There is consensus that people in Scotland were the earliest golf enthusiasts, but little is known about who actually invented the sport. There are suggestions that bored shepherds who tended flocks of sheep clos to St. Andrews became skillful at hitting stones into rabbit holes using their wooden crooks.
But we know for sure that it has been around for at least 5 centuries years – James II of Scotland, had football and golf banned, in a March 6, 1457, Act of Parliament, because they were a distraction. These sports interfered too much with war preparations badly needed by the defenders of the Scottish territory.
The ban was again introduced in 1470 and 1491, but this didn’t dampen the spirits of its citizens to play golf. The Scots ignored the ban and the popularity of this sport continued to flourish. Scotland is the home of the world’s oldest golf course, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews, which was founded in 1754.
Many forms of games that resembled golf were played in the 14th century by sportsmen in Belgium, France, and Holland, and also in Scotland. For many years they played the game on rough terrain that lacked proper greens, just unpolished holes carved into the ground where the surface was flat.
Also, the Early Romans played a game similar to golf by hitting a feather-stuffed ball using club-like tree branches. Many art and history books also show pictures of the Dutch playing a golf-like game on their frozen canals in the 16th century. By the 1600s, the sport became very established in Great Britain when James VI of Scotland, later to become James I of England, began to play the game
During the 19th century, the “gutty” or the gutta-percha ball was used as replacement to the feather-stuffed golf ball that had been in use for centuries. The 1st British Open was played in 1860 at Prestwick, Scotland. It was opened to professionals and amateurs alike the next year.