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When Was Golf Invented?

Published on 04/11/2023 · 10 min readInterested in golf's long history? Or, maybe you're new to golf due to its increased popularity and are interested in recent record-breaking events. Golf Expert Eric Hall answers common questions about golf's legacy.
By Golf Expert Eric Hall

The Ailsa Course at the Turnberry Resort in Scotland. Photo by Your Golf Travel

Golf has a long and royal history in addition to its contemporary history. To help make sense of golf's background and its major events, I’ve broken down some of the common questions I’ve fielded as a Golf Expert here on Curated.

When was golf invented?

Many variations of the game of golf have been noted in ancient times, some all the way back to the Roman Empire in the first century B.C. However, many historians date the game as you may know it now to have begun in the 15th century in Scotland.

Where did golf originate?

Golf is generally attributed to having its origins in Scotland, as Scotland is home to the certified oldest golf course in the world. Scotland is also home to St. Andrews, also known as the old course, a course that serves as a staple on most bucket lists of avid and recreational golfers alike. St. Andrews is just off the east coast of Scotland and was home to The Open in 2022. (The Open is also called the British Open. However, the British Open came before the U.S. Open, so traditionalists and the USGA, or the United States Golf Association, started just calling it The Open). Scotsmen brought the game over to the United States in the late 1800s.

Who invented golf?

While it is becoming more contentious, the conglomeration of all the modern ways golf is played is attributed to the Scots. They were the first to use holes rather than just putting targets in the ground, as well as creating the idea of 18 holes on a course. The Chinese have a game called “chuiwan'' that is similar and has been used as an argument that they invented the game of golf. Some may also credit the creation of the game to the honorable company of Edinburgh golfers, who created a group in 1744 who played on a 5-hole course. Even though this is after the 16th century, when golf was supposedly created, there is no way to know for sure.

Since golf has been created, there have been many different forms of golf balls and golf clubs. The gutta-percha, along with the featherie ball and leather ball, were some of the evolutions of the golf ball before the rubber core Titleist ProV1 which is used by many professionals in the modern game of golf today.

Who created the 18 holes in golf?

There used to be 22 holes at the original golf course, St. Andrews in Scotland. In 1764, the golfers at the club decided to combine some of the holes and created the first course with 18 holes. It would take a century or more, however, for there to be the first 18-hole course.

When did golf come to America?

Golf came to America in the late 1800s when a few Scotsmen decided to show off the game in an orchard in New York. They would later create the first American golf course in Yonkers, New York. This golf course was named after St. Andrews in Scotland. However, this was not the first ever 18-hole golf course. Chicago Golf Club holds that title and was the first permanent golf club. It has held recent tournaments, such as the 2018 US Senior Women's Open. It was founded at the end of the 18th century, in 1892. The first ever golf-specific country club in the United States was called The Country Club. It is located in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Why is it called golf?

Despite the joke that golf stands for the acronym “Gentleman Only, Ladies Forbidden,” golf does not stand for anything in particular. Instead, it is simply an etymologically evolved word that used to be “goff” in Scottish and “kolf” in Dutch, meaning club.

What are the 4 majors in golf?

Within the PGA Tour, also known as the Professional Golfer's Association, the four majors in golf are the Masters, the US Open, which has been played at Shinnecock Hills 5 times, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. Three of the four are played in North America, while The Open, as mentioned above, is played in Great Britain. The Masters is the only major played on the same course each year, while the other 3 rotate through various selections of courses.

What are some of the other notable tournaments?

Professional golfers and amateurs have the option and opportunity to compete for the first prize and to play in golf tournaments all throughout the golf season. Other than majors, there are many tournaments each year, such as the Honda Classic, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, AT&T Byron Nelson, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and so many more.

There are also many amateur championships each year for those who do not have their PGA tour cards. Tournaments such as the British Amateur Championship are a big deal, while the Savannah Golf Club hosts the Club Car Championship every year as an event on the Korn Ferry Tour. The National Amateur Championship is played in Georgia at Champions Retreat, while the final rounds are played at Augusta National, home of the Masters.

However, there are courses to be found everywhere. While the US hosts many incredible courses such as Pebble Beach, Bandon Dunes, and courses that I have personally played in Charleston, SC, other countries such as New Zealand, Australia, France, Great Britain, and even the Netherlands host incredible courses. Some of these courses are links courses, which feature no trees and rolling acres, but that is all part of the fun! Golf courses everywhere have a tremendous variety.

Who has won the most majors in golf?

Jack Nicklaus has won the most majors in golf with a total of 18 wins. Tiger Woods is currently close behind in second with 15 major victories. Outside of Nicklaus’ incredible winning record, he also holds the record for most runner-up finishes in majors as well.

Ben Hogan does have an incredible record, though. He won 9 or 16 majors in a row from 1946 to 1953. This is a feat that is remarkable, but Hogan was truly at his best during majors.

Although he ranks second in major victories, Woods is arguably one of the most popular golfers (and athletes) in history. He's considerably less active on the pro circuit these days, but his legend keeps interest in him very high. Here are a few fun facts about golf's beloved once-child prodigy:

Fun Facts About Tiger Woods

When did Tiger start playing golf?

Tiger Woods’s father, Earl, began teaching him the basics of golf and working on his swing by the age of 2. Tiger would eventually turn pro at the age of 19 after winning three US Amateur titles in his amateur career.

How far is Tiger Woods's average drive?

On the PGA Tour in 2021, Tiger’s driving distance was 290.2 yards. According to many different sources, his average driver carry is roughly 285 yards. Neither of these stats lives up to the dominance he had over the other golfers in his prime when his average driving distance was near the top every year.

How many hole-in-ones does Tiger Woods have?

In his entire career, Tiger Woods has holed 20 tee shots on par threes. On the PGA Tour, he has made 2 of them, both in the 1990s. His first was at the Greater Milwaukee Open, and his second was at the Phoenix Open.

What is Tiger Woods's best score?

Tiger’s lowest round on the PGA Tour during a golf tournament is a 61, which he has shot on a few different occasions. In majors, his lowest round is a 63, which is tied for the lowest round recorded. He shot it in the second round of his victorious PGA Championship in 2007. In his career, he has apparently shot a 59 once when he was playing Isleworth with his friend Mark O’Meara.

Photo by Keith Allison

Who has the most golf wins worldwide?

In terms of PGA Tour wins, Tiger Woods and Sam Snead are tied at 82 wins each. Tiger has accumulated 107 wins worldwide, both in sanctioned PGA Tour wins and in other tournaments. Tiger would be able to hold the top spot by himself with one more successful tournament.

Has anyone ever won all 4 golf majors in one year?

Winning all 4 golf majors in one year is called the grand slam. Back before the Masters, Bobby Jones won all four majors in a calendar year, becoming the first and only man to accomplish that feat. Tiger Woods won the “Tiger Slam” where he held all of the titles at the same time, but he started at the US Open and finished with the Masters the following year.

What female golfer has won the most majors?

The female golfer with the most majors is Patty Berg. She won 15 from 1937-1958. In the more modern era, Annika Sorenstam’s dominance comes to mind with a total of 10 before her retirement.

What is the longest putt in golf history?

In terms of the PGA Tour, the longest putt made was in 2008, when Craig Barlow started his round with a 111.5-foot eagle putt. However, if you take non-sanctioned PGA events into account, Michael Phelps drained a 157-foot putt over on the European Tour during a pro-am.

Which president played the most golf?

The owner of this prestigious record is not any president from the last fifty years. In fact, the president with the most rounds of golf played is none other than Woodrow Wilson. He played 1200 rounds of golf during his presidency! Dwight Eisenhower is second with a tally of roughly 800 rounds played.

Has anyone ever birdied all 18 holes?

While this may have happened in an unofficial capacity, it has never happened in an officially regulated round. The lowest score on the PGA Tour is a 58 shot by Jim Furyk in 2016 at the Travelers Championship. The lowest official round is a 55 shot by a man playing in Oklahoma. He recorded 2 eagles and 12 birdies alongside 4 pars on a par 71 course.

Who holds the longest drive in golf?

Carl Cooper has the longest drive on the PGA Tour, hitting a bomb of 787 yards (aided by the cart path) back in 1992. He ended up 300 yards past the green he was trying to play and ended up scoring a double bogey on the hole. Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, and Tiger Woods have recorded lengths of 480+ in the 2000s.

Who has shot the lowest round of golf ever?

The lowest recorded score recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records belongs to a man who shot a 55. On the PGA Tour, Jim Furyk’s 58 is the lowest score, followed by a handful of others at 59, including some who shot the same -12 score relative to par.


  • Golf probably came from Scotland in the 15th century.
  • Courses were varying sizes, but they are now all 18 holes.
  • The PGA Tour is the most prestigious golf league in the US, in which there are 4 "Major" tournaments.
  • Tiger Woods added a prestigious amount of popularity and money to the game of golf.
  • There are fantastic golf courses in the US and all over the world. Go out and play!

Do you have any other questions about golf or how to improve your game with the right gear? Chat with me or one of my fellow Golf Experts here on Curated anytime for free advice and recommendations.

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Written by:
Eric Hall, Golf Expert
Eric Hall
Golf Expert
I have been giving advice to my friends and family about what clubs and balls to play to better their game since I started playing golf. From beginners to experts, they all have seen improvement in their game by finding the right clubs, shafts, and balls to put in their bags before hitting the course. I look forward to finding the perfect blend of fit, price, and performance for your game as well!

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