Did you know that the first recorded history of golf is the mention of it banned? According to Scottish Golf History, King James II banned “ye golf” because he thought it took away from archery practice. Ironically enough, in years to come, the first clubs were crafted by bow makers. The first ban, as documented, was seen in Edinburgh on March 6, 1457.

The bans continued through known documentation by successive Kings in 1471 and 1491. These bans seemingly were on a form of targeted golf played in the streets or churchyards. Link golf, as it is today, may have still been taking place. 

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The Origin of the Word Golf

Golf, by any name, is still golf. There are golf records written as goff, gowf, golf, goif, goiff, gof, gowfe, gouff, and golve.

Is golf a Scottish term? Some would say yes. The Scots word ‘golf’, ‘golfand,’ and ‘golfing’ means ‘to strike’ as in ‘to cuff’ or ‘to drive forward with violence.’ 

Golf, as we know it, is finally found in documented dictionaries in the eighteenth century. 

scottish golf history

Scottish Golf Locations, from the Beginning

Britain Magazine points out that underneath the crest of Scotland’s world-famous St. Andrews Links golf course, you will find four plain words: ‘the home of golf’. By 1754  The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A),  housed at St. Andrews, is established and undoubtedly holds a prominent place in Scottish golf history. There were a few more that came before in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. 

By the early sixteenth century, the ban on golf lifted. Here is a list from Scottish Golf History of the first sites and societies:

1502 Perth – The Royal Golfer

1504 Falkland Palace – The Courtier Golfer

1506 Stirling Castle – The Royal Golfer (again)

1527 Carnoustie – The Links Golfer

1562 Montrose – The Schoolboy Golfer

1574 St Andrews – The Student Golfer

1585 Orkney – The Servitor Golfer

1606 Richmond – The Prince Golfer

1608 Kinghorn – The Miscreant Golfers

1616 Dunbar – More Miscreant Golfers

1617 Fraserburgh – Yet More Miscreant Golfers

1619 Leith Links – The Bishop Golfer

1619 Dornoch – The Young Earl Golfer

1624 Royston – First Englishman Golfer

1625 Aberdeen – The Schoolmaster Golfer

1650 Gullane – The Weaver Golfers

1672 Musselburgh – The Lawyer Golfer

1672 North Berwick – The Law Lord Golfer

1672 Elgin and Forres – The MP Golfer

1695 Bruntsfield Links – The First Clubmistress

1702 Fortrose – The Farmer Golfer

1721 Glasgow Green – The Non-Playing Partner

1738 Rome Villa Borghese – Bonnie Prince Charlie

scottish golf history

The Rise of Golf

Golf clubs and societies started to form in the mid-eighteenth century. Besides being social, they also played a crucial role in the development and standardization of the game. According to Britain Magazine, these were responsible for creating rules and regulations for the game, which many still hold today. 

  • The first 13 rules of golf, drafted in 1744 by The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
  • March 7, 1744  – the world’s oldest golf club opens and hosts the silver golf club, presented by the City of Edinburgh. 
  • On May 14, 1754, twenty-two “Noblemen and Gentlemen” formed the Society of St. Andrews Golfers. Twenty years later, Twenty years later, it was renamed Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
  • In 1860 the first Open Championship occurred at Prestwick played by eight professionals. 
  • The ‘dogleg” and sharp angles attributed to Tom Morris. He holds the British Open record for the oldest champion (46) in 1867 and the most significant margin of victory, 13 shots.
  • James Braid also was essential to the formation of golf. Braid promoted aluminum-headed putters and was dominant in British golf in the early part of the twentieth century.

When Did Women Join the Game?

We first see women in reference to golf in 1738 at Bruntsfield and 1811 in link golf at Musselburgh. At the end of the nineteenth century, women’s golf took off with their clubs and society. The first known women’s golf clubs were made in 1820-1823 by Isobel Denholm.

Highlights of the Forming of Women’s Golf

Formation of the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) in 1893, which is significant for

  • The first recorded U.K. golfing association
  • Creation of a standard national handicapping system, which the men’s associations subsequently adopted

Golf – Always Known for its Fashion

What image comes to mind when you think of old-time golf? I bet it is pants and hats. Payne Stewart epitomized that look in modern-day golf. The British Golf Museum tells us back in the eighteenth century, golfers had their own style to get recognized in society. Clubs back then and still today, have rules on fashion.

While modern golfers do not need to don coats, a collared shirt and long pants are often required. Our Tartan Trousers will give you that sophisticated and fun look! Round out the look with one of our many golf hats, particularly the OUTLANDER Golf Cap Authentic Premium Wool Tartan.

 And as we know, golfers like to be in proper “spirits” while out on the course. Our flasks are a perfect tuck in for your pocket or bag! 

scottish golf history

The International Golf Federation (IGF)

The IGF was founded in 1958. Representatives from 35 countries gather in Washington, D.C., hosted by the USGA and the R&A, to establish the World Amateur Golf Council, so that it may conduct the World Amateur Team Championship. 

In 2003 it was renamed The International Golf Federation. The IGF was mainly established due to the overabundance of invitations the USGA received to compete in international matches.

In October of 1958, the first Championship was hosted by the R&A on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland. The Eisenhower Trophy was awarded to the Australian team. The trophy’s inscription, “To foster friendship and sportsmanship among the Peoples of the World,” is the Council’s guiding manifesto. 


The history of golf is vital to the Scottish culture. It is a source of great pride. The fashions, St. Andrews, and the respect for the game are ingrained into the Scottish. And to think that at one time, golf was banned. Leave it to the Scots to have won that battle! 

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