The Extremely Interesting History of Golf By Treccani Milano Posted on 27 Apr 14:55

PGA Womens Golf Player, Treccani Milano Golf history blog post


Sheep herders and hunter gatherers were the only rudimentary civilization that spanned the great north of Europe and Scandinavia. But before even then pieces of golf we know today began appearing. 

We start in 100 BC. The Roman games are in full swing and one of them is very similar to golf. It is called Paganica, involving the players to use a bent stick to hit a leather ball that is stuffed to give it some weight. Similarly, halfway around the world, a game with basic clubs and a ball are intorduced in the Song Dynasty of China between 960 and 1279.

Now here is the most commonly known part of golf history. The fifteenth century in Scotland proved a challenging time for golf. Just as it was growing in popularity it found itself banned my the King of Scotland. In 1457 the Scottish Parliament made a huge decision to put a ban on playing golf AND football (soccer). The reason; it was getting in the way of archery practice, which was of extreme importance for national defense. King James ll agreed with the new law and reaffirmed his decision in 1471 and 1491.


Scottish archer in the fourteenth century


Finally after many years and some relative peace in Scotland the ban on golf and football in Scotland was lifted in 1500. And within two years King James ll took up the pastime himself!

It was after this great proclamation that golf in Europe began to really gain momentum. In 1552 the Archbishop Hamilton's Charter "recognizes the right of the people" and allows the people of St. Andrews to play on the long deserted golf course.

In 1567 it gains a great following as Mary Queen of Scots reportedly plays a game soon after the death of her husband Lord Darnley. With all of the Scottish royal family it begins to move south as King James Vl inherits the English throne as well as the Scottish in 1603. With this monumental move the game is picked up at Blackheath in London, England.

Like any great sport it begins to evolve. 1724 marks the year in which the golf ball is said to be stuffed with feathers instead of rough leather.  Golf gains further popularity in the first recorded reference of golf making ground in North America shows up in Massachusetts on the estate of William Burnet, the current Governor of the area.

Before golf made strides in popularity, now it becomes restricted with the very first set of rules in 1744; made by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. And only 10 years later The Society of St Andrews Golfers is formed. A historic event given it is still alive and well today. This club also became the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1834. St. Andrews golf course changes again in 1764 when the course is moved around to have 18 holes instead of the 22 they had previously. This set the standard for all other golf courses in the world.


Early form of golf ball

 The golf ball is again reinvented to be a solid and made of strips of gutta percha ( dried sap of Sapodilla tree). The strips are put in boiling water and then molded to create the ball shape before being placed in cold water to keep its round shape. All of this taking place in 1848. 

The game of golf reaches peak competition in 1860 when the very first ever Men's Open Championship taking place at Prestwick and is won by Willie Park Senior of Scotland. Golf's first champion is born, and the rest of the country is hooked.

Golf rests on its laurels for a few years as the next major development is not until 1885. The idea of an amateur event  at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club is received with anticipation and enthusiasm and the first ever amateur game is played and won by Allan MacFie of England.

Now it is the golf clubs turn to receive an update. Golf clubs previously made of any kind of wood now are being restyled. Persimmon becomes the most popular wood to create golf clubs and is used widely by the golfing community in the 1890s.




Not until 1893 the women of Europe get a say. The Ladies’ Golf Union is formed in the UK resulting in the first ever British Ladies’ Amateur Golf Championship played in the same year at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Women waste no time in keeping up with the men and crown their first champion Lady Margaret Scott of England.

 Once Europe becomes more progressive North America soon follows suit. 1894 sees the formation of The United States Golf Association (USGA) is formed in New York. This association is important for many reasons. Not only just to have a North American distinction but many purposes including service as an arbitrator for questions and concerns of amateur status. This marks the 5th charter member  following the newly formed the USGA were the St. Andrew’s Golf Club of Yonkers, N.Y., Newport (R.I.) Golf Club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill.

1895 marks another milestone for golf players as the championships become well established for both men and women. The US Amateur Championship and the US Open are played for the first time at Newport Country Club, Rhode Island and are won respectively by Charles B Macdonald (USA) and Horace Rawlins (England).  As well as the US Women’s Amateur Golf Championship is also played for the first time at Meadow Brook Club in Long Island and is won by Lucy Barnes Brown of the USA.

5 years later Golf has becomes so popular it is the newest sport at the Paris 1900 Olympic Games! With a meager 22 players from four different countries to compete in a 36 hole course.

A year later a rubber golf ball called the Haskell Ball is reputed to be the best and newest in golfing technology. This also surprisingly changed how current members play the game. It was a lighter and sturdier make and so traveled a lot farther than the old version and was easier to get a hold of because of its ability to be mass produced. Therefore golfers had to change there game to compensate for a lighter ball and the game rose in popularity. 

 The PGA is soon formed in the United Kingdom in 1901 and the American PGA follows 15 years later.

First female Golf champion in 1921

The early 1920's see wide swept championships held all over the world. The Ryder Cup in 1921 boasts professionals from Great Britain  and The Walker Cup in 1922 featured a great competition between the USA, Ireland and Great Britain; and was won by the USA.

After the golf ball finds its' peak design the golf club changes as well. In 199 steel shafts on golf clubs are officially accepted by the R&A (Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews).

Women are slower to get their own competitions but not forgotten altogether. 1946 marks the year the US Women’s Open is played for the first time at Spokane Country Club in Washington and is won by Patty Berg of the USA. Only two years later The Ladies’ Professional Golfers’ Association (LPGA) is formed in the USA.

With the popularity of television it becomes clear what PGA must do next. Breaking ground in 1953  The Tam O’ Shanter World Championship of Golf becomes the first nationally televised golf tournament in the USA.

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1964       A friendly match between the American Curtis team and France is expanded to invite other international teams to establish a Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. The trophy was provided by Mrs Espirito Santo Silva through the Portuguese Golf Federation. A total of 25 teams took part in the inaugural competition at St Germain Golf Club in France which was won by the home team.

1976       The Women’s British Open is played for the first time at Fulford Golf Club. It is won by England’s Jenny Lee Smith.

1980’s   Metal woods made of stainless steel are introduced.

1994       The Evian Masters is played for the first time at Evian-les-Bains in France. It is won by Helen Alfredsson of Sweden.

2000’s   Materials such as graphite, titanium, carbon fibre and tungsten are used to manufacture golf clubs.

2003       The World Amateur Golf Council becomes the International Golf Federation.

2010       The 150th anniversary Open Championship takes place on the Old Course at St Andrews.

2016       Golf will be played at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for the first time in 112 years.


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