The popularity of golf has become widespread in different parts of the world over the years. With its unique set of rules, exciting mechanics, and skill requirement – it is no wonder why this sport captured the hearts of many players. The significance of golf developed from being a mere pastime to a competitive sport, wherein several players compete in different parts of the globe. Today, it is no doubt that golf is considered as one of the most popular games in the history of sports. In this article, we are going to look into the incredible history of golf: how did it developed into the fascinating game that many people enjoy today.
What is Golf?
Before looking into the history of golf, let us first learn more about the game. For starters, most of us may be already familiar with golf; it is a game that involves the use of various clubs to hit the ball into the holes located in different parts of the course. It is widely known as an outdoor sport, but it could also be played indoors for some small recreational courses. The main objective of the game is to have as fewer strokes as possible when hitting the balls into the holes.
Now, the game becomes more unique and interesting because of its diverse terrains ang courses. Other ball games, such as basketball, volleyball, football, and so on, all use a standard field or court to play. However, golf is quite different since that each golf course has distinct features, in which players should adapt. Some of the courses’ special features include rocky and wet terrain, which adds up to the challenge for the players. As diverse as it seems, every golf courses still follow a standard appearance; they usually come in an eighteen-hole or nine-hole field.
Tournaments, as well as ordinary games held in golf courses, usually played in a format called “stroke play.” This method of playing golf comprises of having the lowest number of strokes by a player. It is regarded as the most common format in playing golf, but other methods are also known to be used in the field, such as “match play.”
History of Golf
Now that we already have a brief knowledge of the game, let us now dig deeper and look into its history. Records show that modern golf originated in Scotland during the 15th century. However, various speculations arise stating that the game has its origins way back to ancient times. This theory may be unclear, but many historians believe that golf was already an exciting sport thousands of years ago.
Some of the speculations related to the history of golf could be traced back to ancient Rome, where people used to play a game with the use of a bent stick and a stuffed leather ball. This game was called paganica, and the mechanics were simple as it closely resembles modern golf; players need to hit the leather ball with the bent stick. In theory, this game gradually evolved over the years, resulting to the game we know today.
Besides paganica, there were many other games that were regarded as golf’s origin. Other speculations state that China had its own version called chuiwan; England had cambuca; France had chambot; Persia had chowkan, and Netherlands had kolven – all having similarities with modern-day golf.
Fast-forward to the 15th century, it was regarded by historians as the time when the game originated. Records show that the first written record of golf was created during this time in Scotland. It was an ordinance made by James II that aimed to ban the game in 1457. Years later, the ban was lifted by James IV in 1502, who also a known golfer. The Old Course at St Andrews is often considered as the home of golf; it was established in 1552, which initially showcased a 22-hole field. Modifications were made in the mid-18th century, decreasing the number of holes from twenty-two to eighteen.
The Open Championship, which is played annually, is considered as the oldest existing golf tournament in the world. The first major tournament was held at Prestwick Golf Club, in Ayrshire, Scotland on October 17, 1860.