Whether you regard golf as the epitome of Zen mind or, as Mark Twain put it, “a good walk spoiled,” you’ve probably wondered where and how such a peculiar pastime originated. Who would devise a sport that “consists of putting little balls into little holes with instruments very ill adapted to [the] purpose,” as one Oxford tutor noted? And furthermore, who thought that an expanse of hummocky, pitted grassland would make an ideal setting for it?
The Scots, that’s who.
Actually, the origins of golf are not quite that cut-and-dried. You might be surprised at who lays claim to the sport’s origin. You might also be astounded at the long history of women and minorities on the links, and some of the historic traditions and great players that have made the game what it is today.