Golf is one of the oldest sports in the world and has its roots in medieval Scotland. It is believed that the game was first played as far back as the 12th century, although the exact origins are shrouded in mystery. Despite its long history, the sport has evolved over the centuries, adapting to changing social and cultural trends, as well as new technology and innovations. This article will explore the rich history of the sport, from its early beginnings in Scotland to its evolution into the popular sport it is today.

Medieval Scotland: The birthplace of Golf

Golf originated in Scotland, where the first documented game was played in the late 15th century. During this time, Scotland was a country of rolling hills, wild moors, and a rugged coastline, and it was here that the first golfers took to the links. These early sports people used a stick and a ball, often made from leather and stuffed with feathers, to hit the ball from one point to another. Over time, the sport evolved, with golfers refining their techniques and developing new equipment.

A painting of Mary Queen of Scots golfing in medieval Scotland

The royal and ancient Golf Club of St Andrews: The home of Golf

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is one of the oldest and most prestigious golf clubs in the world and is considered by many to be the birthplace of the sport. The club was founded in 1754, and it was here that the first rules of the game were established. Over the years, the club has played an important role in shaping the sport, and it remains one of the most influential organisations in the sport today.

The evolution of the sport: From Scotland to the World

Over the centuries, the game has spread from Scotland to the rest of the world, becoming a popular sport in many countries. The sport reached its first major milestone in 1860 when the first Open Championship was held at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. This tournament, which is now known as The Open, is the oldest golf tournament in the world and has since become one of the sport’s major events. In the late 19th century, golf reached the United States, where it quickly gained popularity. Today, the sport is played in many countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Europe, Asia, and South America.

The golden age: The 1920s and 1930s

The 1920s and 1930s are often referred to as the “Golden Age” of golf, as this was a time when the sport saw a surge in popularity. This was largely due to the rise of golf legends such as Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, and Gene Sarazen, who dominated the sport and helped to raise its profile. During this time, golf courses were built in many countries, and the sport continued to evolve, with new equipment and techniques being developed.

Golfer Bobby Jones collecting his trophy

Golf in the modern era

In the decades since the Golden Age of golf, the sport has continued to evolve and grow in popularity. In the 1950s and 1960s, the sport was transformed by new technology, such as the introduction of steel-shafted clubs, which made the sport more accessible to players of all levels. In the 1970s and 1980s, it saw the rise of legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson, who dominated the sport and helped to keep it in the public eye. Today, the sport is one of the most popular sports in the world, with millions of players and fans around the globe.

However, in the past year or so there has been a lot of controversy in the sport. For many years the PGA was the main body responsible for organising global tournaments and sorting out player rankings. But then came in the big money from the Middle East which formed the LIV and poached players from the PGA Tour. It has caused a lot of bad feelings between players of the two organisations with Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed being one of the most high-profile rivalries right now in the LIV vs PGA battle.


Golf has a rich and fascinating history, tracing its roots back to medieval Scotland. From its humble beginnings as a simple game played on the links, the game has evolved into a highly competitive sport, played all around the world with millions paid out in prize money every year. We’ve touched up briefly on the history here, but we feel it is well worth investigating more yourself because there is a lot of interesting information to uncover.

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