With a clearly defined history of its modern origins, the ancient ones are harder to define as many historians argue over a game played by the Romans that resembled the playing of golf that spread throughout much of the world as the Romans conquered new lands. Others argue that the Chinese are responsible for the early forms of golf with their own version of the club and ball game. Then, there are also the games played by the Persians as well as those in the Middle Ages by England and France.
While these games could have possibly led to the early forms within ancient times for the game of golf, its modern version has been traced back to the 15th century within the boundaries of Scotland. James II was actually responsible for banning the game because of its distracting qualities when citizens were meant to learn archery in the year of 1457. That ban lasted until 1502 when James IV became an avid admirer of the game, participating in the sport himself. He helped create the first golf clubs used for the sport in 1503 to 1504. St. Andrews is one of the pilgrimages that many golfers feel should be made as its Old Course is as the first links course used for the sport. St. Andrews saw some modifications made to the course in 1764, which lessened the number of holes from 22 to 18, creating the standard used today.
The oldest course that has been documented by the Guinness World Records is the one on Musselburgh Links, which is located in East Lothian, Scotland, in 1672. 1744 marks the year for the oldest set of rules that govern the sport, complied by the Company of Gentlemen Golfers, that were played in Leith. This company is eventually renamed The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. In the year of 1860, The Open Championship was first formed and played at the Prestwick Golf Club, making this tournament as the oldest golf competition in history, held in Ayrshire. John Reid and Robert Lockhart were the two Scottish players responsible for bringing the sport to the United States by demonstrating the game in 1888 and forming a golf club in Yonkers, New York.
As the game began to spread, so too did the rules of the game as they developed throughout history to the game we see televised today and/or play ourselves.