What country invented ‘golf?’ Many countries did. If there were sticks and objects that could be hurtled along, then there was ‘golf.’ No one knows for certain who started golf. But everybody knows who plays it now — everyone does.
The origin of the name ‘golf’ is believed to be the Dutch word of ‘colf,’ which means ‘club.’ In the medieval ages, golf was also known as “spel metten colve,’ which literally meant ‘game with clubs.’
Nearly every area around the world has some claim to the origination of golf. Scotland, of course, has its claim. But so do China, Rome, England, France, Holland, Belgium, even Laos. Every country has a game consisting of sticks and balls, and every country is correct in its assumption that it invented the game. But there is no one country where ‘golf’ actually began.
Still, Scotland is widely considered to be birthplace of golf. And it began haphazardly, a way of hitting a pebble or other roundish object into a hole by means of a stick or club.
Edinburgh, Scotland, claimed the first golfing society. The Gentlemen Golfers – later known as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and today in residence at Muirfield – claim their club was already under way in 1744.
The first inter-Scotland club matches were played in 1857. The world would wait until 1860 for the first British Open to be played.
The British Open was being played 35 years before the U.S. Open. It has been called “The World Open.” Players from around the globe participate, as they have for a century or more. The British Open is all-inclusive. The U.S. Open has been moving in that direction for the last decade. But the British Open has been accepting a cast from around the world since the turn of the century.
It is not known for certain when golf came to America — only that when it got a toehold in the 20th century, America became the world leader in great players. By 1900, the explosion of the game in America was complete. Proof was that, at the turn of the century, there were more golf clubs in the United States than there were in Britain.
Tiger Woods came upon the scene in 1996. He won eight times in 1999, nine times in 2000, and won the four major championships in succession in 2000-2001, starting with the U.S. Open in 2000. Should his career be as successful in his 30s and 40s as it has been in his 20s, he will assume the mantle of “best player ever.”
Women have played a very large part in the history of golf, even before the last half of the 20th century when they finally achieved equality with men. Records of ladies playing golf exist all the way back to the time of Mary Queen of Scots.