The History of Golf

A Brief History of Golf

Golf is certainly one of the world’s oldest sports. In the United States, Europe, and many other countries around the world golf courses can be found tucked into quiet neighborhoods, spread along coastal shorelines, or built into remote areas to create an oasis of activity. Professionals and amateur players alike flock to the sport known for its serene style of play. Golf has an extensive history that possibly spans over the course of over a thousand years.

The Beginnings of Golf

The origins of golf are highly debated and have been noted to possibly form from mulitple beginnings. In Ancient Rome, one documented early form of golf was named “paganica.” Paganica was a sport in which a leather ball was hit with a bent stick. It is suggested that the sport spread quickly throughout Europe during the days of the Holy Roman Empire, where Rome had taken over most of the lands of Europe and the Mediterranean. Another probable origin dates to the 8th century during the Ming Dynasty in China. This sport was called chuiwan, and the two syllables of the name directly translate to “strike” and “small ball.” Depictions of the imperial court around this time are depicted hitting a small ball with a stick. The sports “cambuca” from England, “chowkan,” from Persia, and “chambot” from France also suggest various archaic forms of golf.

The Spread of Golf Throughout the World

The sport spread quickly throughout the mainland of Europe and its accompanying islands, and by each country it took hold of it soon evolved into several different versions. France, the Netherlands, England, Persia, and several others played versions of golf that closely resembled modern-day cricket or polo.

Scotland was likely to be the first country in which the modern game of golf was played. Although it was banned by King James IV in 1491, it was reopened several years later with the idea that it was a game that royalty was expected to take part in. The high treasurer during the time period accounts for the years 1502-1506 has accounts denoting the kings golf clubs and balls, among other equipment. Golf quickly evolved into an aristocratic activity.

Historians indicate that the game of golf was spread to England, through which several golfing societies and clubs were formed. From there, British championships and tournaments began. Golf was thereby spread to the thirteen British colonies in the now United States. The first permanent golf club in North America was the Royal Montreal Golf club established in 1873.

In other countries, golf became extremely popular as well. In the mid 1800’s, India established the Royal Calcutta Golf Club and the Royal Bombay Golf club. In Shanghai, golf clubs began to form in the late 1890s. After World War Two, the sport became extremely popular in Japan.

Golf today is celebrated globally. Many clubs host national championships but there are also several international tournaments that take place on famous golf courses throughout the world.