As with any other modern sport, the early origins of golf stretch thousands of years back. A game similar to what we know today as golf was played during the reign of Julius Caesar, and has gone through various changes until it became the modern-day sport. From striking a feather-stuffed ball with club-shaped tree branches, to a game where a leather ball was hit with the intention of reaching a target, several hundred yards away, to hitting a ball through hoops using a hammer ‒ various nations had different versions of the game, but the roots of today’s game are traced back to 1457 in Scotland.
Origins of golf
Even though the credit for inventing golf goes to Scotland, the origins of golf can also be traced back to the Song Dynasty in China between 10thand 13thcentury. However, in 1457, the game was outlawed by King James II of Scotland, and it has become a pastime in Great Britain a few centuries later. The Company of Gentlemen Golfers was formed in 1744 by a group of golfers calling themselves “Gentlemen of Honour”, now known as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. This is believed to be the oldest golf club in the world. The earliest clubs were also the Royal Blackheath Golf Club near London, established in 1766, and the Old Manchester Golf Club founded at Kersal Moor in 1818. The first tournament ‒ British Open ‒ took place in 1860 after which the popularity of the sport started to spread through the world, going all the way to North America, Australia and all over the world.
How the sport was developed
As golf progressed, it slowly started to improve its equipment. Early golf clubs were made of wood and iron but, unlike today’s clubs, the iron ones were only used for getting out of ditches, ruts and similar difficult spots. Woods were used for approaches in most parts of the game. The Honourable Company drew up the original set of rules for golf, which were later modified and turned into today’s rules. The truly modern-day game emerged in the 19thcentury and the changes that contributed to the modernization were mostly related to the enhancement of the equipment. Before 1848, golf balls were made of feathers and leather, and in 1848, Rev. Adam Patterson created the first gutta-percha ball, made of the rubber-like sap of the Gutta tree. Golf thrived in the United Kingdom during the 19thcentury, which was the reason this sport started spreading throughout the world, leading to the founding of the first clubs in Australia. While some of the clubs lost their home course through the years, others have stayed in the game and eventually, the sport started to spread throughout the land. Today, Australians have the opportunity to visit numerous golf clubs in Sydneyand enjoy this thrilling sport at various locations anytime they want. Even though it remained an amateur game for years, golf managed to become a professional sport in the early 1900s.
The game we know today
The new era of golf began in 1930 with Bobby Jones’s ‒ one of the most influential figures in golf ‒ retirement. As the equipment became better, the scores started lowering, and steel-shafted golf clubs became the standard. Amateurs were no longer competing, but the professional games became a priority. Today, golf is one of the stronger sport, attracting TV revenues and awarding high purses year after year. Various presidents loved the sport as well, including Woodrow Wilson who was such an avid admirer that he even had his golf balls painted black so that he could play golf even when it’s snowing.
From Scotland, through North America and all the way to Australia, golf has become a worldwide sport, worshipped by millions of people. We can only hope to see more amazingly talented players in the following years, and enjoy this remarkable sport.
About the Author:
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.