Written by Maci

Modified & Updated: 28 Apr 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Golf facts

When you watch a film or show, rich people are usually portrayed playing golf as a pastime. Aside from being a symbol of the elite, golf has been deemed the most boring sport in the world by many. However, is that all there is to it? Let’s cover the origins, history, records, and highlights of golf as a sport.

  1. Originally, people used wood for golf balls. 
  2. Golf holds the record for the world’s most boring sport. 
  3. Tiger Woods made his first hole in one at 8 years old.
  4. Golfers are ranked through handicaps: the lower it is, the more skilled the player.
  5. Women’s golf began on New Year’s Day of 1811 in Musselburgh, Scotland. 
  1. Golf was invented in 15th century Scotland.
  2. A golf course usually has 18 holes to progress from.
  3. The stroke play scoring system determines who wins a golf match: whoever completes the most hole in ones using the least amount of strokes wins the match.
  4. The first golf course to use all 18 holes was built on a sheep farm.
  5. Apart from wood, feathers was also used to make golf balls.  
  6. The Professional Golfer’s Association of America was established in 1916.
  7. In 2004, China passed a law that limits the construction of new golf courses in the country due to environmental concerns. 
  8. Tiger Woods has won 77 PGA tournaments. 
  9. On average, a golfer will have a 12,500 to 1 chance of making a hole in one during a game.
  10. Before golf tees were invented, players used mounds of sand or dirt and place the golf balls on top. 
  1. Despite China’s law, the number of golf courses in the country tripled over the years.
  2. The Scottish government banned golf multiple times because they believed that it interfered with military training.
  3. The golfer Phil Mickelson is ambidextrous only when swinging his golf clubs. 
  4. Golf balls that were made with leather and feathers can reach further distances than any golf balls made before the 1800s.
  5. Golf tees were not used until the 1920s.
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Golf Facts Infographics

Golf Facts Infographics

Golf was the first sport played on the moon.

Although viewers of different nationalities voted for golf as the most boring sport to watch, it takes the cake as the first sport ever played in space. Just before leaving the Moon’s surface, Apollo 14 commander and golfer Alan Shepard decided to leave a lasting mark. Shepard swung at two golf balls on the moon using a custom 6-iron club.

Shepard claimed that the golf ball had gone on for miles. It has since landed in a crater called the “Javelin.” Definitely one of the golf facts that’ll make you think twice about how boring it is.

Source: Pixabay

No one knows for sure who invented golf.

Although modern golf traces back to 15th-century Scotland, the sport’s ancient roots are heavily debated between different ancient civilizations.

One theory suggests that golf came from the Roman stick-and-ball game, paganica. Others point to the Chinese chuiwan played between 8th and 14th century China.

Other early games reminiscent of golf are: England’s cambuca, France’s chambot, Persia’s chaugán, and the Netherlands’ kolven.

A golf ball is more likely to travel further during the summer rather than during the winter.

Aside from terrain, weather is a factor that can make or break a golfer’s play. Temperature can affect the trajectory of a stroke. The colder days of the year have much denser air, which increases the drag on the ball and significantly lessens the distance it travels.

In warmer temperatures, there is less air density for the golf ball to fight against. This makes it easier for the golf ball to travel further distances. 

It took 400 years for women to be able to play golf.

Among women leaders, Mary, Queen of Scots is known as the first woman to ever play golf in the 1500s. It even caused the first golf-related scandal when the Queen of Scots was spotted playing golf only days after her husband’s death.

Eventually, golf evolved as a pastime for nobles or businessmen of that time. Since women had no place in business during these periods, they were excluded from playing the sport. It was only on New Year’s Day of 1811 that women’s golf was officially recognized in Musselburgh, Scotland. 

You are more likely to be hit by a car than score a hole in one in golf.

Generally speaking, a golfer has a 1 in 12,500 chance of scoring a hole in one during a game. In the United States, you have a 1 in 4,292 chance of getting run over by a car. Also known as an ‘ace’ in the United States, hole in the ones are much harder to achieve than it seems.

During a game of golf, each hole will generally increase in difficulty as it progresses, thus making the chances of a hole in one slimmer. How’s that for crazy golf facts?

The Augusta National Golf Club is the most famous golf club in the world.

Affectionately dubbed the ‘Augusta’ or ‘The National’ by golf enthusiasts, the Augusta National Golf Club located in Augusta, Georgia.

Originally, the Augusta National Golf Club was designed to have 19 holes instead of 18. The additional hole would have given losing players a last chance of victory on a quick round of double or nothing. However, officials ruled out the extra hole to avoid ruining the flow of the golf course.

A golf ball will have around 300 to 500 dimples on its surface.

On these golf balls, the average depth of each dimple is around 0.001 inches deep. These dimples on the surface affect the lift and drag forces of the golf ball.

This implies that a small miscalculation of its depth can create a great difference in its performance and the overall distance it can travel. 

Over 125 thousand golf balls are hit into the water at the 17th hole of Sawgrass’s Stadium Course. 

One of the most iconic courses in the golf world is the Sawgrass Stadium Course. Most especially the 17th hole. 

Since the beginning of the stadium’s history, many iconic moments in the golf community has occurred on this particular hole in this particular course. Apart from the number of consecutive golf balls falling into the nearby water, many players that have also jumped into the water in celebration of their victories. 

On average, 300 million golf balls are lost in the U.S. per year.

Every year, an estimated 300 million golf balls get lost in the United States. This may seem like a novelty, but it actually threatens the environment since golf balls take 100 to 1,000 years to decompose. Definitely one of the more alarming golf facts.

The golf term "caddie" comes from the word Cadet.

Golf may seem like a loner’s sport, but it is in no way solitary. For a game of golf, the player is accompanied by a companion called the caddie. The caddie carries a player’s bag and clubs, and provides insight and moral support.

The word roots from the French term le cadet which translates into ‘the cadet’ or ‘the young boy’. It first appeared in the English language in the year 1610. 

Players eventually shortened the term to ‘cadet’ or ‘caddie’ shortly after the year 1634.

It would take 4 miles of walking to reach all 18 holes of a regulated golf course.

Generally, playing on a regular golf course with 18 holes will make you walk anywhere between 3 to 6 miles long. However, simply walking to the next location won’t be the only kind of walking players will do in the span of a game. 

Often, a player’s total walking distance increases with locating lost balls and the overall range of the course. 

Golf facts
Source: Pexels

The most famous left-handed golfer is right-handed. 

Phil Alfred Mickelson stands out as one of the 12 players in the history of golf to win 3 out of 4 major golf tournaments. However, this is not his only cool feat. Growing up, the American professional golfer learned how to play golf by mirroring his father who was using a right-handed swing. 

As he grew up, he continued to play golf this way and became known for his left-handed swing. Phil Alfred Mickelson made the World Golf Hall of Fame in the year 2012.

A pro-golfer once predicted his victory.

In 1957, the golfer Doug Ford once entered a contest and attempted to predict his outcome and as well as his score. Eerily enough, Ford described his win to a tee (Ba-dum tss). Much to the surprise of many, Doug Ford was able to win the competition according to his precise predictions. 

Not only had he won the contest, but he also finished the game with the exact score he had predicted: 282.

Golf balls used to be handmade.

The ‘feathery’ type was one of the first purpose-built golf balls. These golf balls were made of leather stitched into a spherical shape that contained feather stuffing from geese or chickens. 

Back then, each ball was handmade and took around a few hours or so to make a single ball. This manufacturing process caused them to become more expensive.

Only 20% of all the golfers in the world have achieved a handicap of less than 18.

In golf terms, a handicap is the numerical measure of a player’s potential. Those with lower handicaps are considered to be the more skilled golfers.

While handicaps are generally understood in the world of golf, the rules differ depending on the country you are playing in. However, officials aim to standardize it through creating the 2020 World Handicap System (WHS).

The world's longest golf hole is almost 1,000 yards long.

The world’s longest golf hole is 7th hole of the Sano Course at the Satsuki Golf Club in the country of Japan.

The golf hole measures a length of 881 meters which is roughly 964 yards long. Satsuki Golf Club is located in Sano Tochigi, Japan about 2 hours away from central Tokyo. 

Kassandra Komma hit two aces in one game. 

Kassandra Komma got the surprise of her life when she made the first hole in one in her career – not once – but twice. Komma had been a rising senior at Oakland University at the time she made the two aces.

Another golfer that has accomplished this feat include Bill Whedon during the first round of the 1955 Insurance City Open. Back in 1955, Bill Whedon was still an amateur at the Wethersfield Country Club and aced the 168-yard hole number 5 and the 208-yard hole number 9.

Another golfer to achieve a double hole in one in a single game is Japanese golfer, Yusaku Miyazato. He is also the second player to make two holes in one in the same game during 2006 in the PGA tour that is now called the Barracuda Championship.

The youngest golfer ever recorded to successfully shoot a hole in one was five years old. 

Cosby Orr holds the record for the youngest person to ace a hole in one in all of golf history. Young Cosby Orr was only 5 years old when he claimed the record in 1975. How’s that for cool golf facts?

Peru houses the highest golf course in the world.

The Tactu Golf Club in Peru stands as the highest golf course in the world. Found in the mountains of Morococha, Peru, the Tactu Golf Club’s lowest point towers 14,335 ft over sea level. This golf course has ranked as the highest golf course in the world since the year 1993.

The Solheim Cup is the biggest competition in women's professional golf.

The Solheim Cup is a biennial golf tournament established for female professional golfers that are made up of teams representing the United States and Europe. This event is held in alternating even years to the men’s professional golfing tournament, the Ryder Cup. 

However, after the September 11 attacks, the Solheim Cup shuffled their tournament to occur every odd year starting in 2003.

The longest hole in one was shot from 475 yards away.

The Lake Hefner Golf Course is located in the city of Oklahoma in the United States. This course is particularly known for hosting the longest ranged hole in one in the history of golf. 

In March 1961, Lou Kretlow achieved this record on the 16th hole.

Golf facts
Source: Pexels

The golfer Seve Ballesteros has won over 90 international competitions. 

This Spanish golfer was considered to be one of the world’s greatest professional European players in the history of golf. Seve Ballesteros has over 90 international tournament victories under his belt as well as five major championship victories. 

This golfer was also known for being an incredibly entertaining artist who helped popularize the sport of golf in Europe. Unfortunately, Seve Ballesteros passed away on the 7th of May in 2011.

18 holes is the standard for golf courses.

As a standard rule, a round of golf must consist of 18 holes. This can be achieved by most courses, or in shared fairways or greens. 

For the latter, a subset should contain nine holes that will be played twice per round. In the case of most older courses in Europe, many are links that are also often coastal. 

Nick Faldo has won the United States master a total of three times. 

This European professional golfer made a name for himself as a top player of his era. In his professional career, Nick Faldo won over 40 tournaments, including 30 European tour victories and 6 major championships. 

This professional golfer also ranked first in the Official World Golf Ranking for 97 weeks in a row. 

Ian Woosnam has only won one major tournament during his career. 

Ian Woosnam became a professional golfer in the year 1976 and first competed in the European tour in 1979. Despite only having one major tournament victory under his career belt, he was a member of the ‘Big Five’ generation of European golfers.

This group consisted of professionals who have also won major tournaments and were accepted to compete in the Ryder Cup. 

Tiger Woods has earned over $100 million in prize money from golf.

Tiger Woods won his first Masters back in 1997 at the age of 21. Since the last decade, he now earns an estimated $115 million per year. 

From the beginning of his professional career, Tiger Woods has won over 81 PGA Tour victories. His current estimated net worth is $800 million

A Triple Bogey refers to 3 shots over par on a hole. 

Each hole on a golf course has a par rating. This score refers to a three-over-par on an individual hole of the golf course.

Each rating is a singular digit number that represents the number of strokes that the player is expected to play to get the ball into the hole. A golf hole is normally designated as a par 3, par 4, or par 5. 

Most golf clubs break due to poor swings.

The average golf club has a lifespan of three years. Thanks to the continuously advancing technology that we have, modern-day golf clubs are now sturdier and come with a better grip.

However, when these tools are not handled properly or misused, they can still be bent and misaligned. 

The average golf club can last for 10 years.

When properly maintained, a golf club can last for more than its average lifetime. However, this does depend on the frequency of usage and the intensity it is used. 

A golf club’s lifetime is also dependent on what kind of material it is made from. For example, a 3 wood is more prone to breaking sooner than most golf clubs.

The average golf tee is made from plastic or a variation of hardwood.

A few modern golfers today prefer using plastic tees instead of the wooden ones. This is mainly because plastic tees are more durable than wood. 

This particular material also lasts longer during any average day on the golf course. 

Golf facts
Source: Pexels

A golfing glove can help you distinguish a player's dominant hand. 

The golfing glove naturally helps the golfer acquire a better grip on his club. When a golfer is right-handed, they typically wear the glove on their left hand, and vice versa.

The glove allows a tighter grip on the player’s club as he swings with the other hand.

Golf clubs can be made from several metals. 

More commonly, they are made from several materials such as plastics, metals and ceramic to form the different parts of the golf club. However, more modern-day golf clubs commonly use a mixture of stainless steel and titanium to make the body. 

Additionally, the head of the golf clubs may also be made from different materials such as chrome-plated steel and tungsten to better absorb the impact of the golf ball. 

France once established a naked golf course.

This golf course is the only one of its kind in the world where nudity is mandatory for those who wish to play on this course. The golf course is so peculiar that it once featured in an American coverage of the world’s top 10 golf courses. 

The La Jenny Naturist Golf Course can be found on the west coastline of France. 

Babe Zaharias was the first woman to make it to the PGA Tour event in 1945.

During her career in professional golf, Zaharias has won ten LPGA major championships and was widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. This is not only due to her golf career, but she also did just as well in basketball, baseball, and track and field. 

Despite being a latecomer to the sport, she became best known for her career in the world of golf. 

Celine Dion owns a golf course in Quebec. 

What many might not know about Celine Dion is that she is an avid golfer. To express her love for the sport, the famed singer bought the Le Mirage Golf Club in the late 90s. Dion and her celebrity companions have since been playing together. 

The 2010 record of most holes played in the year belongs to Richard Lewis.

Richard Lewis is a 64-year-old amateur golfer who holds the record for playing over 600 rounds of golf within the calendar year. After walking over 2,500 miles and hitting over 50,000 shots, Lewis was able to achieve this record in late 2010.

Because of this outstanding record, the Guinness Book of World Record listed him as the world’s most avid golfer.  

There is a popular myth that the word ‘Golf’ is an acronym.

Many believe that the reason why golf is a male-dominated sport is due to the name of the sport acts as a gender-biased acronym. This is a common misconception to those who do not play the sport and believe that the word golf stands for ‘Gentlemen Only. Ladies Forbidden’.

Roughly 22.8% of golfers are female. 

Since its popularization in Europe, golf has always been a male-dominated sport. Even in modern-day golf, it can be observed that the sport appeals mainly to the male demographic. 

While women are now accepted in the world of golf, the sport is still mainly dominated by the male gender. 

To win at golf, the player has to be the one to play the least amount of golf.

The general rule of the sport is to get the ball from the tee into the hole in as few shots as possible. The ball must also be sunk into the hole for the turn to finish. 

Normally, golf is played individually. However, in some tournaments, players are grouped into three of four and play together against other teams. Additionally, the concept of couples golf has also been introduced which allows both men and women to play together.

golf course

Golf returned to the Olympic games in 2016.

The year 2016 marks the return of golf into the Olympic games after 112 years of hiatus. To those unaware, bringing back golf as an Olympic event was an extremely successful occasion that brought together all professionals and fans together. 

A total of 120 players had participated in the events which had an even division of men and women. These players represented 41 countries in total as well. 

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