When Was Golf invented? Where Was Golf Invented? Who Invented Golf?

How much do you know about the game we all love playing? We would argue that mankind’s three best inventions are the light bulb, the wheel, and golf!

We do have a bunch of questions. When was golf invented? Where was it invented, and by whom?

How did we get from sticks and rocks to $500+ drivers and Titleist Pro V1s?

Let’s spend some time looking at the history of golf and how it evolved into the modern game we play today.

In this article, we will look at:

  • When Was Golf Invented?
  • Who Invented Golf?
  • Where Was Golf Invented?
  • Who Created The Rules Of Golf?
  • How Was Golf Invented? Major Golf Inventions Over The Years

Let’s jump into it!

A black and white image of people playing golf with the words, "when was golf invented" in the foreground.

When Was Golf Invented?

When was golf invented is such a simple question, but the answer is a bit complex.

Most golf historians agree that the modern game we play today started in Scotland in the 15th century. That being said, it wasn’t very modern.

You would find a round rock and smack it with a stick towards a target in the distance.

The first written record of the game was when King James II banned the activity in 1457 because it was distracting people from learning other skills (archery, etc.)

King James IV lifted the ban in 1502 because he enjoyed playing. Here are some other historical dates that shaped the game we love:

  • 1744: The first rules of golf were published to govern the game
  • 1764: St. Andrews established the concept of a golf course being 18 holes (reduced it from 22 holes)

Who Invented Golf?

Similar to trying to answer the question of when golf was invented, it is equally difficult to answer who invented golf.

Basketball was invented by James Naismith, and Abner Doubleday invented baseball, but the game of golf is not attributed to one person.

The game simply evolved over 500 years to what we play now. Even to this day, the rules of golf continue to evolve with recent changes, including the ban on anchoring your putter.

Two golfers standing on the golfing green in Scotland.

Where Was Golf Invented?

The most common answer you will find is Scotland in the 15th century, but that isn’t the only answer you will receive to this question.

There are records of a Dutch game in the 13th century called apocryphally – it involved hitting a small ball with a stick and counting your strokes.

To be honest, throughout this time in Europe, there are references to activities being played that sound like they could have been the first step towards playing golf.

There are additional theories that golf may have originated in China and that Mongolian travelers brought the game to Europe.

At the end of the day, the concept of trying to hit a ball or rock into a hole is a simple idea that can quickly become a competition.

When was golf invented? Most likely, when two people were bored and wanted to find a way to compete and gamble!

A golf ball and a golf tee lie on the grass next to the word rules.

Who Created The Rules Of Golf?

You can’t have a game without rules, and this is an interesting way to explore the history of a sport.

The answer to “When was golf invented?” might be found by following the creation of rules.

Starting in 1744, the rules of golf started to be documented by different “golf societies” – the most influential were the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith and the Society of St. Andrews Golfers.

Over the next 100 years, we started to see rules defined that are still used today:

  • The unplayable Lie rule was defined, and the concept of stroke play (instead of just match play) – St. Andrews (1759)
  • The rules on outside agencies and plugged balls -Edinburgh Burgess (1773)
  • Limiting search time for a lost ball, and the definition of a stroke – Aberdeen (1777)
  • Defining a match as consisting of 18 holes – St. Andrews (1842)

The next evolution was the creation of governing bodies for the sport. The USGA (United States Golf Association) and the R&A (Royal & Ancient).

It was during this time that we started to see some of the rules we take for granted today. Many of them came to pass because players started to take advantage of loopholes.

Our two favorites are the “# of clubs you can use” and the “stymie.”

The 14-club limit was introduced in 1938 because some players started to use as many as 30 during a round. The caddy’s back must have been sore!

Prior to 1952, you didn’t mark your golf ball on the green. If your opponent’s ball was blocking the hole, you were out of luck. You had to go around it or try to hop it!

When was golf invented? You could argue that the game you play today has been around for less than 100 years!

The USGA and R&A haven’t always enforced the same rules. In fact, the Open Championship allowed you to use a smaller golf ball until 1974!

Today, the rules organizations work together to ensure the game is played the same way around the world.

A white glove holds up a golf tee with a black background.

how was golf invented? Major Golf Inventions Over The Years

Who invented the golf tee?

So, who invented the golf tee? The golf tee, as we know it today, is a relatively new invention. Dr. George Grant created some prototypes and received a patent for his designs in 1899.

He never sold them, though. Instead, he made them and gave them to friends as gifts.

Prior to their invention, golfers would use sand to make a small mound to rest their golf balls on.

It became common practice for courses to have a small box of sand next to the teeing green to allow players to “build a tee.”

An array of old golf balls stand in a row.

When Was Golf Invented? The Golf Ball

The golf ball has gone through an epic journey of new designs and new concepts to reach the modern ball we play today.

We started with wooden balls and quickly moved to leather balls that were stuffed with straw. The first significant golf ball invention was the “featherie” in 1618.

The Featherie was made by stuffing by stuffing leather with goose feathers – they performed much better but were very expensive.

It was 1848 when Dr. Robert Paterson designed the “Guttie” golf ball. It was made from tree sap, which gave it a rubber-like quality.

It was very popular due to improved performance and because it was much cheaper to make than the “featherie.”

It was around this time that the concept of dimples was discovered. Golfers noticed that their ball would fly straighter after it got “nicked up.”

Players would take a new, smooth ball and purposely scrape it to make it perform better. It wasn’t long until golf balls started being made with marks/dimples.

Modern golf balls have a rubber core, and they started being made in 1898. They have continued to improve, but this was the last major invention.

A black golf bag with golf clubs sticking out of it.

When Was Golf Invented? The Golf Bag

When golfers first started playing the game, they simply carried their clubs (some would tie them together with a string or a piece of leather).

The golf bag is a new concept that has been used for less than 100 years. The golf cart was invented in 1956.

It is very rare now to see a player head to the course without a golf bag. You need it to carry all of your golf equipment and accessories!

We hope you have enjoyed our journey through the history of the game. Based on all of this information, when was golf invented?

Up Next: Learn How To Organize Your Golf Bag

Photo of author
Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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