Golf has been played since the 15th century when players used a stick to hit a round pebble around the beaches and sand dunes of Scotland. Today it's one of the most popular sports in the world, played by around 60 million people annually.

A History of the Golf Course

As variations of the game became more popular, large areas of land were cleared for the purpose; the forerunner of today's golf course. The old course at St Andrews in Scotland was founded in 1552 and is thw oldest course in the world. Other well known and long established course3a include Carnoustie, Musselburgh and Prestwick in Scotland, and Shinnecock Hills and Royal Montreal in North America. The earliest golf courses were simply areas of ground cleared of bushes and trees, with flags and holes located at intervals. Gradually, the concept of actually designing a course came into existence, although many golfers will tell you that the best and most challenging courses are those that evolved naturally. Golf course design, or architecture came into its own during the 1920s, a period often described as the golden age of course design. Maintaining a course is a full time job and is just as important as cricket pitch maintenance, and keeping the tennis court looking its best. One of the most challenging parts of any golf course is the putting greens, which have to be kept in perfect condition, an often challenging job during the winter months.

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The Appeal Of Golf

Anyone who loves the game will tell you it can be difficult to explain just why golf is so popular and addictive. Golf is one of the few sports that can be played by people of almost any age; in fact, it's one of the most popular pastimes for those who are retired. You can play golf by yourself, or with a small group of friends and you can take the sport as seriously as you want to. Many weekend golfers look upon a round on Saturday morning as a chance to get some exercise, socialize and don't take the game too seriously. However, for others, playing golf really is a chance to test themselves against the course, the elements and try to beat their last score. And golf is one of the very few sports where you can play on the same ground as some of the game's true greats - if you have a decent handicap and can afford the green fees, you can tee off on the first hole at St. Andrew's, Royal Birkdale, Carnoustie or Pebble Beach.

There are plenty of other popular sports - rugby, football, hockey, angling and crown green bowling to name a few. In fact, based on numbers alone, fishing is the most popular sport in the UK, and the appeal is perhaps obvious. But for a real golf fan, there is no substitute for the feeling that comes from sending that first drive 225 yards past the bunker, or knocking in that tricky four feet putt.