Golf occupies a particular status among sports, or recreational activities in general, as the ultimate celebrity photo-op. Nobody is rich, successful, or famous until they’re caught on their off-days teeing up at the range in their finest button-ups and trousers. From presidents to CEOs to MVPs to EGOTers, the true gathering place of modern-day nobility has always been the golf course. But why is this the case? From where did this trend emerge?
While golf has traditionally held a very high entrance cost compared to other sports, it’s certainly not alone in its high price— hockey, baseball, and tennis are all similarly steep in equipment costs and membership fees— but none of these activities carry quite the same cache as golf. To examine the origins of the perception of golf as an intersection of status and leisure, we need to evaluate the history and beginnings of the game.
Many civilizations have had similar games conceptually to golf, but Scotland is where the version of the game— which was then played with bent sticks and smooth pebbles— first became widely popular.