John Paul Newport used the Open Championship green speed delay to check out the updated British Golf Museum and found a nice tie to today's interest in shorter rounds: "short golf" from 600 years ago.
Short golf, which started in the 1400s, was usually played on Sundays and festival days when rural folk converged on the towns. The precise rules are unknown and were probably fluid. Evidence compiled by David Hamilton in “Golf: Scotland’s Game” suggests that participants used only one club, that alcohol and high spirits were often part of the deal and that the game could be dangerous. In 1632, a spectator in Kelso was killed by an errant ball.
Which brought him to Topgolf, naturally...
Topgolf, the chain of driving ranges with concentric-ring targets and automatic electronic scoring, as in bowling alleys, may be the closest modern counterpart to 15th century short golf. It doesn’t require much space, like street and churchyard golf back then, and alcohol is usually part of the deal. I recently spent a very enjoyable two hours at a Topgolf facility near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. I basically just practiced. The targets used in Topgolf focus one’s attention far better than at normal ranges and the scoring creates a sense of pressure as you try to beat your best score. But as a singleton just practicing, I was in the minority. (I also might have been the only customer over 40.) Topgolf is date-night golf, where “one more round” typically means more drinks, not another batch of balls. When I left there was an hour-long line out the door.