The game of golf was originally played on Scotland’s eastern coast, near Edinburgh. Players would hit a pebble across sand dunes or around tracks with a bent stick, or club in those early days. Scotland was prepared to defend itself against the invasion of the ‘Auld Enemy,’ in the 15th century. However, the nation’s passion for golf led to many neglecting their military training. In fact, King James II of Scotland banned golf in 1457.
Maggie Lagle, a historian with the United States Golf Association, helped me understand golf’s origins. Lagle offers tours of the USGA Museum, from schools to past champions, and also conducts research on the history of golf. Her most significant work includes studying the influence of golf on past U.S. Presidents, military veterans’ use of golf as a rehabilitation tool, and golf’s relevance during wartime.
Lagle and my conversation covered the history of golf, notable figures, and the evolution of the game over time.
Golf’s History and Roots
Golf is a sport that has endured for many years. From the early days of golf, when Caesar reigned supreme, to today’s players such as Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy. Golf has stood the test of time and is still an important sport across the globe.
Golf dates back to Julius Caesar’s time. It was similar to the game of golf we play today, even though it wasn’t quite as good. The game involved striking a feather-stuffed golf ball with club-shaped branches from trees. The Song Dynasty of China, between the years 960 and 1279, was the first to discover golf. These games were not the same as the modern game of golf. The roots of the game can be traced back to Scotland, 1457. King James II of Scotland banned the game because it was detrimental to military training.
In the 17th century, golf became a popular pastime in Great Britain. It was also a common theme around the globe. The first British Open was held in 1860. It is still being played today. The sport quickly gained popularity around the world. In Montreal, Canada in 1873, the first permanent golf club was established. It was called “Canada’s Royal Montreal Club”. The United States soon embraced the golf craze. The Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Illinois was the first to offer an 18-hole golf course.
In 1894, the United States Golf Association (USGA), was established as the governing body for golf. In 1916, the Professional Golf Association of America was established. Open events such as the US Open or the British Open are open to amateurs and professionals. Amateurs are not permitted to participate in certain events, such as the Accenture Match Play Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. These are professional events.
The name of the pro circuit was changed to the Tournament Players Association Tour (TPA) in 1981. It was renamed the Professional Golfers Association (PGA tour) in 1981. In the 1920s, tournament golf was a popular spectator sport in America and has been growing in popularity ever since. As it becomes more popular and is marketed and televised, golf is well-known all over the world. Golf is a sport that will continue to exist forever.
Who invented golf?
Where Did Golf Begin
Lagle says that historians still disagree about the origins and evolution of golf. However, it is clear that the Scots created the foundations for the modern game.
Lagle explained to me that early ball and stick games can be traced back as far as the 13th century. These games were not only being played in Europe but also in Asia and other parts of Africa. Even ball and stick games can be traced back as far as China in the 11th Century, which is quite remarkable.” However, Scotland preserved the predecessor to the modern game and was the one to bring it to its current form in the 15th century.
How did the game of golf evolve over time?
Information on how to play the game of golf was not available until the 16th Century. These writings, which were found in several books in Latin and Dutch, detailed the rules of the day. For example, putting required that the ball be struck, not pushed. During this time, golf was played mainly in informal and friendly matches at match play in Scotland. The links were also public.
These courses were where sheep and goats were kept, and these animals were used as agronomists for the next generation.
Lagle stated, “[The townspeople] would go play golf with their goat and then let them mow the grass.”
The Scottish monarchy banned the game for a short time in the 18th century. Lagle claims that the Scottish monarch felt the game distracted Scotland from its military practices and archery practice — because soldiers would often skip training to play a round of the links.
Why is it called golf?
According to Etymology, “golf” is derived from the Dutch word kolf (or kolve), which simply translated to “club.” However, Lagle points out that the Dutch term was changed to Goff or gouff in the Scottish dialect in the late-14th or early-15th centuries. The word “golf” was first pronounced the way it is today in the 16th century.
“The Dutch-Scottish terms connect to the active trade industry between Dutch ports, and the ports along the east coast of Scotland.
?Lagle stated that the period covered the 14th-17th centuries.
So, when did golf become really big?
Golf’s popularity exploded in the 19th century. Golf’s popularity grew largely due to the Industrial Revolution. The creation and development of the Scottish railway system made it possible for English tourists to travel to Scotland by train for their golf holidays and trips.
Historians believe the early forms of golf, such as the ball and stick games mentioned and the early Dutch predecessors to golf, were developed in America between 1650-1660. These early versions of golf began to gain popularity and prevalence in the 1770s in British, Scottish, and Carolina communities. The quantities of golf balls and clubs being shipped from Europe to America can be found in ship manifests.
The popularity of the game declined around the War of 1812 but saw a resurgence in America’s 1880s. The United States Golf Association was founded in December 1894. By 1895, the U.S. Open had been established. First played were the U.S. Women’s Amateur and Amateur golf tournaments.