History of Golf

Golf, a sport that has gained prominence in the United States over the last hundred years, is one of the oldest sports still being played today. While the earliest origins of the game are unclear there are a number of similar type games featured in old texts from dozens of countries.


One such reference is to a game originally played by the Dutch in 1297 call Apocryphally. Apocryphally was a game where individuals would try to hit a ball with a wooden stick to a target that was several hundred yards away. The winner was whomever hit the target in the fewest amount of swings or strokes.

While the true origin of the sport may never be settled, the traditional game as we know it today was first referenced in 15th century when King James II banished it because it distracted from the more prominent sport of archery. The 18-hole course was first seen at St. Andrew’s in Scotland as well and courses today are comprised of either 9 or 18 holes.

Popularity in the United States

While the game originated in the 15th century it did not appear in the United States until around the 17thcentury. While a few courses existed in America the game itself was primarily available only to the wealthiest members of society.

Beginning in the 1920s the game gained true prominence and began to expand rapidly and today there are roughly 10,000 United States Golf Association (USGA) golf courses in the country.


The earliest reference to instructions for the game come from the diary of Thomas Kincaid in an entry from January 20, 1687. However, the oldest surviving rules of golf were written in 1744. Today the rules of the game are standardized internationally and overseen jointly by The R&A and USGA organizations. A full rewrite and implementation of the rules of the game was completed in 2019.


The equipment used in golf today have evolved over time as far as materials go, but have existed since the beginning of the game. These include golf clubs, golf balls, and golf headcovers.
  • Golf Clubs - A golfer’s clubs are comprised of both woods and irons. The woods take their name from the earliest versions of golf clubs when the head was made of hardwoods. Not only were the heads made from hard wood, but so too were the shafts. In the game today, these clubs are made from stronger materials such as titanium or a combination of metals with many shafts being made up of graphite.
  • Headcovers – Because the golf clubs of the earliest days were made of hard woods they were particularly susceptible to damage. Cracks chips or dents in the wood could negatively impact a golfers game so the earliest headcovers were designed to help protect them from damage by other clubs and by general transportation of them from place to place.
  • In the game today, professionals and amateurs alike enjoy purchasing custom golf headcovers to both protect their clubs and show off their individual style.
  • Golf Balls – the golf balls of the early game were made up of leather and there were relatively few standards that existed for the golf ball before the 1930s. It was at this time that the USGA set standards for the weight and size of the golf ball.
In the decades since the standardization occurred there have been significant advancements in technology. Golf balls today are composed of different cores, layers, and materials to help improve their performance. From distance to spin a golf ball can really advance or impede a golfer’s game.


While the technology of the game has come light years since the game of golf first made an appearance in the history books the true spirit of the game has endured.