The origins of golf are not very clear since there is no clear date as per which the origin of the game can be pinned down. Its origins and dates of being first played are highly debated even today but one fact that all agree to is that it was one of the popular family ball games that came up in medieval Europe. In fact, the variations found in golf as well as the developments made in the game to make it more of a professional and elite game came through in Scotland during the same period.
Later, the game spread from Scotland to the entire British Isles and from there to the rest of the European world. So, one might say that golf was a Scottish game because it spread from Scotland but it can never be claimed as a game which had its origins in that country since the history of its origin is very unclear. The United States of America entered the game as late as the nineteenth century although it is one of the most played games among the elite in the USA.
The first record of a golf-like game being played was made in the year 1297 in the Netherlands. This game was similar to golf in that it was played with one stick and one leather ball and the winner was one who could get the ball into a hole, marked at some distance, by the minimum number of strokes. Scholars are of the view that such a game existed in the Netherlands even during the seventeenth century and both of these dates predate that of golf being played in Scotland. Other scholars argue that in various centuries, in other countries of Europe, existence of a golf-like game could be proved and that all of these predate the dates of Scotland. So, Scotland falls in serious contention with all these other European countries.
In the year 2005 new evidence was discovered regarding the earliest dates of golf when documents were found which proved that even Chinese emperors played golf way before it came to Scotland. Golf was called chuiwan by the Chinese of that time and numerous paintings have been unearthed which depict the royal ladies and the emperor engaged in the game. In fact documents that have been found clearly show the elaborateness of the game like the presence of ten types of clubs for hitting the ball etc.
The eighteen hole game of golf, as we play it today, was developed in Scotland no matter wherever in the world the game had originated. The first written rules are from 1744 which can still be found today and they were developed for the Company of Gentlemen Golfers. In fact, they are the oldest recorded golf clubs of all time and the set of rules can now be found in the national library of Scotland. The first recorded winner of a golf game during the same time was a man named John Rattray.