The History of Golf in America

If you are serious about golf, then you owe it to yourself to learn about its rich history. Almost all modern sports have origins that can go as far back as thousands of years – the history of golf is indeed no different. Up to this day, the very history of golf is still unclear and is always up for debate.

Today, we’re going to highlight some of the most critical events in the history of golf in America, as well as the people who pioneered in this sport.

The Birth of Golf

Modern golf has originated from the eastern coast of Scotland in the Kingdom of Fife during the 15th century. This event is a very early incarnation of golf where players would hit a stone over a sand course. Rabbits use a primitive club or stick to track.

During the 15th century, while Scotland was preparing to defend itself from an invasion of the Auld Army, King James II of the Scottish parliament has banned the sport in 1457. This is because many people would neglect their military training so that they could play the game. Many people have ignored the ban, and it was only in 1502 that King James IV of Scotland (1473 -1513) has granted the royal seal of approval to the sport. He became the very first golfing monarch.

Golf became an official sport in 1744 when the Gentleman Golfers of Leith formed the first golf club and arranged a yearly tournament. Duncan Forbes is the creator of the rules for this tournament. One of the original 13 rules are as follows (this should sound familiar to most golfers out there):

If your Ball comes among water or any watery filth, you are at liberty to take out your Ball & bringing it behind the hazard and Teeing it; you may play it with any Club and allow your Adversary a Stroke for so getting out your Ball.

Golf Comes to America

The history of golf in America goes back to 1657, thanks to the arrest of a pair of drunk gentlemen who took part in an incident involving a ball in Albany, New York. However, it won’t be until 1743 (a year before the formation of Company of Gentleman Golfers) that there was a shipping record of 432 golf balls and 96 golf clubs delivered to a Mr. David Deas in Charleston, South Carolina. Leith Scotland sent the shipping order. There are also rumors of the formation of an association in Savannah, Georgia around the same time.

The formation of the first permanent golf club was in 1888 in Yonkers, New York. It was the royal and ancient St. Andrews Golf Club. The founder was the transplanted Scotsman, Mr. Johnny Reid, along with the collective nicknamed “Apple Tree Gang.” Reid and his friends were big enthusiasts of the game. According to records, they played in a 3-hole golf course that started and ended near the landmark of a large apple tree. Many consider Johnny Reid to be the father of American Golf.

The Other Father in the History of Golf in America

Many people will insist that Charles Blair Macdonald is the one who deserves the honors of being the Father of American Golf. He is a golf enthusiast,  a golf course architect, and a writer. The Golf Journal considers Macdonald as the “True Pioneer of American Golf.” He’s the man responsible for the creation of the pivotal Chicago Golf Club, the very first 18-hole golf course in America.

In 1982, Charles Blair Macdonald persuaded 30 Chicago business associates to contribute $10 (a princely sum at the time) for the development of a 9-hole golf course. This particular course will eventually become the Downers Grove Golf Course.

History of Golf in America
Charles Blair Macdonald. [Image source: Wikimedia Commons]

The USGA

The United States Golf Association or USGA was founded on December 22, 1894. Formerly called the Amateur Golf Association of the United States, the organization was founded after Macdonald finished second in two national amateur championship event. In 1895, Macdonald was able to win his first championship which happens to be USGA’s first official tournament. A day later, Horace Thomas Rawlins won the very first U.S. Open Championship. He outplayed ten other athletes for the $150 championship prize.

Also in 1895, Lucy Barnes won the very first U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, an essential event in the history of golf in America.

Birth of the PGA

The PGA or the American Professional Golfers Association was founded in 1916 by Rodman Wanamaker, a department store owner. Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the PGA is made up of over 28,000 professional golfers. In October 1916, the PGA held its very first championship tournament and had prize money of $2,580. Wanamaker is responsible for donating a trophy for the competition which will eventually be named in his honor.

The Rest is History

Thus, golf went on its way to become one of the most prestigious recreational sports in America. If you want more information about our sport, check out AtTheTee for a wealth of golfing information especially regarding courses.

Knowing the history of golf in America is good, you may want to know now what a perfect golf swing looks like by studying the well-known players and their historical playing styles. You can use this information to help refine and improve your golf game.)

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