Information about golf in America


When you decide to play a round of golf in the U.S. you are entering a culture which has grown and evolved throughout the 20th-century to take in almost every area of the nation. The U.S. is home to the three main styles of course including the links, parkland, and desert which can be found in various parts of the U.S. The history of the golfer in the U.S. dates back to the 19th-century with the sport finding its home in the nation following the opening of the first American golf course in 1893.

The history of golf in the U.S.

Golf became a popular sport in Scotland and across the U.K. in the 17th-century with its roots passing through Roman Italy and early Chinese dynasties. Some reports of groups of men playing a game known as "kolf" with a rustic golf ball in the early 19th-century were followed by the opening of the first North American golf course in Canada in 1873. The first golf club to open in the U.S. arrived two decades later with Illinois being the site of the first of thousands of golf courses to open in the U.S. in 1893.

The rise of the golfer in the U.S. was so fast that the first attempts to organize the game were taken by a group known as the United States Golf Association. In 1916, the Professional Golf Association of the United States was formed and would take control of the game and various golf courses across the nation. The golf ball was largely retired from public view following the First World War, the Great Depression, and World War II before the game would spring back into life in the 1950s.

Young caddies become players

The rise of the golfer in the United States moved through to the middle classes in the 1950s when caddies began to find success living the "American Dream." Prior to the 1950s, golf had been the domain of the upper classes with each golf club having strict rules on membership. For most working and middle-class individuals, the only time they would have access to a golf club was when working as a caddy when a child. This began to change in the 1950s when a period of success and affluence dribbled down to the middle-classes who decided to pick up the golf ball when they achieved success in remembrance of a love for the game forged as child caddies in earlier decades.

Golf courses may have been out of reach for most working Americans in the 1950s when the driving range became the home of the golfer who was living for the weekend when they could put into practice the hours spent forging the perfect swing. Floodlit driving ranges became the domain of the majority of golfers who would attend ranges as a family or on dates with their fellow golf enthusiasts.

The U.S. features most styles of golf courses

Much like the rise of golf courses in the U.K., the first locations identified were the natural links courses requiring very little architecture or manicuring to be playable for all. Links courses are among the most famous in the U.S. with American golf courses in this style including Pebble Beach in California and Myrtle Beach National designed by the iconic Arnold Palmer.

In the early days of both courses, the striking of a golf ball to the fairway required players to accept a European style of play with the rolling hills of the coast reflected on fairways and greens. The design of Myrtle Beach National reflects a classic links design with natural hazards making this a difficult course to play with difficult weather conditions to battle during almost every round.

Over the years, the changing environment of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has seen new hazards and a general redesign of the local courses bring a more parkland style to each game. You will no longer find a classic links design of golf courses in Myrtle Beach as trees have matured and been joined by water hazards which are more generally seen at classic parkland golf courses. America is home to many of the top golfers in the world and almost all the top tournaments. Parkland golf courses are the dominant design option in the 21st-century with the classic Bobby Jones designed Augusta National, home of The Masters' tournament beloved to the golf community around the world.

The advance of the golf community across the U.S. led to the development of new ways of designing golf courses across the nation. A golf club had to be designed to suit the needs of the people of the U.S. in whatever part of the nation they live in, meaning you can embark on a round with a fellow golfer in any of the desert states. Desert golf courses offer you the chance to strike a golf ball in parts of the nation where sand is the dominant feature of the landscape. You can find a golf club in the desert states where the lush green grass of the fairways and greens is surrounded by desert landscapes. Striking a golf ball high into the air makes desert golf courses a unique playing experience.

Tournaments in the U.S.

There is a wide range of tournaments available to the golfer hoping to make an impact on American soil. Just like you would playing in Europe or Asia, a golfer must have a handicap registered with the USGA or PGA to play a tournament on American golf courses. Almost every golf club in the U.S. will hold regular events where awards can be won and your handicap can be worked on in beautiful surroundings.

If you are a golfer who would like to watch the top players in the world strike a golf ball at a top golf club you must make the trip to America. It is easy to find a golf club featuring a professional tournament in the U.S. as over 10,000 courses are registered with the PGA and USGA across the nation.

Golf club culture in the U.S.

It is easy to find somewhere to hit a golf ball in the U.S. with most golf courses privately-owned and rounds needing to be booked in advance. Unlike the culture in the U.K., the U.S. golf club will usually have a large supply of carts reducing the amount of walking needed between each strike of the golf ball. Other differences between global golf culture and that in the U.S. is the differences in handicap scoring in the U.S. Players record every strike of the golf ball to set their handicap where competition scores are needed to register a handicap in the rest of the world. You can find a way of enjoying your career as a golfer in the U.S. with every golf club usually open to a visit from non-members.