It has always been accepted that golf was invented in Scotland, but more recent research has thrown that belief into question among some quarters.  In 2006, a Chinese professor named Ling Hongling said that the Dongxuan Records, written in the years 960-1297, describe a game called chiuwan, where players would use 10 clubs to hit a ball, with the purpose of getting the ball into holes that were dug into the ground.  The Dutch also played a game that apparently started in the 13th century called “colf,” which resembled golf, and the French played jeu de mail.             Given the similarity of the words “colf” and “golf,” and given that there were close trading ties between Holland and Scotland, it seems reasonable that the Dutch indeed had a major influence in the game’s origins.  While the Chinese claim is not to be discounted, undoubtedly humans have been knocking rocks into holes for amusement for centuries in all parts of the globe.  The game as we know it today definitely originated in Scotland.             There, records from the 15th century show that King James II of Scotland banned both soccer and golf in 1457, because they interfered with archery practice – which was, of course, vital in helping to defend the country from outside invaders.  The ban was lifted in 1502 with the Treaty of Glasgow, which declared peace between Scotland and England.             Contrary to popular belief, the oldest continuously played course in the world is Musselburgh Links, although golf was played at St. Andrews in the 1400’s.  Musselburgh has been in continual existence since 1672.             In continental Europe, most golf clubs were established around the turn of the 20th century.  For example, the first club established in Sweden was in 1902; Germany in 1895; Belgium in 1888; Austria in 1901; and Italy in 1902.  France’s first club came a bit earlier, in 1856.             In America, there is record of a shipment of 432 golf balls and 96 clubs to David Deas in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1743.  Likely, the shipment wasn’t for Deas alone, as the size of the order suggested it was for a group of golfers.             There is also record of the establishment of the South Carolina Golf Club in 1786, which would make it the first golf club established outside of the United Kingdom.  The Savannah Golf Club was formed in 1794, and the club’s website claims that date as its date of origin, although the modern-day club was incorporated in 1899.             The first permanent golf club established in North America was the Royal Montreal Golf Club in Canada.  In the United States, the first permanent club was formed by John Reid and a group of friends known at The Apple Tree Gang.  They established the St. Andrews Golf Club in Yonkers, New York, in 1888.             Australia has had a long and storied golf history.  The first course was established in Bothwell, Tasmania, in either 1822 or 1842 (records are inconclusive), known as the Ratho Links, and is still in existence today.  The first golf club formed in Australia was the Australian Golf Club in Sydney in 1882, and the oldest golf club in continuous use is the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, founded in 1891.             In Asia, the game chiuwan died out in China by the Middle Ages.  The first golf club established in Asia was the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in 1829, followed by Royal Bombay Golf Club in 1842, the Bangalore Golf Club in 1876, and the Shillong Golf Club in 1886.  The All-India Amateur Golf Championship was inaugurated in 1892 by the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, and the tournament has the distinction of being the second-oldest tournament in the world, after The Open Championship.             Japan is somewhat of a golf-crazed nation, with past heroes like Isao Aoki, Jumbo Ozaki, and Tommy Nakajima on the men’s side, and Chako Higuchi and Ayako Okamoto on the women’s side.  The game first appeared around 1910, and at the outbreak of World War II, the country had 65 golf courses.  Since the game was considered a Western import, the game was banned and fell out of favor until the 1960’s, when interest rekindled.  There are now more than 3,000 courses in Japan.             Today, golf is played in virtually every corner of the world, and in places you might not expect – North Korea, Cuba, and Haiti (before the earthquake) are but a few places that come to mind.  The allure and challenges of the game are truly global.
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