The earliest reference we could track down was a reference in an 1858 article: ‘…. carefully surveyed the lie of the ground, that he may borrow, if it be sloping’
From The historical dictionary of golfing terms: from 1500 to present.
The sport of Curling has a similar use for the word both, it is believed, to have Scottish origins.
In an 1890 article there was reference to needing to either borrow or put a spin on the ball. Spinning a putt is a unique concept for us nowadays!
The words ‘break’ and ‘borrow’ are both used and a largely interchangeable but we do sometimes use them in different ways. We’re more likely to say (i) there is a lot of borrow (noun) and (ii) a putt will break to the right (verb).
Become an Accredited Publisher and get your name in lights on Why We Love Golf. If you’re a passionate writer and researcher join the community, publish your own questions, and be recognised by your golfing peers.