While there are several iterations of stick and ball games throughout human history, the modern game of golf as we know it today can be traced back to Scotland in the 15th century, says Taylor Moore Arkansas golfer for the Razorbacks. What sets golf apart from its cousin stick-and-ball sports is the addition of the hole. This adds to the stakes and difficulty of the game because it requires aim and accuracy, not just strength and distance.
No one knows who invented golf, but the first recorded mention of the game was actually in 1457 in an Act of Scottish Parliament. The Act called for golf to be abolished, along with football (or what Americans now call soccer). The games were being banned because Scottish King James II believed these sports were serving as a distraction from military training. He preferred his men to take up archery and other military sports.
Despite these royal efforts, golf was a popular game among Scotsmen and the restrictions were lifted in 1502 with the Treaty of Glasgow. Golf is still an extremely popular sport in Scotland today, says Taylor Moore Arkansas golfer. Thousands of tourists flock to the small country each year to play on the world’s oldest and most famous golf courses.
While there were certainly unwritten rules for the game of golf prior, the oldest recorded rules of golf are from 1744. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers published “Articles and Laws in Playing at Golf”, which outlined the standardized rules of the game. They wrote up these rules prior to a day of competition, which suggests that they simply wanted to ensure that everyone agreed on the rules of play beforehand. But the basic principles in these thirteen rules still describe golf as it is played today.
These rules are where we get some terms still used in golf today, like “putting green” and “bunker.” The original article can still be found in the National Library of Scotland, says Taylor Moore Arkansas golfer.
While golf has been popular in Scotland for well over 400 years, it wasn’t popularized in Britain until the 18th century. Scottish immigrants and soldiers brought the game with them and taught their British friends and neighbors. And it didn’t spread to other areas of Europe until the 19th century. The oldest golf course outside of Britain is the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in France, built in 1829.
But by 1880, golf was an established sport in Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Singapore, and most of Western Europe. Meanwhile, the sport was known in America, but not popularized or standardized until the formation of the United States Golf Association in 1894. In just over a decade, they helped establish 267 golf clubs. And the rest is history!
While the rules have evolved with the sport over time, the love of golf has remained the same throughout the ages, says Taylor Moore Arkansas golfer.