History of Golf
If one has to look back through history and search for instances when man began to play with a ball and a stick, then almost every country can claim rights to having invented golf. Then again, if it is just about a ball and a stick that may be used to describe many games other than Golf!
There is no single country that can claim to have invented golf, because almost every country has similar historical games to golf.
Scotland believes that Golf was invented by Scottish fishermen to amuse them on the way home from fishing. Other precursors to Golf that involved a ball, a stick and a target of some sort include Paganica in Rome, a Celtic game called Shinty, Ch’ui Wan in China and Khi in Laos.
The term Golf too has been derived from old Scots words – glove and gouff. However, the Dutch term ‘kolf’ meaning ‘club’ was where gouff originated.
Scotland Gets The Honors
It was in 1457 that Golf was banned by King James II of Scotland because it distracted the archers from practice and compromised the defense effort. This did not stop the Scots who braved the wrath of the Parliament and the church to continue their games. This is also the time when ‘Links’ came into being as the Scotsmen played their Golf game on the seaside courses, which were of no use for cultivation.
In the early 16th century, Scotland also became home to the world’s first Golf course called St.Andrews. In 1744, the rules of golf were first written down. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club was established at St.Andrews in 1754. R&A is considered the world’s premier Golf club.
While many European countries lay claim to inventing golf, Holland being the premier contender, the Scots’ contribution to the game cannot be denied.
Golf is made up of all the different stick and ball games played all over Europe. However, it is the Scotsmen who dug a hole into the ground and made putting the ball into the hole the object of the game. Thus, Golf as we know it today is definitely Scottish in origin.
Great Britain Adopts Golf
Golf became popular in UK in the 17th century when James VI of Scotland and James I of England became attracted to the sport
Other Important Golfing Events
It was during the 1800s that the feather filled ball being used for many centuries was finally replaced. The gutta-percha ball or ‘gutty’ started being used.
The first British open was played in 1860 at Prestwick, Scotland. Professionals and amateurs both were allowed to compete.
1873 saw the establishment of Canada’s Royal Montreal Club. It has the distinction of being the first permanent Golf club in North America.
In 1888 St.Andrews golf club was founded at Yonkers, New York. It was established as a 3-hole layout to start off with. The many apple trees on the course gave its founders the name “The Apple Tree Gang”.
The first 18-hole course in the US was founded near Wheaton, Illinois in 1893. It is the Chicago Golf Club.