The game of golf was being played from as early as 1400. Although no one is very sure about its place of origin, most people are of the opinion that it originated in Scotland. Since then, there have been innumerable changes in the game, its equipment, and the rules. The sport gained popularity as it was mostly played by the ruling class.
Fact 1 – The Equipment in Its Early Stage
To play the game of golf, a golf club and a golf ball were required. The ball was made of feathers and leather. It was quite difficult to make such balls, and the makers could produce only four or five balls a day. Hence, the cost was also high. In the 1600s, a ball was priced at about $14. Gradually it became cheaper and was available to the lower classes also.
The golf clubs were made of wood and iron as we have them today. But they were used differently in earlier times. The iron was used to get out from difficult spots only—like ditches, ruts, and other hazards. Wood was used exclusively in playing the most part of the game, while iron was rarely used for approaches. After the mid-1800s, the iron clubs began to be used for approaches and for hitting out of difficult spots.
Fact 2 – Gradual Progress in the Game
As the game gradually became popular in various countries of the world, a group of golfers formed the Company of Gentlemen Golfers, which is presently known as Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and is believed to be the oldest golf club in the world. In the 19th century, great changes were witnessed in the game of golf. In this period, the modernization of the equipment was noticed; and, hence, this period is considered as the time when the true game emerged.
A new type of ball was created by Robert Adams Paterson of rubber-like sap of the gutta-percha tree found in tropical areas. It was cheaper than the previous balls and became very popular also because they were easy to repair. This new type of ball was smooth and could travel great distances. Gradually balls were produced on a large scale, and handmade balls disappeared. Accordingly, the golf clubs, too, had to be changed. Iron clubs became more common, and the woods were made firmer and were fitted with leather heads to lessen wear and tear. The names of two famous ball makers and golfers of this time were Tom Morris and Allan Robertson.
Fact 3 – The Game
In the beginning, golf was an amateur game played mostly in Britain and the U.S.A. Later in the 1900s, it took a professional turn. The Amateur Championships of Britain and America were quite famous and well-thought-of events. In 1916 when professional golf gained more popularity in the U.S., an organizational body was required to govern the game. In January, 1916, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America was established. After seven months, they created the first PGA Championship; and it was played at a golf course in Bronxville in New York. In that game, an award of $2,500 was awarded to the winner.
Fact 4 – Women’s Participation
History shows that women have been playing golf since its inception. The Royal and Ancient Club was founded in 1754, and women took active part on the golf courses. In 1867, the Ladies Golf Club of St. Andrews was formed. The Ladies Golf Union was established in 1893 as the governing body for women’s golf in the U.K. and Ireland. In the U.S., women have been at par with men in the game. John Reid set up the first golf course, and there the first mixed-doubles match was played by John Reid and his wife in the U.S.