A Brief History of Golf

It is very difficult to tell for sure when golf was exactly invented. But one thing we can tell for sure: it is not necessarily from Great Britain. The first time we hear about golf is around 100 BCE in ancient Rome where people used a stuffed leather ball and a stick. Next place we go in time is in medieval China where people used a stick and a ball for a game very similar with golf. Old manuscripts tell us that around 13th century Dutch people also played a game named kolf.

But the true roots of golf come from Scotland. Unfortunately, we first find golf being mentioned in a prohibition law in 1457. The act stated that this game caused people to be driven away from their cleric duties. Luckily, in 1500 the ban is lifted, and King James IV becomes a great fan of this sport. The clubs were traditionally made from pear and apple wood and the balls were from hard leather or wood.

In the 16th century the golf fever spreads both in England and France when Mary of the Scots introduces the game in the land of lavender and wine. The word “caddie”, now a term in the golfing dictionary, actually comes from a French term.

The first rule book was first written in 1744 in Scotland by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. A few years later, the number of holes was reduced from 22 to the classical 18. Slowly, the popularity of golf extended across Europe and even in the American continent. By the late 19th century golf clubs appeared all over the United States promoting this sport as an exquisite activity for gentlemen. In the early 1900 the technology behind this sport started to evolve. The traditional heavy wooden club was replaced by a lighter aluminium one. More detailed rule books also standardized the equipment used for professional golfing and this is the moment international competitions appeared.

Women entered the golfing world spotlight in 1932 when the United States team defeated the United Kingdom and Ireland team at Surrey. The first Women’s Open was in 1946 in Washington and a few years later the Ladies Professional Golf Association was established.

Since 1952 golfing associations all over the world are working together to establish a common rule book. From professional reasons this book is revised very four years in order to keep up with the needs and demands of the golfing world. Following WWII, the technology behind golf changed dramatically thanks to the engineering advance. Synthetic materials were widely used for golf clubs and balls, taking the performance of this sport to the level we see today.

Golf has a rich history that dates back from Ancient Rome. It has advanced from a simple game with a wooden stick and a leather ball to one of the most complex and popular sports in the world. We can observe the influence of golf all around us and it will remain and exquisite, rich game for a very long time.