Golf is one of the most popular and widely played sports around the world. But whatever anyone may say, Golf is an elite sport that only people who have time and money to spare can afford to play.
India was the first country outside Great Britain that started playing golf 194 years ago when the oldest golf club in the country -the Royal Calcutta Golf Club was established in 1829. The eighteenth century saw the mushrooming growth of new golf courses in India. Within a few years Royal Bombay Golf Club (1842), Bangalore Golf Club (1876), and Shillong Golf Club (1886) came into existence. By the end of the 19th Century, India had over a dozen golf clubs.
Golf was already a popular sport being played by many people in India before the first major course started in the USA and Europe in 1888.
The game of Golf has come a long way since then and is no longer a sport that only rich and famous people can afford. It is an outdoor game in which the players use a set of clubs to hit the ball into a series of holes, in as few strokes as possible.
The top five reasons why golf is an extremely popular sport today include the following:
- It can be played by people of all ages and skill levels,
- It is a great activity for families or friends to enjoy together.
- It is a relaxing and low-stress sport,
- It can be played at a leisurely pace and
- It does not require a lot of physical exertion.
History of golf
It is believed that the game golf originated in ancient Rome, China, and other countries, where a similar game was played using a stick and ball. During the Middle Ages, a game called “Cambuca” was played in England and other European countries. It required players to hit the ball with a stick and try to make it land in a designated target. In the initial stages, the golf clubs were made of wood, and the balls were made of leather and stuffed with feathers. The modern version of the game probably began in Scotland during the 15th century.
By that time it had become so popular that this was the reason why some people started disliking it. King James II went a step ahead and banned the game because he believed was interfering with archery practice. But the subsequent monarchs ignored the ban and patronized the game, which soon spread to other countries.
Father or inventor of the game of golf
Even though Scotland is regarded as the birthplace of golf, no single person deserves to be called the father or inventor of the game of golf which evolved over time in different countries. Instead, many individual stakeholders including golfers, club makers, and course designers – contributed to the development of the game. Some prominent figures in the history of golf include Allan Robertson the world’s first professional golfer, Tom Morris — a successful golfer, course designer, and club maker, and Bobby Jones – one of the greatest golfers of all time who popularized the game in the United States.
Also Read: How has Golf changed over the years?
Today the top 10 countries with the highest number of Golf courses include:
|Country||Golf Courses||% age|
Here are 10 of the biggest golf courses in the world in terms of area. These golf courses offer varying degrees of challenge, and many of them have hosted major golf championships:
- Mission Hills Golf Club, China – 22 courses, spread over an area of about 100 square kilometers
- The International, USA – 36 holes, spread over an area of about 33.2 square kilometers
- Blackstone Golf Club, Korea – 27 holes, covering 1,100 acres.
- Finca Cortesin Golf Course, Spain – 18 holes, covering 532 acres.
- Yas Links, UAE – 18 holes, covering 450 acres.
- Pinehurst Resort, USA – 9 courses, covering 450 acres.
- Streamsong Resort, USA – 3 courses, covering 16,000 acres.
- Chateau Whistler Golf Course, Canada – 18 holes, covering 400 acres.
- Bay Hill Club and Lodge, USA – 27 holes, covering 270 acres.
- The Straits Course at Whistling Straits, USA – 18 holes, covering 560 acres.
Mission Hills Golf Club, China - 22 courses, spread over 100 square kilometers
The Mission Hills Golf Club located in the Guangdong province of China, with about 22 golf courses is the world’s largest golf complex. The complex spread over an area of over 100 square kilometers includes courses designed by some of the biggest names in golf, including Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, and Vijay Singh. The club has hosted several major golf tournaments, including the World Cup and Asian Amateur Championship. The Mission Hills club complex also has luxury resorts, spas, and other amenities for visitors in addition to the golf courses.
The International, USA - 36 holes, spread over about 33.2 square kilometers
The International golf course located at Bolton, Massachusetts, in the United States is spread over an area of about 33.2 square kilometers. Designed by renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. the course has 36 holes, and hosted several major golf tournaments, including the U.S. Senior Open and Solheim Cup. The golf course also has a clubhouse, pro shop, and other amenities for visitors.
Blackstone Golf Club, Korea - 27 holes, covering 1,100 acres
The Blackstone Golf Club located in Icheon, South Korea covers an area of 1,100 acres. Designed by American golf course architect Brian Curley it comprises 27 holes and is known for its scenic beauty and breathtaking layout. Blackstone Golf Club has hosted several major golf tournaments, including the 2011 and 2012 LPGA HanaBank Championship. The club also includes a clubhouse, pro shop, and other amenities for visitors.
Finca Cortesin Golf Course, Spain - 18 holes, covering 532 acres
The Finca Cortesin Golf Course in Casares, Andalusia, Spain covers over 532 acres and has an 18-hole golf course. Designed by American golf course architect Cabell B. Robinson the course is known for its natural beauty, views of the Mediterranean Sea, surrounding mountains, and strategically placed green landscape. The Finca Cortesin Golf Course has hosted several major golf tournaments, including the Volvo World Match Play Championship. The resort also boasts of luxury villas, a spa, and other amenities for visitors.
Yas Links, UAE - 18 holes, covering 450 acres
Yas Links is a golf course spread over an area of 450 acres in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates has an 18-hole championship course, designed by Kyle Phillips. The course located on the shores of Yas Island offers stunning views of the Arabian Gulf and is designed to challenge golfers of all levels. The signature hole is the par-3 17th, which requires a precise tee shot over a large lake to reach the green.
Yas Links received the prestigious best golf course in the Middle East award by Golf Digest Middle East in 2020 and has also hosted several professional tournaments, including the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Yas Links also offers a floodlit nine-hole academy course, a practice range, and a short game area. The clubhouse accommodates a pro shop, locker rooms, a restaurant, and a terrace with views of the sea.
Pinehurst Resort, USA - 9 courses, spread over 450 acres
Pinehurst Resort located at Pinehurst, a village in North Carolina is a historic golf resort established in 1895 in the southeastern USA. It covers an area of 2,000 acres and features nine golf courses, including the Pinehurst No. 2 designed by Donald Ross, which has hosted several major championships like the prestigious US Open Championships. The course features natural, sandy waste areas, and crowned greens that require precision and strategy from golfers of all skill levels.
In addition to Pinehurst No. 2, the resort offers eight other courses, including Pinehurst No. 4 which ranks among the top golf courses in the USA. It was redesigned by Gil Hanse in 2018. Other courses at the resort include Pinehurst No. 8 designed by Tom Fazio and Pinehurst No. 9 designed by Jack Nicklaus. Pinehurst has hosted various professional and amateur tournaments, including the US Open, US Women’s Open, and US Amateur Championship.
Streamsong Resort, USA - 3 courses, covering 16,000 acres
Streamsong Resort spread over an area of 16,000 acres in central Florida in the USA is one of the most attractive destinations for golfers from around the world. The resort includes three world-class golf courses — Streamsong Red, Streamsong Blue, and Streamsong Black. Each course offers a unique golfing experience, uneven terrain, and greens.
Streamsong is known for its dramatic elevation changes and scenic views. Streamsong Blue has an open-links-style design that allows golfers to improvise and play creatively. Likewise Streamsong Black, with its sand dunes and challenging greens is a favored destination for golfers. Streamsong Resort also offers a state-of-the-art practice facility, a clubhouse, a pro shop, and luxury accommodations. The resort is designed to protect the land, water, and wildlife around the courses.
Also Read: Golf homes – a rare luxury housing category
Chateau Whistler Golf Course, Canada - 18 holes, covering 400 acres
The Chateau Whistler Golf Course located in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, and spread over an area of 400 acres is a championship golf course. The course designed by one of the most respected golf course architects in the world Robert Trent Jones Jr. features 18 holes and is known for its scenic mountain views, natural streams, and lakes. Its layout requires precision and strategic thinking by golfers of all skill levels. The course has been designed to integrate seamlessly into the natural surroundings.
The signature hole at Chateau Whistler is the par-3 15th, which features an elevated tee box and a green surrounded by water and bunkers, offering a challenging and picturesque hole for golfers. Chateau Whistler Golf Course is recognized as one of the top golf destinations in Canada and has hosted several professional and amateur tournaments.
Bay Hill Club and Lodge, USA - 27 holes, covering 270 acres
Bay Hill Club and Lodge spread over an area of 270 acres is a golf resort located in Orlando, Florida, USA. The resort features a 27-hole championship golf course, designed by legendary golfer Arnold Palmer. The course is known for its challenging layout, undulating fairways, well-bunkered greens, and water hazards that require precision and strategy from golfers of all skill levels. The course hosts the prestigious professional invitational golf tournament named after Arnold Palmer himself that attracts some of the world’s top players since 1979. The course was adjudged the top-most course in the country by Golf Digest.
The course features several signature holes, including the par-5 6th hole, which offer a risk-reward opportunity for golfers. The three nines at Bay Hill – called Charger, Challenger, and Champion offer a stunning golfing experience.
The Straits Course at Whistling Straits, USA - 18 holes, covering 560 acres
The Straits Course covering an area of 560 acres in Kohler, Wisconsin, USA is a championship golf course. Designed by Pete Dye, and Jack Nicklaus, it features 18 holes and is known for its challenging layout, rugged terrain, deep bunkers, and green grass that gives it a links-style feel. It has hosted several major championships, including the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. The signature hole at the Straits Course is the par-3 17th, known as “Pinched Nerve,” surrounded by sand dunes. The course also features several other notable holes, including the par-4 18th, which requires a long carry over Lake Michigan to reach the green. Some of the other attractions at the resort include activities like fly fishing, boating, and hiking apart from a Kohler Design Center and a Kohler Arts Center.