Nowadays it is hard to point out the exact time of appearance of Golf. According to some assumptions, its founders were the medieval shepherds who began to hit the stones with their staffs while herding sheep. According to another version, the Golf came from the ancient Flemish game called “choie”, which was already known in England from the middle of XIV century. The most likely forerunner of Golf was the Danish game of “kolf”, which was first mentioned in the end of XIII century and which is depicted in many Dutch landscapes of that time. “Golfers” played on rough ground with a stick and a ball, but weren’t aiming at the hole, but to a certain mark on the ground.
But still the home of Golf is considered to be the Scottish town of St Andrews. The name of the settlement comes from the name of St. Andrew. His tomb is in the ancient, half-ruined Cathedral, which was built about six centuries ago. But the most interesting is that one of the stained-glass windows of this Cathedral has the image of a man, wielding a stick. Official beginning of the history of the game is considered to be a written reference, which dates back to 1457. Ironically, this reference relates to the prohibition of Golf by King James. This happened because Golf lessons could distract soldiers from training in shooting.
Golf is positioned in many traditions, which are based on various legends. For example, the first woman who ever played Golf is Queen of Scotland, Mary Stuart. And the title of the oldest club in any way cannot be shared by “the Gentleman Golfers”, founded in 1744, and the “Royal Burgess Golf Society”, whose members argue that the club was established in 1735.
The first Golf course in Scotland had little in common with today’s fields. The game was held at public ground, where it was quieter, with overcoming natural obstacles and barriers. Such field was natural and the grass was “mowed” only by sheep and rabbits.
It is also interesting that the oldest Golf course is the Old Links, which is located on Musselburgh racetrack. According to some sources, the first games on this field took place in 1672. There was no formal tee; the players performed their first strike in meters from the previous holes. Of course, the rules evolved over the years, while the Golf clubs had been opening. The oldest of them is the “Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers”, now based in Mirfield, was founded in 1744, and 10 years later the “Society of St Andrews’ Golfers” was created.
Under the leadership of the “Society of St Andrews’ Golfers” the basic rules of the game and the number of holes on the course have developed. Until 1764 the course had 22 holes, and other ones had from 6 to 25 holes. In 1858 the 18-hole Golf course was established. This rule has survived to this day. The game rapidly spread and developed, and in mid-1800-ies the first professional players appeared. Another memorable event occurred in February 1971 when astronaut, the captain of the ship “Apollo 14”, Alan Shepard made two swings with the ball on the moon!