One hundred golf facts and trivia covering the history of golf, golf terminology, golf equipment facts, golf club facts, golf professional and golfing celebrity facts and more.
Historical Golf Facts
1. The game of Golf was invented over 500 years ago in Scotland, however it is claimed that the Chinese developed a similar game as far back as 943 A.D.
2. Between 1457 and 1502, golf was banned in Scotland on three separate occasions to prevent Scots from being distracted from preparations to defend against an English invasion. The ban was implemented in 1457, 1471 and 1491.
3. On February 6, 1971, Apollo 14 member Alan Shepard hit a ball on the moon with a six-iron. Shephard had to play the shot with one-handed because of his space suit.
4. The longest putt ever was a huge 375 feet by Fergus Muir in November 6, 2001 at St Andrews.
5. The longest ever televised putt was this beaut by Dave Pelz holed at Whistling Straits.
7. Coby Orr is the youngest golfer to make a hole-in-one. In 1975, at just 5 years of age he achieved every golfer’s dream on a par 3 in Littleton, Colorado.
8. Richard Lewis holds the record for the most number of holes of golf played in a single year. Between January 1st and December 31st 2010, he played 11,000 holes, every one of them at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving, Texas.
9. The longest hole-in-one record has stood since March 1961 when Lou Kretlow aced the 427 yard 16th hole at Lake Hefner course, Oklahoma City, USA
10. Canadian Jason Zuback and five-time World Long Drive Champion holds the record for the fastest ever golf drive at 204 miles per hour. With speed on his side he can drive the ball 468 yards.
11. Golf: the origin of the word “golf” is thought to have come from the Dutch word “kolf” or “kolve”, meaning “club” and the passed into Scottish language and became to “golve,” “gowl” or “gouf” because of the eccentricities of Scottish dialect. Many people wrongly believe that it’s because it forms the acronym; “Gentleman Only, Ladies Forbidden”, but that is merely an internet myth.
12. Birdie: coined by an American named Ab Smith who initially referred to a “bird of a shot” which later became a “birdie.”
13. Caddy: is derived from the French word “cadet” (with has roots in the Gascon Occitan as capdèth or capdet, meaning chief then younger boy) used to refer to the Cadets de Gascogne, the youngest sons of the aristocratic families of Gascony who were captains serving in the French Army during the 15th century.
14. Scratch golfer: a golfer with a handicap of zero.
15. The Honor (Honour in British English): when a golfer is entitled to tee off first, usually having won the last hole, or maintained “The Honor since the last hole with a winner.
16. Condor: not a phrase you’re likely to come across in golf, a “condor” is the name for a score of 4 under par. There have only been four verified condor’s, all hole-in-one’s on par 5.
17. Links golf courses: are characterised by being built on the thin strip of grass, sand and dunes between the sea and typical agricultural land. As a result they often have undulating fairways, are interspersed with sand dunes, have numerous bunkers and very little in the way of trees.
18. Parkland golf courses: typically have lush, well maintained fairways, mature trees and woodland, deep rough and bunkers.
19. Resort golf courses: resort courses are typically more playable than other types of golf courses because they’re designed to entertain guests of hotels and resort companies. Featuring wide fairways, short cut rough and forgiving greens, resort courses are designed for quick, easy play and to make the most of their natural surroundings.
20. Heath-land golf courses: usually have rolling fairways, sculpted through the natural landscape with bushes, shrubs and few trees.
21. Desert golf courses: rely heavily on man-made watering systems to maintain lush fairways and greens in stark contrast to their barren desert setting. Popular in southwestern US states they’re also becoming more common in North Africa and the Middle East. Desert golf courses are usually flat with man-made lakes and waterways, cacti, palm trees and rocky outcrops.
22. A “mulligan” is a bad shot which by mutual agreement between playing partners is cancelled and replayed.
23. Striking the ground before making contact with the ball was called a “sclaff”.
Pro Golf Facts
24. Walter Hagen was the first professional golfer, in the 1920’s he became a golf club pro and earned a living teaching.
25. Dr. Cary Middlecoff, an honoree at this year’s Memorial Tournament, gave up dentistry to play golf and won 37 tournaments, including the Masters and two U.S. Opens.
26. In 1962, Jack Nicklaus collected his first paycheck on the PGA Tour, $33.33 at the L.A. Open.
27. The only female golfer to make the cut at a PGA Tour event is Babe Zaharias at the L.A. Open in 1945.
28. In 1957, Doug Ford predicted that he’d win The Masters with a score of 283. Amazingly, not only won the tournament he got the score he predicted too.
29. Despite being the most talented left-handed golfer ever, Phil Mickelson is naturally right-handed. He learnt to play golf mirroring his father’s swings and it worked so well for him never had reason to change.
30. The 1953 World Championship of Golf was the first nationally televised golf tournament. The tournament was filled with the drama that has helped golf become a mainstay of sports entertainment. Lew Worsham needed a birdie to take the tournament into a playoff against Chandler Harper but he eagled from 104 yards to win on the final hole.
31. The LPGA Tour’s record for the fastest round is held by Alice Miller. Miller completed 18 holes in 1 hour, 26 minutes and 44 seconds at the Welch’s/Circle K Championship in 1997
32. The longest recorded putt in a professional tournament was made by Bob Cook at the 1976 International Fourball Pro Am Tournament. On the 18th hole at St. Andrews, Cook made a 140 foot and 2 and ¾ inch long putt.
33. The legendary Sam Snead is the only male golfer to have won a tournament on the LPGA Tour. In 1962, he won the 1962 Royal Poinciana Plaza Invitational finishing with a 5 shot lead.
34. The chances of making two consecutive holes in one is at the edge of the realms of possibility and odds have been put anywhere where between 25,000,000 and 65,000,000 to 1. But at the 1971 Martini Tournament in Norwich, England John Hudson did just that, with aces on the 11th and 12th holes. The 11th hole was 195 yards long and the 12th hole, a whopping 311 yards.
35. Golfing legend Billy Casper had a lesser trodden route into professional golf. While serving in the Navy, he was assigned to the special athletic unit in San Diego giving him the opportunity to hone his game. He turned pro during the Korean War in 1954.
36. In 1963 Jack Nicklaus became the youngest player to win The Masters.
37. In 1986, Jack Nicklaus became the oldest player to win The Masters.
38. Tiger Woods made his first hole-in-one when he was just 8 years old.
Golf Club Facts
39. In 1744, the first golf club was founded, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers which played at Leith links.
40. Founded in 1754, The Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews set the standard of the 18 hole golf course.
41. The first golf club in England was founded in 1787, The Royal Blackheath, Eltham, London.
42. The first golf club in France was Pau Golf Club, founded in 1856.
43. The first golf instruction manual was published in 1857; “The Golfer’s Manual”, by “A Keen Hand” (H. B. Farnie).
44. The first golf club in Ireland was The Royal Curragh Golf Club in Kildare, founded in 1858.
45. The first golf club in Australia was The Royal Adelaide Golf Club, founded in 1870.
46. The first golf club in New Zealand was Otago Golf Club, founded in 1871.
47. The first golf club in Africa was The Royal Cape Golf Club is founded at Wynberg, South Africa, founded in 1885.
48. The first golf club to open in the United States was the Chicago Golf Club opened in 1893. The club moved two years later and has resided in the same location since 1895. Downers Grove Golf Course is at the original site.
49. The International Golf Club in Massachusetts is the home of the longest golf course in the world. At 8,325 yards the course plays to a par of 77.
50. The Sano Course at the Satsuki Golf Club in Japan boasts the world’s longest hole. The 7th hole on the course it is a par 7 and is 909 yards long.
51. Pine Valley Course in New Jersey has the world’s biggest bunker. Affectionately named “Hell’s Half Acre”, the hole is one of the hazards faced on the 7th hole..
52. The longest course in the world isn’t the International Golf Club in Massachusetts only record breaking feature. It also boasts the largest green in the world. The green on the par 6, 5th hole measures in excess of 28,000 square feet.
53. The Augusta National Golf Club, the home of The Masters, was closed for 3 years during World War II to support the war effort. The course was used to raise cattle and turkey.
54. The Tactu Golf Club in Morococha, Peru is the highest golf course in the world. Even at it’s lowest point it is 14,335 feet above sea level.
55. Akureyri Golf Club in Iceland is the world’s most northerly golf course.
56. Run by the New Zealand Antarctic Program, Scott Base Country Club is the world’s most southerly golf course.
57. The coldest annual golf tournament is hosted at the Toonik Tyme Festival in the Northern Canadian territory. The Nunavut’s have a 9 hole tournament on a sheet of ice using fluorescent balls to reduce the risk of losing them in the snow.
Golf Equipment Facts
58. Cast Golf Clubs: cast golf clubs are made by pouring molten metal into a mould, around 90% of golf clubs are made using this process.
59. Forged Golf Clubs: softer steel is used to make forge clubs, the steel is stamped or beat into shape which is what give forged clubs “a better feel.”
60. Up until the 1920’s two-wood golf clubs were referred to as “the brassie”.
61. Up until the 1920’s three-wood golf clubs were referred to as “the spoon”.
62. Up until the 1920’s four-wood golf clubs were referred to as “the baffy”.
63. Up until the 1920’s five-wood golf clubs were referred to as “the clerk”.
64. Iron’s were also named individually as follows:
65. The one iron was called “the driving iron”.
66. The two iron was called “the midiron”.
67. The three iron was called “the mid mashie”.
68. The four iron was called “the mashie iron”.
69. The five iron was called “the mashie”.
70. The six iron was called “the spade mashie”.
71. The seven iron was called “the mashie niblick”.
72. The eight iron was called “the pitching niblick”.
73. The nine iron was called “the niblick”.
74. The “hosel” is the name of socket which an iron club’s shaft fits into.
75. There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.
76. However, not all golf balls have the same amount of dimples and they range between 330 and 500 dimples.
77. The most popular golf balls have between 380 and 432 dimples.
78. Golf balls were originally made from thin leather stuffed with feathers. At the time, tightly packing feathers was the most effective way to produce golf balls that flew the longest distance.
79. It was around 1848 that the use of golf balls made from thin leather stuffed with feathers fell out of favor.
80. Before the use of tees, golfers would tee-off from a pile a sand.
81. It wasn’t until the 1920’s when the plastic and wood golf tees we’re familiar with today started to gain popularity.
82. In 1899, George F. Grant of Boston patented the tapered wooden tee.
83. The sand wedge was invented by Gene Sarazen’s. He debut the club at The Open Championship at Prince’s Golf Club in 1932 and went on to win the tournament.
84. You’re not allowed to carry more than 14 golf clubs in your golf bag.
85. Before the 1890s, there were no golf bag, caddies would tie a strap around clubs to carry them.
Celebrity Golf Facts
86. Samuel L. Jackson is a huge golf lover and has a clause written to all his movie contracts that allows him to play golf twice a week.
87. There is a long history of golfing US presidents, Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t even let snow get in the way of his love for the game and would play using black golf balls.
88. Celine Dion is a golf fanatic and owns a golf course, Le Mirage Golf Club in Terrebonne, Quebec.
Random Golf Facts
89. 125,000 golf balls a year are hit into the water at the famous 17th hole of the Stadium Course at Sawgrass
90. Golf balls travel significantly further on hot days. A golfer swinging a club at around 100 mph will carry the driver up to eight yards longer for each increase in air temperature of 25°F.
91. 80% of all golfers will never achieve a handicap of less than 18.
92. Oakland University’s Kassandra Komma scored two hole-in-ones in nine holes. The odds, one in 64 million.
93. If you walk round an 18 hole golf course, you’ll only walk roughly 4 miles and burn 2,000 calories.
94. If you ride around an 18 hole golf course on a golf cart you’ll burn around 1,300 calories.
95. It’s common for Japanese golfers to have insurance for getting a “hole-in-one”. Having made hole-in-one It’s customary to throw a party and present gifts to all your friends to share your good luck.
96. Johnny Weissmuller, famous for his role as Tarzan, was playing golf in Cuba during the Revolution when he was surrounded by a group of rebels. He immediately gave his trademark Tarzan yell. The soldiers recognized it and were so delighted to meet Tarzan that they escorted him to a safe area.
97. 16 year-old, Jeremy T. Brenno of Gloversville, hit a bench with his golf club in frustration after missing a shot and died when the club’s shaft broke, bounded back and pierced his heart. He was playing golf with his friends at Kingsboro Golf Club, the incident happened on the 6th hole.
98. Las Vegas’ Shadow Creek Golf Course is the United States’ most expensive public course at $500 for an 18 hole round.
99. The oldest known rules of golf were written in 1744 by an Edinburgh Golf Club.
100. South African golfer Gary Player wore a pair of trousers with one black leg and one white leg at the 1960 Open Championship in St Andrews to protest against Apartheid.