The History of Golf
can be traced back to the late 13th century, in fact some 125 years before golf was even mentioned in terms of playing in Scotland, there is documentation that a form of Golf or Kolf as it was referred to was played in Holland.
This game of Kolf was really no more than a Putting game where the player would hit a leather-bound ball with a wooden implement to a target a few hundred yards away and whoever managed to get the ball in a hole at the target would be declared the winner.
But the modern game as we know it, played over 18 holes is widely recognised as an invention from Scotland, and the first recorded course was Musselburgh Links, making it the oldest “golf course” in the world and where Mary Queen of Scots played in 1567 just after the death of her husband.
Although Golf had been played in some form or other since the 14th century it wasn’t until 1764 that all courses were played over 18 holes. When Golf became established some 600 years ago at St Andrews it was played over a narrow strip of land along the sea. As early as the 15th century, golfers at St Andrews built a trench through the undulating terrain, playing to holes whose locations were dictated by the lie of the land.
The “course” that was eventually born out was made up of eleven holes, stretching out end to end from the clubhouse to the far end of the strip of land.
So the player would play the holes out, turn around, and play the holes back, totaling 22 holes.
But in 1764, it was decided that a few of the holes were far too short, and, therefore, they were combined to make longer holes. So the number of holes was reduced from 11 to 9, which made the complete round of the links 18 holes, and because St Andrews was considered in Golfing terms to be the leader, all other courses followed suit and the 18 hole course remains the standard to the present day.
The oldest Golf Club In England dates back to 1603 when James the sixth of Scotland came to the throne in England as James the !st and his son the Prince of Wale played golf at the London suburb of Blackheath.
The Royal Blackheath Golf Club can trace its beginnings back to those days making it the oldest golf club in England. While the oldest Links course in England dates back to 1864 at Westward Ho! in Devon, The Royal North Devon Golf Club. Followed the following year by the London Scottish Golf Club on Wimbledon Common.
So Golf was beginning to spread its wings outside the boundaries of Scotland, in fact, the oldest Golf Clubs outside of the British Isles can be found in India ( The Royal Calcutta Golf Club ) established in 1829, and south-west France ( The Pau Golf Club ) which was established in 1856.
But not until the late 19th century did Golf became more widely popular outside of its Scottish home, but by 1880 England had 12 Golf Courses, rising to near 50 seven years later and well over 1000 by 1914, and because of the progression of the game the first Open Championship took place in 1890. With the British Empire the way it was in the 1800’s and 1900’s golf was springing up all over the world mainly due to the Scottish soldiers visiting these places, there were courses as far apart as Ireland and Singapore.