Golf is one of those sports that has been around for so long that its exact origins have been lost through the ages. However, most agree that the modern form of golf that we know today comes from Scotland in the Middle Ages.
There is some evidence that suggests that games very similar to golf existed in the late 13th Century, but the game that today’s golf is based on can be traced back to the 16th Century. Interestingly, all of the world’s oldest golf courses are located in Scotland and all of them are still operational. Let’s take a closer look at them below.
Fortrose & Rosemarkie
While there is evidence proving that golf was played in Scotland since the 15th Century, the earliest mention of the sport being played in the country dates back to what is now known as Fortrose in 1702. It became so popular in the region that by 1793, the Fortrose Golf Society was formed. The original course only had six holes but was expanded to 18 holes in 1924.
The golf course has a long history, but perhaps its most notable period was in September 1940, when Fortrose & Rosemarkie’s course and clubhouse were both commissioned by British military authorities as a training ground. There, sea landing tactics were practiced in preparation for the D-Day landings.
Elie and Earlsferry Links
It is believed that golf has been played at Elie and Earlsferry Links since 1589 when a passing royal charter granted villagers permission to use the land. However, the earliest records date the official course layout to 1770, and in these records, mention of both a short course and a long one is made. Then, in 1812, local farmers began to protest the use of the land for golfing, as they wanted to be able to grow crops on it. It took a total of 20 years for golfers to fully secure the rights to the land, and this has been upheld ever since.
Montrose Golf Links
Montrose Golf Links dates back to at least 1562. James Melville, a notable student at St Andrews University, is believed to have been taught how to play golf there by Reverend William Gray. The current course at Montrose Links features part of the original grounds and was designed by Harry Colt. In around the mid-19th Century, Montrose Links had grown to 25 holes, making it the biggest in the world at the time. To date, it has remained largely unchanged since 1913.
The Old Course At St Andrews
The oldest golf course in the world is The Old Course at St Andrews. It dates back to 1552 and is known as the “Home of Golf”. The course remained off limits when golf was banned by James II in 1457, and while golf could be played again in 1502, when James IV started to take interest in the sport, The Old Course remained shut to the public until 1552. Because of its age, the course has been redesigned several times and today, it’s as cutting edge as the 2022 World Cup odds on offer online.