Golf timeline and milestones

A journey through the golf timeline

Here you will find a golf timeline – a record of the major golfing milestones that have occurred since written golf records began. 

When did golf begin? Where did it start? How did it evolve? Who were the golfing pioneers? Where and when were the first golf clubs formed?

You will find the answers here.

You can find more details of the events that are listed in The History of Golf.   

Painting of a Girl with a Golf Club, 1595

By unknown Netherlands artist

Reproduced from the book “A Golfer’s Gallery of Old Masters”, by Bernard Darwin

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14th Century golf timeline and milestones


The stained-glass window of Gloucester Cathedral depicts a man swinging a club at a ball. The window was commissioned  by Sir Thomas Broadstone to commemorate his colleagues who fell at Crecy. 


Reference to chole, a Flemish cross-country game, which consisted of hitting a ball with a club towards a fixed mark, such as a door, or gate.

15th Century golf timeline and milestones


The first of three dates when “gouf” was banned in Scotland by Act of Parliament. It followed football which had been banned in 1424 by King James I of Scotland.


The second such enactment, this time by King James III.


The third enactment, by King James IV.

A Golf Timeline

Find out more about the origins of golf

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16th Century golf timeline and milestones


King James IV buys clubs and balls from a bow-maker in Perth.


James IV revoked the long standing ban on the playing of golf, mainly because the threat of war with England had receded. 


James IV plays golf with the Earl of Bothwell.


James IV purchases a dozen balls to play at Royal Park in Stirling.


Sir Robert Maule was the first mention of a person playing golf; other than James IV and the Earl of Bothwell. He was reported as playing golf at Barry Links, which is near to modern Carnoustie. He was the first commoner reported a splaying golf. 


The Archbishop of St Andrews confirms the right of the community to play golf over the St Andrews links. 


James Melville recorded as playing golf at the age of six at Montrose. 


Mary Queen of Scots criticised for playing golf at Seton Hall, Musselburgh, within two weeks of her husband Darnley’s death. 


James Melville recorded as playing golf at St Andrews where he was now a student.


Playing of golf forbidden in the Blackfriars Yard, Glasgow.


A proclamation against the playing of golf at Leith links on a Sunday during the time of the “sermons”.

A Golf Timeline

Find out more about the first golf courses in Scotland

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17th Century golf timeline and milestones


Man injured playing golf on the links at Ayr. .


The Prince of Wales, King James VI son, plays golf in the grounds of Greenwich Palace.


The Earl of Sutherland buys “golffe clubbes and balls” to play golf at Dornoch.


The first mention of the feathery ball. A monopoly of sale was granted to James Melvill, each ball costing fourpence. 


Painting by Paul Bril, “Landscape with Men Playing Mail à la Chicane”, a type of Chole.


The first ever reference to a golf hole at Aberdeen when a local record discusses some military exercises “in the principal parts of the links betwixt the first hole and the Quenis hole.” 


Record of the payment of four shillings by the Marquis of Montrose to “the boy who carried my clubs”, the first reference to a caddie. 


Dornoch is described by Sir Robert Gordon in glowing terms – “doe surpass the fields of Montrose or St Andrews. 


News of the Irish rebellion conveyed to King Charles while he played golf at Leith. 


A golf-ball maker licensed by the Council of Aberdeen. 


Kolf depicted by Dutch painter Adriaen van de Velde,  “Golfers on the Ice near Haarlem”


Kolf depicted by Dutch painter Aert van der Neer,  “A winter landscape with skaters and kolf players on a frozen river”


The first International match. The Duke of York and a shoemaker defeating two English Noblemen at Leith.

A Golf Timeline

Find out more about the age of the feathery golf ball

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18th Century golf timeline and milestones


Golf played on Glasgow Green.. .


Large crowds are reported for a match at Leith. The match was between Alexander Elphinstone and Captain John Porteous. The stake was 20 guineas and was watched by the Duke of Hamilton and Earl of Morton. .


The first known minutes of a golf club, The Royal Burgess Golf Society..


A consignment of 96 clubs and 432 balls being shipped from the Scottish port of Leith to Charleston, South Carolina.


The first golf competition of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. John Rattray won the prize of a silver club, which was presented by the City of Edinburgh. He then became Captain of the club and therefore the first known Golf Club Captain. 

This was also the first time that the Rules of Golf were drawn up.


The founding of St Andrews Club, later to be The Royal and Ancient.

Twenty two “Noblemen and Gentlemen, being admirers of the ancient and healthful exercise of the Golf” banded together to present a silver golf club to be played for annually over the St Andrews links.

This was won by Bailie William Landale. 


The first mention of strokeplay. Previouly all golf consisted of matches. 


A round at St Andrews reduced to 18 holes, rather than the original 22 holes.


A silver driver donated for competition at Blackheath.


Golf played in New York by Scottish officers during the American Revolutionary War..


The formation of Royal Aberdeen Golf club.


The founding of Crail Golfing Society.


A golf club formed at Charleston, South Carolina. 


The Bruntsfield Links golfers formed into a club. . 


Burntisland Golf Club formed.. 


William Inglis, c1712 – 1792. Surgeon and Captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, painted by artist David Allan.


19th Century golf timeline and milestones


The first mention of a competition for ladies, for fishwives at Musselburgh.


The Old Manchester Club formed at Kersall Moor. 


Perth Golfing Society formed. 


Calcutta Golf club formed in India, later to become Royal Calcutta. 


North Berwick golf club formed.


The Perth Golfing Society became Royal Perth by King William IV and thus became the first Royal golf club. 


William IV grants the Royal & Ancient Golf Club its Royal title. 


The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers moves from Leith to Musselburgh. 


The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers moves from Leith to Musselburgh. 


Bombay Golfing Society formed, later to become Royal Bombay. 


‘The Golfers’, oil on canvas, painted by Charles Lees


The introduction of the gutta-percha golf ball, affectionately known as the “gutty”, and which was to revolutionise the game. 


Prestwick Golf Club founded


Royal Curragh Golf Club founded in Kildare, the oldest golf club in Ireland. 

Pau Golf Club, France, formed, thus becoming the first golf club on continental Europe. 


The Golfers Manual, by H B Fernie, published – the first book of golf instruction.


The first Open Championship was held at Prestwick and won by Willie Park. This was only open to professionals but a year later, in 1861, was open to “all the world”.


The Royal Devon Club founded at Westward Ho!. This was the first links course in England.


The London Scottish Golf Club founded at Wimbledon, London. 


The first Ladies club opened at St Andrews. 


Royal Liverpool Golf Club formed at Hoylake.

Alnmouth Golf Club formed in Northumberland. 


Otago Golf Club formed in New Zealand. This was merged with Dunedin Golf Club in 1892. A Year later Christchurch Golf Club was formed, also in New Zealand. Both clubs have since disappeared. 

A Golf Timeline

Find out more about the earliest golf courses outside of Scotland

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A Golf Timeline

Find out more about the significant impact of the gutta-percha golf ball

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A Golf Timeline

Find out more about the first golf professionals

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The Claret Jug first awarded for the Open Champion. This followed Young Tom Morris winning the original belt outright. The Claret Jug was donated by the Prestwick and St Andrews Golf Clubs. It was won by Young Tom Morris.

Royal Adelaide founded in Australia


Royal Montreal Golf club formed in Canada. 


The Durham and Yorkshire Golf Club formed, later to be called Seaton Carew Golf Club. 


The Oxford and Cambridge University Golf Clubs formed. 


The first “Varsity” golf match between Oxford and Cambridge universities. This is the oldest inter-club match in the world.


The Tennant Cup first played for. It was initiated by the Glasgow Club and is the oldest surviving open competition for amateur golfers.  


Royal Belfast Golf Cub formed. 


Oakhurst Golf Club formed in Sulphur Springs, Virginia, United States, but it did not survive. 


The Royal Cape Golf Club founded, the first golf club in South Africa. 

The first Amateur Championship held at Hoylake, England, the oldest amateur championship in the world. 

Royal Dublin Golf Club founded, the second oldest golf club in Ireland.

Borth & Ynyslas Golf Club founded, with claims to be the oldest golf club in Wales.

Hesketh Golf Club, Southport, formed


St Andrew’s Golf Club founded at Yonkers New York, by John Reid, who thereafter became known as the father of golf in the United States. 

Royal Antwerp, the first golf club in Belgium, founded. 

Perak, the first course Malaysia, formed. 


Royal Hong Kong Golf Club formed.


Royal Bangkok Golf Club, Thailand, formed. 

York Golf Club, England formed. 


Shinnecock Hills Golf Club founded on Long Island, New York. Its clubhouse is the oldest surviving clubhouse in the United States. 

Las Palmas Golf Club, Canary Islands, formed. 

Gothenburg Golf Club, Sweden, formed.


The first Indian Amateur championship held, thereby becoming the oldest Amateur Championship in the world outside of the Amateur Championship. 

Lomas Golf Club formed, Argentina. 


Formation of the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) in Britain.

The first British Ladies Championship.

The first New Zealand Championship.


The Open Championship played in England for the first time and won by J H Taylor, the first English professional to win the Championship. 

The United States Golf Association (USGA) formed. 

The first Australian Men’s Amateur Championship held. 

The first Australian Ladies Championship held. 

The first Malaysian Amateur Championship held.


The first United States Amateur Championship held and the first United States Open Championship held, both held at Newport Golf Club, Rhode Island. 

The first Canadian Amateur Championship held. 

Bulawayo Golf Club, Rhodesia, formed. 

The first two courses in Germany formed at Bad Homburg and Baden-Baden. 

The first Argentinian Amateur Championship held.


The first golf course opened in Mexico, at Puebla. 


Copenhagen Golf Club, Denmark, formed.


















A Golf Timeline

Find out more about the advent of golf in the United States

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20th Century golf timeline and milestones


The first golf course in Japan formed at Mount Rokko. 

The Haskell rubber cored golf ball introduced, which would further revolutionise golf, after the introduction of the gutty in 1848. 

The British Professional Golfers Association formed, the first such association in the world. 

The first course established in Austria at Wien-Krieau. 


The first amateur golf match between England and Scotland. 


The Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society toured the United States, the first overseas golf tour ever undertaken. 


The first French Amateur Championship held at La Boulie. 

The first golf course built in Czechoslovakia at Karlovy Vary. 

The first Australian Open Championship held. 

The first Canadian Open Championship held.


The first international golf match between Britain and the United States. The British Ladies defeated the US Ladies 6-1 at Cromer, England. 


The first French Open Championship held at La Boulie.


Arnaud Massey became the first overseas winner of the Open Championship. 

The first Swiss Men’s and Ladies Open Amateur Championships held. 

The first New Zealand Open Championship held.


The first Austrian Amateur Championship held. 


Francis Ouimet, defeated Harry Varden and Ted Ray in a play-off to win the US Open at the Country Club, Brookline, Boston, to kick-start US dominance of their own Open Championship. 


The United States Professional Golfers Association (USPGA) formed. 

The first USGA Championship held. 


The first golf course in Columbia formed, at Bogota. 


The R&A take over the management of the Open and Amateur Championships. 

Taiwan golf and Country Club formed.


The standardisation of the dimensions and weight of the golf ball jointly decreed by the R&A and USGA. 

The first Amateur International match between Britain and the United States held at Hoylake, with the US winning 9-3.


The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, became Captain of the Rpyal and Ancient Golf Club. 

The Walker Cup matches started between the amateurs of Great Britain & Ireland and the United States. 


Steel shafts legalised in the United States. 


The first professional international match played between the United States and Great Britain & Ireland. GB & I won 13½ to 1½  


The Ryder Cup matches started between the United States and Great Britain & Ireland. This was held at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts and was won by United States 9½ to 2½ 


Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam of British and United States Amateur and Open Championships in a single calendar year, a feat never before or since emulated. He immediately retired from championship golf at the age of 28. 

Steel shafts legalised in Britain. 

The Duke of York, later King George VI, became Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. 


The Curtis Cup matches started at Wentworth, England. The US ladies defeated the British Ladies 5½ to 3½  

Gene Sarazen popularises the modern sand wedge 


The first US Masters held at Augusta, Georgia. 


The European Golf Association founded. 

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Find out more about how the rubber-cored Haskell ball created an explosion in the poularity of golf around the whole world

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Francis Ouimet became the first US Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.


The Asian Golf Confederation formed.


The Women’s World Amateur Team Championship first held in Paris for the Espirito Santa Trophy. 


A women’s team from continental Europe defeated a United States team 10½ to 7½ 

Introduction of the first two-piece golf ball. 

The US PGA Tour formed, breaking away from the PGA of America. 


The first graphite shafts developed. 


Tony Jacklin becomes the first Britain to win the US Open for 50 years, having won the Open Championship the previous year.


The first golf shot on the Moon by Captain Alan Shephard of the Appolo 14 spacecraft. The two balls that he used were presented to the USGA Museum in 1974. 

The Royal and ancient Golf Club sent Alan Shephard a congratulatory telegram which contained a reminder of the etiquette of golf,  which read “……..before leaving a bunker, a player should carefully fill up all holes made by him therein.”  


The PGA European Tour formed consisting of 15 countries


The World Golf Hall of Fame founded at Pinehurst, North Carolina. 

The Tournament Player Championship first played in The United States. 


Severiano Ballesteros, of Spain, wins the Open Championship to end US dominance of the Open.


Severiano Ballesteros wins the US Masters to end US dominance of the Masters. 

Golf rapidly becoming a worldwide sport. 


The World Golf Ranking System initiated. This enables the top professional’s performance to be ranked, even when they are playing on different tours around the world, and thereby makes automatic qualification for the four major championships easier to establish. 


Soft spikes on golf shows introduced for the first time. 


The Presidents Cup first played between the United States and the Rest of The World.  


Titanium-steel shafts introduced for the first time.


21st Century golf timeline and milestones


Great Britain and Ireland win the Ryder Cup for the seventh time out of nine, reversing the US domination of the early years.  

Golf played by 66 million people worldwide including 26.7 million from the United States. 

Worldwide golf equipment sales $14.5 billion per year. 

Worldwide golf tourism sales $17 billion per year. 

TaylorMade-Adidas Golf company sales exceed $2 billion for the year. 


China has 600 golf courses, more than Scotland, the home of golf. 

Tiger Woods career earnings on the USPGA Tour exceed $109 million. This compares with Jack Nicklaus whose career earnings were only $5.7 million.  

Despite winning more majors with 18 to his name against Tigers 14, Jack Nicklaus’ last major victory was the Masters in 1986, which illustrates how much more money there is to be won today than there was then. 

Jack Nicklaus also has 46 top three finishes in majors to Tiger’s 24.

It is only fitting that we conclude this golf timeline with this tribute to Jack Nicklaus, for a playing record that may never be broken.

Only time will tell.

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