The game of golf is thought to have been introduced to Europe during the early Middle Ages, yet the modern game of golf began around the 15th century in Scotland. The first written record we have is of James II banning the game in 1457 because he believed it to be an annoying distraction to learning archery.
Yet despite his best efforts the game caught on and spread throughout most of the modern world. It was not until 1892, a relatively lengthy amount of time since 1457, that the first golf course opened in America in Downers Grove, Illinois. Yet even for the late start America would go on to dominate the sport.
Golf became more popular in America than any other country, mostly through the new burgeoning class of super-rich industrialists that emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries. It became a steeple of wealth and social class and rapidly spread throughout the country. Today there are 17,672 courses in America alone, far outdistancing the UK, which has 2,757, making it a close second with 8% of the world’s total courses.