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Fun Facts about Golf: The Sport of Kings

Golf is a popular sport that has been around for centuries. Many people know it as the “sport of kings.” But just how old is golf? Where did it come from? What is unique about the sport? There are many exciting golf fun facts that you may not know! This blog post will discuss some fascinating facts about this popular sport.

20 Fun Facts about Golf

  1. Golf is among the top 10 most popular sports in the world. Over 24 million people played golf on a course in 2019, and the sport has over 450 million fans worldwide!
  2. Golf has diverse origins. The ancient Chinese played a golf-like game called chuiwan, and the ancient Romans played a similar game called paganica. The modern game of golf has its origins in 15th-century Scotland.
  3. Though modern golf originated in Scotland, the word “golf” is Dutch. Written as “kolve” or “kolf,” the Dutch introduced it to the Scots, who pronounced it “goff.” This word eventually became the word we know and love -golf!
  4. The first golf courses in Scotland were village greens and cattle pastures.
  5. The first golf balls were leather balls stuffed with bird feathers. These could travel further than balls introduced afterward. The balls that came afterward were wooden and uneven -making them unpredictable!
  6. The first mass-produced golf balls were made from sapodilla tree sap heated and dried into a round mold. These balls, called gutties, would become dinged and nicked from being hit so often, inspiring the textured surface of modern golf balls.
  7. The oldest golf course in the world is The Old Course at St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland. The town established the course in 1552.
  8. The king of Scotland banned golf thrice between 1457 and 1744. The reasoning was that the government thought golf interfered with military training, including archery practice. The Scottish people widely ignored these bans.
  9. Mary Queen of Scots was the first recorded female golfer. Many people call her the Mother of Golf.
  10. Golf tees didn’t exist until the end of the 19th century. Before that, players would use a small mound of sand or dirt. An African-American man named Dr. George Grant (the second African American to earn a dental degree) invented the first golf tees and patented the design in 1899.

Modern Golf Fun Facts

  1. Astronauts played golf on the moon!. Alan Bartlett Shepherd Jr. used a six-iron to play a stellar game of golf on February 6th, 1971. He had to smuggle the club and two balls onto the mission because NASA would not have allowed him to bring them on the lunar lander!
  2. Can you guess what the longest verified putt was? 395 feet!
  3. Golf is a ball game that does not have a set field or court. The layout, terrain, and the number of holes on a golf course determine its difficulty.
  4. Golf holes don’t stay in one place! Workers regularly move golf holes around to keep the green from being worn out by players.
  5. The word “fore” is a golfer’s way of warning others on the green about an errant ball. It is a shortened version of the word “afore,” which is an old Scottish word that means “look out!”
  6. Before the modern numbering system for golf clubs, there were many different clubs that went by many different names. These included fun-to-say words like spoons, niblicks, lofting, and mashie.
  7. The Toonik Tyme Festival in Northern Canada includes a 9-hole golf course. In subzero temperatures, the golfers play on a sheet of ice and use fluorescent balls to keep from losing them in the snow!
  8. A hole-in-one refers to hitting the golf ball into the hole in a single swing. Your odds of doing this are about 1 in 12,500. Your odds of doing this twice in one round of golf are much lower -1 in 67 million!
  9. Most golf balls have between 300 and 500 dimples. The most dimples ever recorded on a golf ball were 1,070!
  10. The most famous golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, made his first hole-in-one when he was only eight years old!

Get Involved

We hope you found these golf fun facts interesting and learned something new. Golf is a sport for the ages and all ages. The Indian River Golf Foundation is committed to offering children the skills and mentorship to develop a lifelong love for golf. Want to join the foundation? Please contact the Founder and President of IRGF, Roger Van Dyke. He is available by email at or by phone at 772-713-9593. We look forward to seeing you soon at the Indian River Golf Foundation!

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