What is the oldest golf course in the world

Golf is a sport steeped in history, and its origins can be traced back several centuries. One of the intriguing aspects of golf’s history is the question of which golf course is the oldest in the world. In this article, we will delve into the history of golf and explore the contenders for the title of the oldest golf course, shedding light on their origins and historical significance.

The Evolution of Golf

Before we identify the oldest golf course, it’s essential to understand the evolution of the game itself. Golf’s origins are often attributed to Scotland, where it began as a leisure activity among the Scottish elite in the 15th century. Initially, golf was played on natural landscapes, which gradually evolved into purpose-built golf courses.

The Old Course at St Andrews

One of the most famous and often recognized contenders for the title of the world’s oldest golf course is the Old Course at St Andrews. Located in St Andrews, Scotland, the Old Course has a rich history dating back to the 15th century. Records suggest that golf was played on these links as early as the 1400s. The course underwent various modifications over the centuries, contributing to its unique layout and reputation.

Musselburgh Links, The Old Golf Course

Another strong candidate for the title of the oldest golf course is Musselburgh Links, also known as the Old Golf Course. Situated near Edinburgh, Scotland, Musselburgh Links has historical records dating back to the 16th century. The course was used for the game of golf and even hosted the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, one of the oldest golf clubs in the world.

Perth Links

Perth Links, located in Perth, Scotland, is another contender for the title of the oldest golf course. Historical documents suggest that golf was played here in the early 16th century. While it may not be as well-known as St Andrews or Musselburgh Links, Perth Links plays an essential role in the historical narrative of golf’s origins.

The Debate Over the Oldest Golf Course

The determination of the world’s oldest golf course is a subject of debate among golf historians. The lack of comprehensive historical records from centuries ago makes it challenging to establish a definitive winner in this contest. Each of the mentioned courses lays claim to a storied past, with historical records that provide evidence of golf being played on their grounds.

Preservation of Golf’s Heritage

The preservation of these historic golf courses is crucial in maintaining the integrity of the sport’s heritage. Organizations, golf clubs, and local authorities have taken steps to ensure that these courses continue to be enjoyed by golfers and serve as reminders of the sport’s origins.

Challenges in Preserving Old Golf Courses

Preserving historic golf courses comes with its own set of challenges. Maintenance, course alterations to meet modern standards, and balancing the needs of contemporary golfers with the historical significance of the courses can be complex. Striking this balance is vital to ensuring that these links continue to be relevant and playable.

Historical Significance

The historical significance of these courses goes beyond their age. They are living testaments to the evolution of golf as a sport. Golfers can walk in the footsteps of their predecessors, imagining the challenges faced by early golfers as they navigated the same fairways and greens. The rich history of these courses adds depth and context to the sport, reminding us of its enduring appeal.

Oldest Golf Courses in the World

Course NameLocationYear EstablishedArchitectNotable Features
St. Andrews LinksSt. Andrews, Scotland1552UnknownThe Old Course
Musselburgh LinksMusselburgh, Scotland1672UnknownHistoric nine-hole course
Royal Blackheath Golf ClubLondon, England1608UnknownClaims to be oldest club
Royal Burgess Golfing Society of EdinburghEdinburgh, Scotland1735UnknownHistoric golfing society
Royal Aberdeen Golf ClubAberdeen, Scotland1780UnknownOne of Scotland’s oldest

Historic Golf Courses in the USA

Course NameLocationYear EstablishedArchitectNotable Features
Oakhurst LinksWhite Sulphur Springs, WV1884Russell MontagueOldest golf course in the USA
Newport Country ClubNewport, Rhode Island1893William F. DavisHistoric seaside course
Shinnecock Hills Golf ClubSouthampton, New York1891Willie DunnHosted multiple U.S. Opens
The Country ClubBrookline, Massachusetts1882Willie CampbellSite of the 1913 U.S. Open
Chicago Golf ClubWheaton, Illinois1892Charles Blair MacdonaldOne of the founding clubs

Oldest Golf Courses in Ireland

Course NameLocationYear EstablishedArchitectNotable Features
The Royal Curragh Golf ClubCounty Kildare1858UnknownHistoric Irish golf club
Portmarnock Golf ClubCounty Dublin1894George RossChampionship links course
Lahinch Golf ClubCounty Clare1892Old Tom MorrisScenic coastal layout
County Louth Golf ClubCounty Louth1892Tom SimpsonTraditional Irish links
Royal Portrush Golf ClubCounty Antrim1888Harry ColtHost of The Open Championship

Oldest Golf Courses in Australia

Course NameLocationYear EstablishedArchitectNotable Features
Royal Melbourne Golf ClubMelbourne, Victoria1891Alister MacKenzieConsistently ranked among the world’s best
New South Wales Golf ClubSydney, New South Wales1893UnknownSpectacular coastal setting
The Australian Golf ClubSydney, New South Wales1882UnknownHistoric club with championship pedigree
Royal Adelaide Golf ClubAdelaide, South Australia1892Cargie RymillClassic Australian links course
Royal Queensland Golf ClubBrisbane, Queensland1920UnknownOverlooks the Brisbane River

Historic Scottish Golf Courses

Course NameLocationYear EstablishedArchitectNotable Features
Prestwick Golf ClubPrestwick, Scotland1851Old Tom MorrisHosted the first Open Championship
MuirfieldGullane, Scotland1744Tom Morris Sr.Regular host of The Open Championship
Royal Dornoch Golf ClubDornoch, Scotland1877Old Tom MorrisBeautiful links course in the Highlands
North Berwick Golf ClubNorth Berwick, Scotland1832UnknownScenic coastal layout
Carnoustie Golf LinksCarnoustie, Scotland1842Allan RobertsonKnown for its challenging championship course


In conclusion, golf’s origins are deeply rooted in Scotland, and several golf courses can lay claim to being among the oldest in the world. The Old Course at St Andrews, Musselburgh Links, and Perth Links are among the top contenders for this prestigious title. While debates about which course is the absolute oldest persist, these courses collectively represent the rich history and heritage of the sport of golf. Golf enthusiasts and historians alike can appreciate the significance of these venerable links as they continue to shape the game we know today.

What is the oldest golf course in the world


  • Grace Kaufman

    Grace Kaufman, our Creative Director and a Golf Course Design Specialist, brings a touch of creativity and visual flair to The Golf Mine. With a keen eye for design and a deep understanding of course layout, she ensures that our content not only informs but also engages and inspires. Grace's innovative approach, combined with her specialization in golf course design, enhances the overall experience for our readers, making our blog more than just words on a screen.

Leave a Comment