History of golf

Golf is a very old game of which the exact origins are unclear. The origin of golf is open to debate as to being Chinese, Dutch or Scottish. However, the most accepted golf history theory is that this sport originated from Scotland in the 1100s.

A game somewhat similar to golf was first mentioned in Dōngxuān Records (Chinese:東軒錄), a Chinese book of 11th Century. It was also mentioned in February 26 in the year 1297 in the Netherlands in a city called Loenen aan de Vecht. Here the Dutch played a game with a stick and leather ball. Whoever hit the ball into a target several hundreds of meters away the most number of times, won.

However modern golf is considered to be a Scottish invention, as the game was mentioned in two 15th-century laws prohibiting the playing of the game of gowf. Some scholars have suggested that this refers to another game which is more akin to modern shinty, hurling or field hockey than golf. A game of putting a small ball in a hole in the ground using clubs was played in 17th-century Netherlands. The word golf derives from the Dutch kolf meaning stick, club or bat (see: Kolven). Flourishing trade over the North Sea during the Middle Ages and early Modern Period led to much langauge interaction between Scots, Dutch, Flemish and other languages. There are reports of even earlier accounts of golf from continental Europe.

The oldest playing golf course in the world is The Old Links at Musselburgh Racecourse. Evidence has shown that golf was played on Musselburgh Links in 1672 although Mary, Queen of Scots reputedly played there in 1567.

Golf courses have not always had eighteen holes. The St Andrews Links occupy a narrow strip of land along the sea. As early as the 15th century, golfers at St Andrews, in Fife, established a customary route through the undulating terrain, playing to holes whose locations were dictated by topography. The course that emerged featured eleven holes, laid out end to end from the clubhouse to the far end of the property. One played the holes out, turned around, and played the holes in, for a total of 22 holes. In 1764, several of the holes were deemed too short, and were therefore combined. The number was thereby reduced from 11 to nine, so that a complete round of the links comprised 18 holes.

The major changes in equipment since the 19th century have been better mowers, especially for the greens, better golf ball designs, using rubber and man-made materials since about 1900, and the introduction of the metal shaft beginning in the 1930s. Also in the 1930s the wooden golf tee was invented. In the 1970s the use of metal to replace wood heads began, and shafts made of graphite composite materials were introduced in the 1980s.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia