written by Jack Daly, member of SOLO Golf retail staff
I was always curious to learn more about golf's origin, and I think it only makes sense that we start from the beginning of the game. Everyone knows that the game originated in England, but not many know about the atmosphere surrounding it, which is far different from what it is now. While the popular narrative has been that golf was created as an exclusive game for the royals, there is evidence that suggests otherwise.
In the 16th century, when the first rules of the game were written, golf was played on public land in a very informal setting. Anyone who could get access to some clubs would head out and have a blast without the worry of following the rules we have now. I imagine golf was as addicting then as it is now considering King James ll banned golf for a short period to keep citizens focused on their military and civilian duties. However, golf slowly became acceptable as King James IV took up golf as well as other monarchs. When I did more research on this I learned that the word caddie actually derives from the word cadets, who were the military aides of Mary Queen of Scots. These caddies would carry the clubs of royals with no golf bag. Initially, these caddies were young boys, and they would help, similar to the way caddies help carry bags without the assistance of reading putts which caddies do now.
Golf eventually spread to different parts of the world with the advent of the industrial revolution from the mid 18th century to the early 19th century. This is because golf became even more accessible to the average joe, considering the amount of materials and skills it took to make the equipment. Up until then, golf balls were made from compressed feathers inside horsehide. This increased efficiency and production reduced golf equipment prices, which was the main barrier to entry for most people. The increase in transportation also meant that people could travel farther and explore new golf courses, which only increased the game's growth.
Around this time in the 19th century, courses began springing up across Great Britain, Ireland, and the rest of Europe. However, there was a delay to the game's arrival in the United States. After the War of 1812, there were enormous tensions between the U.S. and the British. Golf was seen as an English game; therefore un-American and U.S. citizens wanted nothing to do with it. Tensions eventually cooled and golf became more popular in America. Clubs such as Oakhurst Links, Dorset Field Club, Foxburg Country Club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Downers Grove Golf Club, The Country Club, Newport Country Club, Chicago Golf Club, and Saint Andrews Golf Club. These clubs remain as some of the most highly sought after venues for major championships, as we saw with Shinnecock in 2018.
- Jack @SOLOGolfCo