Golf-like games have been recorded as taking place as far back as 1297, but modern-day golf as we know it is generally considered as a Scottish invention. Ironically, the game was banned for a while under James II- the reason being it was taking too many people away from playing Archery, another sport that features in our Olympic series! The course at St Andrews in Scotland dates to 1574 and is widely considered as the home of golf.
The game boomed in popularity by the 1800s, with Queen Victoria’s building of Balmoral Castle resulting in a train route created between London and Edinburgh. This led to more of the UK discovering golf, with the first organised Open Championship taking place in Prestwick, Scotland in 1860. By the 1900s, there were over 1000 golf courses dotted around the British Isles.
At professional and amateur level, golf courses are formed of 18 holes, each with their own level of distance and difficulty to the hole. The word ‘par’ is used to measure how many shots a ‘skilled’ golfer should take to get the golf ball into the hole. Shots completed under par are names of birds, with a birdie meaning one shot under, an eagle two shots under, and an albatross three shots under. Unless you’re a professional, you’re extremely unlikely to complete the hole in this astonishingly low number of shots. Amateurs tend to play from handicaps, which measure the total amount of shots over the par of the course.
Many different forms of the game have emerged, with people taking time out from the hustle and bustle to go on dedicated golf holidays. Pitch and putt is a smaller course designed to test precision. Adventure golf is a great family day out, with themed courses and trick shots helping you complete the course. And, we can’t forget the classic crazy golf, a favourite of the seaside.
Golf is a strange case at the Olympics. Having appeared at the 1904 and 1908 games, it was over 100 years before it returned to the calendar in 2016. The Olympics give golfers a rare chance to compete for their country rather than as individuals, with a gold medal unparalleled in regular golf tournaments.
Historically, the UK, Ireland and USA were dominant both at professional level and with the amount of people playing the sport casually. As the years have gone on, the game has become more and more international, with a maximum of four golfers per country allowed to compete at the Olympics. There are two events in total, one for men and one for women.
Justin Rose became the first Olympic men’s golf champion for a century with his gold medal at Rio 2016. With male British golfers continuing to impress on the professional PGA and European tours, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see us feature in the medals once again in future. On the female side, Charley Hull and Melissa Reid will be battling for a spot on the podium at Tokyo 2020.
You’re never far away from a golf course in the UK, least of all when you stay at a Haven park. Inspired by these individuals? Try some golf with us.
Our Adventure Golf courses are just the thing for the whole family. Simply turn up, take a putter and ball, and you’re good to go for just £5 per person. We also have crazy golf courses to try for just £2.50 per person, with our courses guaranteed to surprise and thrill. Pitch and Putt with us is great for a challenge, and costs just £2-£4 depending on the park. For enthusiastic amateurs and budding professionals, our nine-hole courses are expertly designed to give you an entertaining round by the sea.