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What is the history of golf?

While many know the modern game as a Scottish invention, the earliest recorded match took place in the Netherlands in 1297. This version was similar in that player tried to hit a leather ball near a target far away, and in the least amount of strokes. Over the next 200 years, the game popped up throughout Europe. The tradition we know today was first documented in 1497 when King James II issued a ban on both golf and soccer.

Popularity exploded in the mid-1800s after a railway from England to Scotland allowed tourists to experience it in person. Around the same time, a new ball called the "Gutty" became cheaper and easier to mass-produce. By the end of the 19th century, the sport had spread across the world.

Golf at the Olympic Games

Golf appeared in the 1900 and 1904 Summer Games but disappeared for over one hundred years with competition resuming in 2016. The initial run included men's and women's individual matches in 1900, but the women's competition didn't return in 1904 with a men's team event taking its place.

The Olympic Committee planned to host a men's tournament in the 1908 London Games, but there was a dispute with some of the British golfers, who decided to boycott. The only remaining competitor was the previous gold medalist George Lyons, who won again by default and refused.

While the International Golf Federation is the recognized International Federation with the Olympic and Paralympic Movement for golf in the Olympics, the actual governing body of the sport is The R&A was founded in 2004 and engages in and supports activities undertaken for the benefit of the sport of golf. Despite deriving its name from the members’ golf club, The R&A is separate and distinct from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

What are the current Olympic golf events?

The 2016 Games saw the return of men's and women's individual tournaments. To qualify, players must have a world ranking in the top 15; after that, the top two players from each country can also compete.

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