England has the largest number of golf courses in Europe with 1923 courses registered as of 2015. Other nations in the top 10 include Germany with 727 courses, followed by France, Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, and Denmark. The number of golf courses in England has steadily increased since King Charles I first introduced the sport to England in the 16th century from Scotland. At the time, golf was played using wooden and balls of stitched horsehide wrapped around feathers.
Countries with the Most Golf Courses
Golf in England
Golf in England traces its roots to King James VI who after succeeding to the throne of England in 1603 was known to play golf at Blackheath, London. By 1880 there were 12 golf courses in England, quickly rising to 50 courses by 1887. By 1914 the number of golf courses in England had expanded to over 1,000. The Royal Blackheath Golf Club in London (1766), Royal North Devon Golf Club in Westward Ho! (1864), and London Scottish Golf Club in London (1865) are the oldest in England. The British Empire is also responsible for the spread of golf around the world, with golf clubs established in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada by the 1880s.
Golf in Germany
In Germany, golf was first played by English Tourists in spas. The Berlin-Wannsee was founded in 1895 and was the first golf course in Germany. The German Federation (Deutscher Golfverband) was later established In Hamburg in 1907. The popularity of the sport has since grown tremendously making Germany the country with the second highest number of golf courses in continental Europe. In Germany, about 57% of all the golfers are males while 35% are female and 8% are junior players. The country has exceptional organizations supporting golf and who continually endeavor to improve golfing sport. Golf is among the fastest growing sports in the country. Some of the professional golfers who have put the country in the world map in golf include Martin Kaymer and Bernhard Langer.
Golf in France
Early of evidence of the sport of golf in France appeared in the 16th century after it was introduced by Mary Queen of Scots who is also known as the first female golfer after she was seen playing the game after the death of her husband. Since then the number of golf courses has increased exponentially. France is also home to Pau which was established in 1856, one of the oldest golf course in continental Europe and producing the first winner of a golf tournament outside the UK.
Golf in Scotland
Scotland is referred to as the birthplace of golf. The sport emerged around the 15th century on the eastern coast of Scotland near the royal capital of Edinburgh. At the time players would try to hit a rounded pebble around tracks and over dunes of sand. The game was initially banned by King James II in 1457 as it interfered with archery which at the time was crucial for national defense. In 1502, King James IV of Scotland accorded the golf the royal seal of approval. The sport quickly spread throughout Europe in the 16th century following the royal endorsement. The first 18 hole golf course was later established in 1764 at St Andrews hence setting the standard of the game as we know it today. Since then the number has risen earning Scotland position 4 in the number of courses in Europe.
Growth of Golf
Golf spread to other parts of the world through Britain’s global expansionism in the 19th century, and subsequent funding by the major corporations in America drove the sport to new heights. Some, however, argue that the game grew as a result of its ability to inspire passion through competition while also providing the opportunity to socialize and exercise. This is supported by a survey by the Swedish Golf Federation in 2010 which found that 76.3% of all golfers played to exercise and improve their health, 67.6% played to socialize with friends and family, while 27% played for the competitive element of the sport.