Golf Girdles the Globe: The Earliest Clubs and Courses

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Until the introduction of the less costly and more durable gutta-percha ball in 1848, the spread of golf
from its homeland was slow. By 1857, there were only 17 golf clubs in Scotland.
Still, golf was played sporadically before that on informal layouts around the world wherever Scots
found themselves as soldiers or business or professional people, and, by 1900, there were more
golf courses in the United States than in the United Kingdom.
Argentina: Lomas Golf Course, 1892.
Australia: Royal Melbourne Golf Club, 1891.
Belgium: Royal Antwerp Golf Club, 1888.
Brazil: São Paulo Golf Course, 1900.
Canada: Montreal Golf Club (now Royal), 1873, was the first golf club in Canada, but golf was played
along the banks of the St. Lawrence River soon after the War of 1812 and probably before
that by Scottish fur traders as they roamed the continent.
China: Golf was played before 1900, but no courses existed between 1949 and the late 1970s,
when several were restored as tourist attractions.
Denmark: A course was in existence before 1900, but golf did not flourish until after World War II.
Egypt: Alexandria Sporting Club, 1880, and Khedevial (now Gizaza) Sporting Club, 1882, were the
England: A seven-hole course was in existence at Blackheath by 1608. Golf was played at Molesey
Hurst by 1758, and Old Manchester was opened around 1818 on Kersal Moor. Yet growth
was slow. By 1888, there were only 58 courses.
Finland: Helsingfors Golf Course, 1932.
France: The Pau Golf Course, 1854.
Germany: Two nine-hole courses were opened at Bad Homburg and Baden-Baden in 1895.
Hong Kong: Hong Kong Golf Club (now Royal), 1889.
Iceland: Golfklubber Islands Golf Course, 1934.
India: Royal Calcutta Golf Club, 1829.
Royal Bombay Golf Club, 1842.
Ireland: Golf was played as far south as Dublin by 1760. Yet, by 1888, there were only six golf courses.
Royal Belfast (1881) and Royal Dublin (1885) were the first formal clubs.
Israel: Caesarea Golf and Country Club, 1960–1961.
Italy: Golf was first played by Scottish officers who followed Bonnie Prince Charlie into exile, but
there were no formal courses until the last decades of the 19th century.
Jamaica: Manchester Country Club, 1868.
Japan: A nine-hole course at meeting Rokko near Kobe was in play by 1901. A club was opened
at Yokohama in 1906. It is said that a Scot had laid out a four-hole course on a mountain
by 1888.
Kenya: A club was established in 1906 at Nairobi.
Korea: Golf was first played around 1920. Seoul Country Club, established in 1932, was the first
Malaysia: Perak Country Club, established at Taiping in 1888, and Royal Selangor, established at
Kuala Lumpur a few years later, are the country’s two oldest clubs.
Morocco: Golf was introduced in the 1920s.
Netherlands: Haagsche Golf Club, established at The Hague in 1893, is the oldest club. Yet, some claim
that golf originated in the Netherlands as the game of kolven.
New Zealand: The Otago Club (then the Dunedin) was established at Dunedin in 1871.
Norway: Oslo Golfklubb, 1924.
Portugal: A nine-hole course was in existence at Matozinhos as early as 1895.
Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe): Bulawayo Country Club, 1895.
South Africa: The first course was established near Capetown in 1882.
Spain: Golf was introduced to the Canary Islands in 1891. The first course on the mainland was
Madrid Polo and Golf Club established in 1904.
Sri Lanka: Royal Colombo Club, 1882.
Sweden: A privately owned course opened at Jönköping in 1888.
Thailand: Royal Bangkok Club, 1890.
United States:
Golf was played sporadically from as early as 1728 when the Royal Governor of Massachusetts
arrived in Boston with nine “goffe clubs.” Formal golf clubs were in existence at
Harleston Green, Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, between 1779 and
1812. A four-hole course was opened in Burlington, Iowa, by 1881, and the nine-hole
Oakhurst Golf Course in White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia, was in play in 1882. The
first organized golf clubs were Dorset Field Club in Vermont, 1886; Foxburg Country Club
in Pennsylvania, 1887; and St. Andrews Golf Club, Yonkers, New York, 1888. By 1900,
there were more golf courses in the United States than in the United Kingdom. Between
1902 and 1912, C. B. Macdonald researched, planned, and built the National Golf Links
on Long Island. Adapting classic holes from the home of golf and creating originals that
were later adapted by others, the National revolutionized course design in North America
and in several other countries.
The first was Moanaluna Golf Course in 1898.
Wales: By 1888, two courses were in play.
Several of the Scottish “Old World Pioneers” in the early golf course design profession are shown at the
Open Tournament in Leith in 1867. Left to right: A. Strath, Davie Park, Bob Kirk, Jamie Anderson, Jamie
Dunn, Willie Dow, Willie Dunn, A. Greig, Tom Morris, Tom Morris, Jun., George Morris.


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