The popular game of golf has a long and rich history, but its origins are hotly contested. The Dutch claim to have first invented the game way back in the 13th century, using nothing more than sticks and a ball, but Scotland lays claim to the modern version we know today.
The Old Course at St Andrews Links in Fife, Scotland, is the oldest golf course in the world, with documentary evidence proving it existed as far back as 1552. The celebrated course is often referred to as ‘The Home of Golf’ and is regarded as one of the toughest tests a golfer can face.
The sport not only has one of the highest participation figures in the world, but it is also one of the most watched sports on TV. A 2019 study by the R and A, revealed there were 38,864 golf courses around the world, with the USA boasting 48% of them.
The Popularity of Golf
There are multiple reasons that help explain golfs rise from such humble beginnings. Fresh air, exercise, beautiful scenery, and the social aspect of the game, are all key reasons people take up the sport.
However, the advent of television is what fully brought it into the public conscience. The first National U.S. Broadcast was the 1953 World Championship of Golf, and the sport has never looked back, with both the men’s and women’s game going from strength to strength.
Today’s top male golfers are household names, with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Tiger Woods, and Justin Thomas, amongst some of the most famous and richest sportsmen in the world. While Lydia Ko, Charley Hull, Nelly Korda, and Brooke Henderson, are some of the most successful female golfers currently on tour.
The ultimate prize for any golfer is to win a major and cement their name in golfing history. There are four majors played every calendar year, and they are the most prestigious tournaments a golfer can win. They are:
- The Masters
- The Open
- US Open
- PGA Championship
The Masters is played in April and is unique in that it is always held at the same venue, Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. The winner of the Masters receives a highly coveted Green Jacket which grants them honorary membership into the club and lifetime exemption to play in the tournament.
The legendary Jack Nicklaus holds the record for the most victories at the Masters with six, while Tiger Woods is next on five. According to the latest Masters odds this year’s event looks even closer than ever before, with Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson, just some of the top names in contention.
The PGA Championship is held in the USA, however unlike the Masters, the course changes every year. The first tournament was held in 1916, with the winner taking home the Wanamaker Trophy.
Jack Nicklaus holds the record for most PGA Championship victories with five, followed by Tiger Woods on four.
The United States Open Championship is also held at various courses around the country. The first ever tournament was held way back in 1895.
The event has a field of 156 players and is open to any professional or suitably handicapped amateur, although they must survive several rounds of open qualification in order to get a spot.
The winner of the tournament receives the silver sterling US Open trophy. Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus hold the record for the most US Open wins with four each.
The final major of the year is the only major held outside of the USA. The Open or British Open is the oldest golf tournament in the world and was first played in 1860.
The winner of receives the coveted Claret Jug and named the ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’. Harry Vardon has the most wins with six, while James Braid, JH Taylor, Tom Watson and Peter Thomson all have five.
Advice for beginners
Golf is great game that everyone can enjoy, but it can be intimidating if you’ve never played it before. Here’s our quick guide to getting started.
- To get started, get in touch with your local golf club and they will give you advice on lessons and where best to start your journey.
- Get lessons from a registered professional coach.
- Group lessons are a great way to meet other beginners, make new friends and they’re cheaper than individual sessions.
- Head to the driving range and get practicing. Even Tiger Woods has to practice.
- Putting. It might look easy but putting requires as much practice as your golf swing.
- Learn the basic golfing etiquette and rules before your first round.
- Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so don’t be put off by a bad shot. Even the very best in the world hit it out of bounds every now and again.
- Yes, it’s nerve wracking standing on the tee when everybody else is watching, but everyone has been where you are, and waiting golfers are far more worried about their own upcoming shot!
- Don’t give up!
Golf is a great game enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. It’s fun, keeps you fit and gets you outdoors and making new friends. Why not give it a go?