History of Golf

Date: Nov 22, 2018

Early History of Golf

The origin of golf is unknown, because there were many games with club and ball, but the modern golf, as we know it today, was invented in Scotland. The first golfers in Scotland used to play on sand or fields with sticks or clubs. Instead of a ball, they hit a pebble that was explained by unofficial character of the game. Golf became so popular that people often ignored the military training; therefore, “the Scottish parliament of King James II banned the sport in 1457” (Johnson, n. d.). Nevertheless, the ban was canceled in 1502 when “King James became the world’s first golfing monarch” (Johnson, n. d.). The Scots also developed the first written rules of the game and the first golf courses. The oldest recognized golf course is the Musselburgh Links. The first game was documented in 1672 although “Mary Queen of Scots reputedly played here in 1567” (East Lothian News, 2009). According to Graves and Cornish (2002), “golf was played in totally natural links for four hundred years” until 1850. One of the oldest golf courses at St Andrews Links has 9 holes; while the course has to be passed twice, the 18-holes golf course became the standard. Golf soon became popular not only in Scotland, but also in England and Europe. A pebble was not appropriate for golf; thus, the first golf balls appeared which were made of leather. The first golf clubs looked more like wooden sticks although the popularization of golf made golfers develop a more comfortable and proper tool for playing golf. All in all, the equipment was rather poor, and the rules were not fixed as in different regions golfers had their own rules.

Development of Golf

The first golf championship was held in 1860 at the Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. The considerable spread of golf and raise of its popularity required to make this game more comfortable and developed. Therefore, “in 1744, the first standardized rules of golf were written and used for the first golf championship in Edinburgh” (Bellis, n. d.). There were thirteen fixed rules, which finally made golf systematic. The rules helped to solve any disputes, which previously arouse when there were no sole rules of golf. Another important development was the improvement of golf equipment. At first, “the gutta-percha balls were invented in 1848”, and then “one piece rubber cored” balls were introduced (Bellis, n. d.). Finally, the balls, which are similar to the modern golf balls, were produced by William Taylor in 1905. The role of golf clubs was previously neglected, but the evolution of golf balls revealed the importance of the golf tools. Ordinary wooden clubs were substituted with irons, putters, and woods. The kind of clubs depended on the distance and purpose. Additionally, in 1889, “the first portable golf tee was patented” that was an area for the first stroke. Thus, comparing to the early period, golf improved immensely and became popular among upper social classes. Golf equipment was not cheap as well as golf courses. Finally, it made golf not available to simple people. Nevertheless, golf of those times was far different from the modern game.

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Present Day Developments

When previously golfers chose the natural area and used it for playing golf, nowadays golf course’s architecture became an art. Constructing artificial landscapes for making the game more vivid and interesting is very relevant. The evolution of golf courses also influenced the development of golf equipment. Golf clubs became more various; now, a golfer can carry up to 14 different clubs during the game. Each club is made for a specific stroke and has different angle, weight, etc. Golf balls were also improved and acquired fixed weight, size, and material. Modern golf balls have better aerodynamics, control, and distance than their predecessors. Golf championships are more popular than it was before mostly due to the television broadcasting. When the center of professional golf moved to the United States, the game became immensely popularized. Nevertheless, the high prices for equipment and golf courses made the game available only for rich people, while others can afford only to watch golf games rather than play it.

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