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Who Invented Golf? An Overview of the Various Claims

Medha Godbole May 12, 2019
If you are a passionate golfer, you probably would like to know more about the origin and history of your favorite pastime. Read on to find out who was responsible for the invention of golf.
Golf, as we know, is a thorough gentleman's game, and a game of the high and mighty. It has a very interesting history.

Some Claims

South Asians, Scots, Dutch, and Brits have laid strong claims that golf originated there. Amongst Asians, it is China and Laos who are the most vociferous about their claims, and amongst other European countries, France and Belgium have also thrown their hat in the ring.
All these countries are believed to have had games involving hitting an object at a target. Now this does not necessarily mean golf. The interesting part in this is that Holland gets the credit for the name of the game, but apparently it was not the place where the modern version of golf was played first.

Golf, Colf, and Holland

In the thirteenth century CE, a game called Colf used to be played in Holland. It has been tracked back to 1297, in a town called Loenen aan de Vecht. This is a proof that Colf was pretty well-established by then. The name 'golf' seems to be a Scottish alteration of the Dutch 'colf'.

The Brits Argue

One of the earliest proofs of golf being played are believed to go back to the 1340s. There, in a sketch from a stained glass window in the east window of the Gloucester Cathedral, England, were scenes from the Battle of Crecy. This sketch showed a man supposedly preparing to strike a ball in a stance similar to golf.

The Scot Trot

The country which is most commonly considered the first country to get all the modern aspects of the game together is Scotland. The Scots invented golf around the 15th century. It was a long time before the form of golf as we know it today, came about. That was in the year 1750.
The rules of the game were standardized and formalized much later, in 1774, by golfers in the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Invention of Golf Equipment

Now that we know about the invention of the activity itself, let's take a sneak peek into the origins of common golf equipment. The first ever golf clubs were made by a bow-maker working for King James IV of Scotland. The construction of these clubs was time-consuming and expensive, making it an expensive activity to indulge in.
Golf balls went through a lot of transitions. Adam Paterson came up with a gutta-percha ball, made from Gutta tree sap. Balls with a rubber core, made by Coburn Haskell, followed; they could travel 400 yards or more.
Golfers slowly noticed that worn out balls worked better. The first version of the dimpled ball used today was introduced by William Taylor in the early 20th century.
Whatever the claims by various other countries, the widely accepted fact is that the Scots are the ones who should get the credit!