History of Golf - Where And How Golf Game Started?

The name golf originated from the Dutch word colf or colve which is a name for a stick that is used in a game call kolven. There are many the ball-and-stick games similar to the golf that was played in ancient times.

As being said almost every civilization played some kind of game that included ball and stick with the variations in rules and form. One of the most popular and most famous game was the game of “Gowf”, as it was known in Scotland. On Scotland’s east coast the game was played by the citizens of Leith, St. Andrews and Aberdeen and it has been raised to the great game that is loved and played by millions of people.

Great Triumvirate Game

Possible Golf Origins - Pre 14th Century Golf History

Paganica from Ancient Rome

One of the first forms of the game that have similarities with the modern golf is a Roman game of Paganica. In that game, players hit a feather-stuffed leather ball with club-shaped tree branches. Balls were bigger than today's golf balls, with 15 centimeters in diameter. Paganica was played in many parts of Roman empire during the first century BC, and there were probably many different names and variations of a game.

Kolven from Netherlands

In Netherlands, there is a game called Kolven of Kolf. Apart from similarities in rules, the name golf originates from that game’s name. In Kolven four players hit the ball over some distance and the first player that reaches its opponents’ starting point is the winner. This game was first mentioned in a Middle-Dutch manuscript Boeck Merlijn written by the Flemish poet Jacob van Maerlant in 1261. The game of colf was banned in Brussels in 1360 by its council with a fine of 20 shillings to whoever breaks the ban.

Chuiwan from Ancient China

Another game with the rules similar to modern golf is a Chuiwan (where “chui” means hitting and ”wan” means small ball in Chinese), which was played in ancient China and it was described as “game in which you hit a ball with a stick while walking.” The game dates back to 943 AD, during the Song Dynasty and it was the favorite game among palace maids and ordinary people of that time. Even the emperors played it, and the imperial clubs were made of precious materials like precious stones and gold. The game also became a competitive sport. Later, during the time of Oing dynasty, the game was rarely played.

Cambuca from England

There is also a record of a game similar to golf called Cambuca (a term of Celtic origin) that was played in England in the 12th century. Like Paganica, the game was played with a leather ball and a bent club.

Hurling from Ireland

Hurling is a game that originated in Ireland. The objective of the game is to hit a ball with a wooden stick into the opponents’ goalposts. The game is probably more than three thousand years old. It is one of the Gaelic games which are native to Ireland, and it was played by teams representing neighboring villages. There are many similarities between Hurling and Gaelic football. Game of Hurling was originally played on both ice and grass, but because of mild climate in Ireland, it was usually played on grass. The one and only time that hurling was on the Olympic was at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States.

Shinty from Scotland

In Scotland, another game that is played with stick and ball is very popular: Shinty. The game has some similarities with field hockey, but also some important differences. Today it is played mainly in the Scottish Highlands and, traditionally, during the winter months. At New Year’s Day, the whole villages would gather to play Shinty. The game is played by the wooden stick that is slanted on both sides and called a caman. Just like the Hurling, it is usually paled on grass because of the weather, but it can also be played on ice. Shinty also has the same root as the Welsh game of bando.

Jeu de mail from France

A game called Jeu de mail or jeu de maille is a lawn game that was played in France during the Late Middle Ages with the first record of the game is a text from 1416. The game can be described as a ground billiards with several different rules variations. There was still some places where the game was played in the 20th century.

Chaugan from the Middle East

There is a game called Chaugan that is played in the Middle East and it has similarities with polo and golf: it is played with a ball, horses, and sticks. The translation of a name can be “four corners”.

Golf Beginnings - 1353 – 1850

Golf was banned , along with football by the King James II in 1457. It was done to preserve the skills of archery. The ban was reaffirmed by the kings James III and James IV as well. In the year 1502, the ban was finally lifted after signing of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace between Scotland and England. After that King James IV makes the first recorded purchase of golf equipment. The first recorded female golf player was Mary, the Queen of Scots in 1567 . The first golf ball (featherie ball) was invented in 1618. Golf was banned in Albany, New York in 1658 and that was the first record of golf in America. Many English kings played golf, such as Charles I and William IV. Many golf clubs were formed at that time as well. The first golf match that was reported in a newspaper was a match between Captain John Porteous and Alexander Elphinstone in 1724. The first book that is describing golf is Thomas Mathison's epic The Goff which was published in 1743. The guta-precha ball or the “guttle” was invented in 1848 which was much less expensive to make, and it helped the game to expand.

Boys Playing Golf 18th Century

History of Modern Golf – 1851-1945

This part of golf history was marked by forming many new golf clubs such as The Prestwick Golf Club, The King James VI Golf Club and much, much more. In 1860 Willie Park Senior of Scotland won the first Open Championship in Prestwick. Oxford won the first University Match that was played in the London Scottish Golf Club course at Wimbledon, in 1878. At the beginning of the 20th century, Walter Travis won three U.S Amateurs and published his book, Practical Golf.

Post-WWII Golf –1946-Today

In 1947 the golf was broadcast via television for the first time. Many golf magazines were born during this time. The first golf magazine was Golf World. In 1973 the graphite shaft was invented. At the end of the century, many new materials for golf clubs were introduced, such as metal, stainless steel, graphite, titanium, carbon fiber, and tungsten.

Golf History by Countries

The first record of golf in the United States was in 1657 when two drunk men were arrested for breaking the windows by hitting balls with the stick . Next year the golf was prohibited in that state. The Northeastern United States was the first part of the country where people start playing golf. The oldest golf club in the US is Savannah Golf Club which was established in 1794 or 1795. The first golf course was built in February 1888, by a man named John ReidIn. The game of golf spread slowly because the country is recovering itself from the Civil war. In a matter of fact, golf became more popular in Canada than the US at that time. USGA - The United States Golf Association was established in 1894 and in 1916 The American Professional Golfers Association, or PGA was formed. Today, there are more than ten thousand USGA affiliated golf clubs.

The first golf club in Japan was formed in 1903 by a group of British expatriates. A golf course at Kobe was constructed at that time. In 1914, the Tokyo Golf Club was founded. After World War II golf gains much of its popularity in Japan and by the year of 2009, there were over two thousand and four hundred courses countrywide. There are also a lot of golf courses that are built throughout the Pacific Rim which was caused by the popularity of golf in Japan.

Some people believe that the golf was played in Melbourne, Australia back in 1847 but the first club that was formed was the Royal Adelaide Golf Club, in 1870. In 1873, the Christchurch Golf Club was formed in New Zealand.

The first golf course in Sweden was made by English architect, Edvard Milner on a private Estate in Ryfors in 1888. It had six holes.

Great Triumvirate Game
Boys Playing Golf 18th Century