According to golf legend, the sport originated in Scotland, and the oldest course in the world still standing is considered to be The Old Course at St. Andrews. Many historians believe this to be the birthplace of the sport, and the course dates back to 1552. While golf was already growing in popularity by the mid-1400s, The Old Course was legally given over to the public in the local area so that they could have an organized location to play the popular game.
In the United States, golf doesn’t date back quite as far as it does in Europe, but there are some courses here that have almost as much prestige. Courses like Augusta National, where The Masters Championship is held each year, are some of the most revered in the world. This is a beautiful course, and membership to the club here is extremely selective. As such, most golf fans will never get to play on the course, but you can watch the excitement from home every April when the first Major Championship of the year is held here.
Other courses, like Oak Hill Country Club in Upstate New York, Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina, Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, and Pebble Beach Golf Links in California are all held in high regard, as well. These are not necessarily the oldest courses in the U.S.—Quail Hollow opened up in 1959 for its first season of play—but they are some of the most attractive and most popular golfing destinations in the world.
The oldest 18-hole golf course in the United States is the Chicago Golf Club. This is a private course, so getting membership to it is pretty difficult to do. It was established in 1892 by Charles B. MacDonald, who also designed the course. As an interesting side note, MacDonald was the winner of the 1895 U.S. Amateur Championship and is considered the father of golf in Chicago. It’s a beautiful course, and one you should definitely check out if you ever get the chance.
Maybe you’ll never get to play at The Old Course or at Augusta National, but your community likely has a golf course that you can spend some time at. Even if it’s a quick play executive course, or a nine-hole course, working on your game is not only great fun and exercise, it helps you to appreciate just how good the professionals are. One of the huge appeals of golf is that almost anyone can do it. You don’t need to be a pro athlete and you don’t need to be in especially good shape to go out on the links and have a good time. To be one of the best in the world, you need to be a top athlete. You need to be physically fit, extremely coordinated, mentally and physically disciplined, and hard working. To go out and spend a few hours at your local course, there’s no need for any of those things, although they can help. The appeal of golf is its universality, something that no other major sport has. But the more time you spend on your own game, the more you see just how truly talented the best are. You don’t need to ever dip under 100 strokes to appreciate the game of golf, but if you’ve ever played just one hole of golf, you will find that you gain a new respect for the golfers at the professional level who do the seemingly impossible hole after hole, round after round, and week after week. Whether you are playing at your local public course, or at one of the most prestigious courses in the world, the game of golf holds a universal appeal.