The exact origin of golf is shrouded in the gray reaches of history. Some historians believe it was founded in the Scottish shepherds' habit of hitting stones along the ground with their staffs to pass the time while the flocks grazed. Others think it was a sophisticated version of various stick-and-ball games played in medieval. Northern Europe. One such game, Het Kolven, was brought from the Netherlands to Scotland by Dutch traders who crossed the North Sea in the 12th century for the Senzie Fair of St. Andrews, some 300 years before the earliest recorded mention of golf in the mid-1400s.
However it began, golf as we know it today unquestionably was developed in Scotland by Scotsmen on seaside links land, including that which eventually became the most famous golf course in the world, The Old Course at St. Andrews.
Traditionally, golf is played on grass courses comprised of 18 separate and different holes; but the addictive nature of the game is so compelling that golfers construct or contrive courses wherever they find themselves: from sand courses in the desert areas of the Middle East and North Africa, to courses roughed out on ice and snow in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Where 18 holes are beyond reasonable attainment, courses are usually a standard nine holes, really 'half-courses.' It should be noted, however, that with golf courses, nine plus nine does not automatically equal 18: two separate sets of nine holes do not comprise a regulation 18-hole course.
"Gowff," as it once was called, has come a long way in the 400-odd years since Mary Queen of Scots gamboled at the pastoral pastime back around 1570, contributing royally and fashionably, if controversially, to the promotion of the game. Until about 1850, when James VI brought it to England as a "royal and ancient game," it was played mainly by Scots in Scotland. The British later carried it to the Continent and the colonies, and even to the penal settlements in Australia; wherever the British went, golf went. And so, eventually, it came to the Arab world.