GOLF IN SCOTLAND
Golf in Scotland was first recorded in the 15th century, and the modern game of golf was first developed and established in the country. The game plays a key role in the national sporting consciousness.The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, known as the R&A, is the world governing body for the game (except in the United States and Mexico). The Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association was founded in 1904 and the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) in 1920. They merged in 2015 into a new organization, Scottish Golf.
There are many other famous golf courses in Scotland, including Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Muirfield, Balcomie and Royal Troon.
Although golf is often seen as an elitist sport elsewhere in the world, in the land of its birth it enjoys widespread appeal across the social spectrum, in line with the country’s egalitarian tradition. For example, the Old Course at St Andrews is a charitable trust and Musselburgh Links is public courses. Council-owned courses, with low fees and easy access, are common throughout the country wherever demography and geography allow. Therefore, golf courses, whether public or private, are far more common in the Lowlands than in the Highlands and Islands, where shinty (a game which may share a common ancestry with golf) is often the traditional sport.
Scotland is widely promoted as the ‘Home of Golf’, and along with whisky and the long list of Scottish inventions and discoveries, golf is widely seen as being a key national cultural icon throughout the world. It is frequently used to market the country to potential visitors, for example for the Homecoming year in 2009, and golf tourism accounted for approximately 2% of overall Scottish tourism spending in 2004. One page that explains the history of golf in Scotland starts off by stating that, “There has been much debate as to the origins of the game and, in some cases, how it was originally played. One thing is certain — the game of golf as we know it was born in Scotland”.
Scotland has 578 courses.
The highest concentrations are around Glasgow (94 courses) and Edinburgh (67 courses), since these two cities and their environs account for the bulk of the population. But the other districts still average about 40 courses each. Even the distant northern islands have 14 options. Such largesse is possible because Scotland boasts more courses per head of population than any other country.