From the Hobbit:

If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Took's great-granduncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf was invented at the same moment.

Is there any other mention of Golf in Tolkien's work? The existence of Golf seems out of place with the rest of Middle Earth

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    Interestingly, the Goblin king's original name (in the early drafts) was Fingolfin, which would have really messed things up if he'd published using that. – user8719 Dec 29 '14 at 21:22
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    Why would there NOT be a game similar to golf in Middle Earth? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 29 '14 at 21:30
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    @eliyahu-g - well, I would strongly suggest that, if there was one thing that Hobbiton - and Middle Earth - had in a great surplus - it would be empty space for golf courses. Basic gold can be played with wood sticks that are easier to make than a bow; and a ball that's... well, pick a goblin and take its head off. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 29 '14 at 21:35
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    Now, the anachronism aspect is a valid concern, OTOH. But for all we know, Middle Earth Golf was more like cricket/baseball, which is WAY older. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 29 '14 at 21:36
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    “The existence of Golf seems out of place with the rest of Middle Earth” — a bunch of old white guys ruining a nice country walk with some goal they’ve suddenly decided is really important? Lord of the Rings looks a lot like golf to me. – Paul D. Waite Apr 27 '15 at 12:24

This is the only mention of golf in Tolkien's writings.

Regarding it being out of place, it's important to remember that this mention of golf is made in the voice of the narrator, not of one of the characters in the story. The narrator is very specifically addressing a modern audience (and an audience of children, at that), and so there are other similar anachronisms throughout the Hobbit (we had a recent similar question relating to guns in Middle-earth, for example).

Tolkien deals with this in his own Letter 215:

When I published The Hobbit – hurriedly and without due consideration – I was still influenced by the convention that 'fairy-stories' are naturally directed to children (with or without the silly added waggery 'from seven to seventy'). And I had children of my own. But the desire to address children, as such, had nothing to do with the story as such in itself or the urge to write it. But it had some unfortunate effects on the mode of expression and narrative method, which if I had not been rushed, I should have corrected.

What all of this means is that one should not assume that mention of anything in the voice of the narrator reflects in any way on what may or may not actually exist in Middle-earth.

Letter 194 emphasises this point:

...the narrator might occasionally venture an interpretation of more than mere plot-events...

And there are other examples throughout Tolkien's letters where he distinguishes the narrator from events or characters in his story.

Although none of these have specific reference to the game of golf, in this case the narrator can be safely assumed to be merely telling a joke to amuse his audience, and nothing more.


It is possible that in this account the game of golf is a translation of a Middle-earth game with a different name - possibly fimbul, for example. Or possibly the orc was name Nargrut and the game was named narg and the "translator" changed the names to golfimbul and golf to make it sound more familiar to modern audiences.

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