government intervention - as always seems to be the case.
Via Art Cashin, UBS:
On this day (+2) in 1457, a government reacted to fears that its people had grown too frivolous and therefore the country was losing its greatness. As governments tend to do, it decided to legislate a higher morality on the populace.
The problem was that the men of the country were not practicing their skills of archery and horsemanship, which were so important to the national defense. Instead for the last few decades, they were getting caught up in sports - or rather one specific sport. It was an ancient pastime and may have gotten its modern name from a variant in Holland where a man clubbed a stone to a target stick. But the Scots didn't want to waste any sticks. So in their version you clubbed a ball to a hole. The Dutch called their game kolf; the Scots called their version golf. (So much for the silly internet canard about “Gents Only Ladies Forbidden.”)
Anyway, on this day (we think) the Parliament under King James II outlawed the game. Like most other government attempts, it was about as effective as prohibition. In less than a century, there was a Royal Course at St. Andrews and less than a century later, Scotland was just a part of the British Empire. (You can't stop an army with a putter.)
To celebrate, stop by the 19th hole and have a couple of aces without a slice. But, stop before you see bogey men or get trapped. And, if you happen to be balancing your checkbook, remember to replace the divots.