Who Invented Golf?
A Brief History of Golf

Who invented golf? The history of golf is fascinating, and we’re excited to tell you all about it!

Golf Origin

When was golf invented? Similar games to golf, requiring a ball and stick, have existed at least as far back as the 13th century. For example, the Dutch created a very similar game in the 13th century. In the early Dutch sport, the person who could hit a leather ball to the target in the fewest number of shots would win.

The modern game of golf is different from other stick and ball sports because of the hole. With this definition, we can credit the invention of the sport to Scotland in the 15th century.

Golf did not take off quickly at first. In fact, golf was banned several times in the 15th century. King James II of Scotland prohibited golf and other games because he thought them to be a distraction from archery and other military training.

Thankfully, In 1502, King James IV released The Treaty of Glasgow, which removed restrictions on playing golf.

In 1744, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers published “Articles and Laws in Playing at Golf.” These are the oldest recorded rules for golf.

Golf still had some developing to do. When the Royal and Ancient Golf Club was founded in 1754, the Old Course in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland only had 12 holes. 10 holes were played twice within a round, making it a 22-hole round.

In 1764, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club combined the first four holes on the Old Course to create an 18-hole round, which has now become the standard.

The International History of Golf

While Golf existed since the 15th century, it wasn’t until the 18th century that it began to spread outside of Scotland.

First, Scottish soldiers and emigrants spread the game of golf around Britain. Then, in the 19th century, golf started to be recognized internationally. The first golf courses outside of Britain were established in France.

In 1787, the South Carolina Golf Club was founded in the U.S. Then, over a century later, in 1894, the United States Golf Association was formed.

By 1880, golf had spread through much of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, and South Africa.

In May of 1921, 11 U.S. golfers were invited to King’s Course at Gleneagles to compete with British golfers in the Open Championship. The Great Britain team beat the U.S. team in matches with scores of 9 to 3.

In 1926, Samuel Ryder participated in the second unofficial match between Great Britain and the U.S in Wentworth. The British team won 13 to 1. Samuel Ryder was determined to continue golf competitions between the U.S. and Great Britain and donated a trophy for the first Ryder Cup in 1927. The Ryder Cup, now a three-day tournament between the U.S. and Europe, continued from then on every two years.

Women in Golf

Records show that women have been playing golf since the 16th century. Women have not only participated in golf, but they have played a pivotal role in the sport’s development.

Issette Miller was a leading female golfer in 1893 and invented the first golf handicapping system. This invention evened the playing field for less experienced golfers so that they could still practice and compete alongside those with more experience.

In 1917, the Women’s Tournament Committee of the United States Golf Association was formed. Then in 1946, the first U.S. Women’s Open was held at Spokane Country Club in Seattle, Washington.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) was formed soon after in 1950.

In 1990, men and women competed head to head for the first time at the Invitational Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Juli Inkster, a female competitor, made women everywhere proud when she won by one stroke.

Learn more here about the many other incredible female golfers.

Doesn’t knowing the history of golf make you appreciate the sport way more? It sure does for us! We are grateful the Scots invented golf.