Golf is one of the oldest sports in the world, with a history that dates back before professional football, rugby, and cricket. It is an individual sport played with a set of clubs and a ball. The object is easy: get the ball into the hole in as few shots as possible. And thanks to its handicap system, it’s also a sport that can be played across all skill levels, with players of lower skill levels not feeling as disadvantaged as they might in other sports. Modern golf is contested via several major golf tours, run either by the PGA or an independent organization. The PGA Tour is the biggest of these and also where you’ll find the best players and the biggest prizes. There are also four major tournaments that attract the best players and offer the most prestigious prizes. These tours are the US Open, the Open Championship (also known as the British Open), The Masters, and the PGA Championship. The US Open is generally considered to be the biggest of these. It was first held in 1895 and awards a prize fund of over $12 million, paid to the players who secure the best scores over 4 rounds of 18 holes.
Golf is one of several major global sports that originated in the United Kingdom. It is believed that the game was first played in Scotland in the 1400s, with the St Andrews course built several hundred years later. Scotland remains the ancestral home of this sport and is where some of its best tournaments are played. Scotland has also produced many top golfers over the years, although the same could be said for England and Ireland. Famous Scottish players include Sandy Lyle, who was actually broken in England but represented Scotland during his 32 wins on the PGA Tour, and Colin Montgomerie, who is one of the most successful players in the history of the European Tour. Nick Faldo is one of the greatest ever Englishmen, having spent 97 weeks at the top of the world rankings during the 90s, with several wins in the Masters and Open Championship. One of the current crops of players earning his place in the annuals of gold history is Rory MclIroy, who represents Northern Ireland. Known as “Wee Mac”, MclIroy has won each of the major championships, with his breakout win coming in 2011 when he won the US Open and began his legendary journey to the top.
The sport of golf is littered with many great moments, times when spectators held their breath, pinched themselves, and were reminded why they love the game so much. One such moment came in 1999, when Payne Stewart beat Phil Mickelson with a last-gasp par putt, winning his second US Open Championship just a few months before his tragic death in an airplane accident. Two years later, Tiger Woods became the first player to ever win four consecutive major championships, an astonishing feat that no one has matched and one that we may never see the likes of again. Tiger Woods has had an illustrious career and has won several more titles since this glorious achievement, but this grand slam, or “Tiger Slam” as it became known, is still one of the most memorable moments in his career. The Ryder Cup has also had its share of shocks and surprises. One of these came in 1999, when the US mounted a huge comeback to win, only for Europe to turn the tables on them in 2012 when they pulled off the same feat. Jordan Spieth’s masterclass at the Masters in 2015 is also up there with the best ever moments. He was just 22, but it was clear that he was going to grow into one of the greats.