Things to know about Golf in Scotland
1. The birthplace of golf
The first record of golf in Scotland dates back to the 15th century. In 1457, golf was banned by parliament as it was seen as a distraction from military training. The ban was repealed in 1502 and King James IV made the first documented purchase of golf clubs in the same year. King James IV wasn’t the only royal fond of a round of golf, whilst official records have the founding of the world’s oldest existing golf course at Musselburgh Old Links in 1672, folk history says that Mary, Queen of Scots played there in 1567.
2. The finest courses in the world
There are over 550 golf courses in Scotland today. Along a short stretch of coastline running from Largs to Ayr there is an endless procession of fairways including some of the finest links courses in the world: Turnberry, Royal Troon, Kilmarnock Barassie, Old Prestwick, Bogside, Glasgow and Western Gailes… and that’s just Ayrshire!
3. Pioneer in course architecture
One of the first great exponents of golf course was Thomas Mitchell “Old Tom” Morris, Sr. of St Andrew’s (not to be confused with son and fellow golfer, Young Tom Morris). Whilst his career as a player was illustrious, to this day he holds the British Open records as oldest champion and greatest margin of victory, and equally well-remembered for his pioneering work in course architecture. Old Tom’s work can be seen at Carnoustie, Nairn and Old Dornoch in Scotland, as well as Lahinch, Co. Clare in Ireland and Royal County Down in Northern Ireland.
4. “The finest parcel of land”
The PGA® Centenary Course, created by Jack Nicklaus, is considered a modern classic. Set in the spectacular Perthshire countryside, Nicklaus described it as “The finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with”.
5. Internationally renowned ‘Home of Golf’
If you ask any golfer to point you to the home of golf, all will point in one direction. Jack Nicklaus is quoted as saying “When the Open is in Scotland, there’s really something special about it.”
6. World-class players
Scotland has produced more than its fair share of world-class players: Paul Lawrie, Colin Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle and not least Ayrshire-born Sam Torrance OBE. Having won 21 European Tour titles over three decades, Torance went on to become one of Europe’s most beloved Ryder Cup captains when he led the side to victory at The Belfry.
7. The first international golf match
The founding of The Ryder Cup in 1927 stemmed from the first international golf match between Great Britain and the United States in 1921. The American PGA brought American golfers over to Britain as a team as no American had yet won The British Open. A warm-up tournament between Great Britain and the United States was arranged two weeks before the British Open at St Andrews and held at Gleneagles. This tournament marked the beginnings of what would become The Ryder Cup.
8. The most successful Ryder Cup player
Scottish golfers have historically been well represented in The Ryder Cup. George Duncan of Aberdeenshire featured in the first three Ryder Cups – captaining Great Britain to its first victory in 1929. Colin Montgomery is the most successful Scottish golfer in the tournament’s history having never lost a singles match and amassed 23.5 points across eight Ryder Cups over the course of 36 matches.
9. The greatest comeback in golf history
The 2012 Ryder Cup was one of the greatest comebacks in golfing history. Team Europe were trailing 10 points to six but on the final day took 8½ of a possible 11 points to take the victory. Paul Lawrie from Aberdeen played a key role in the winning team in 2012, beating Brandt Snedeker on the Sunday to earn a valuable point for Team Europe.
10. Hosts of the 2014 Ryder Cup
This year, 2014, is only the second time that The Ryder Cup has been hosted in Scotland. The 40th Ryder Cup will be played this year at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire having last visited Scotland in 1973, when it was played at Muirfield in East Lothian.