Millions of people love golf and have played the game for centuries. But even if you’re an avid golfer, chances are you don’t know a lot of these crazy golf facts.
From the history of the game, professional golf facts, amateur stats, and a lot more. Keep reading for some epic golf entertainment and random knowledge to drop during your next round of golf.
Let’s break all these golf facts into different categories to quickly learn more about this great game.
What makes golf so great is the rich history of the sport. It’s why we think it’s one of the best sports played of all time.
We’ve come a long way from playing golf on a sheep farm and now have 600 yard golf holes! Here are some golf facts relating to the history of the game.
Golf is Hundreds of Years Old
The history of golf varies between historians and sources. But most can agree that golf was invented in the 1400s in Scotland. No one knows who exactly invented the game, but whoever did, we thank them.
Eventually, St. Andrews became the first official course and is the oldest golf course. It’s now a bucket list golf course for the everyday person and still hosts a major tournament to this day (which is hard to believe based on its age). Even with the best equipment in the world, players still struggle with tough winds and weather at the home of golf.
Golf Was Banned
I bet you didn’t know that golf was once banned! Between the years of 1457-1744 the Scottish government banned the great game of golf because it was interfering with military training.
As someone who identifies as a “golf addict” I can 100% see how this is true. I’m sure a lot of significant others have banned golf as well! Luckily, they unbanned golf and made it the great game it is today.
Golf Balls Were Made of Feathers
Before Titleist became the “Number one ball in golf” players used very different equipment. The first golf balls and golf clubs were vastly different than today.
Players used wooden heads, wooden shafts, and golf balls were originally made of feathers. Could you imagine how hard the game was a few hundred years ago?
Modern golf balls now soar through the air with ease and make this game a lot easier. Paired with modern day golf clubs, the legends of the game would be rolling in their grave with how much equipment has advanced.
Women in Golf
While the sport is dominated by men, women have enjoyed the game for centuries too. The first women’s club was developed in Musselburgh, Scotland in 1867.
Mary Queen of Scots was the first woman to regularly play golf after playing during her childhood in France. Now, women’s golf is growing quickly with players at all levels.
Golf Tees Were Very Different
Golf tees are something that most golfers take for granted and don’t think twice about. Heck, now there are different types of tees like wooden, plastic, and even bristle tees.
But before the invention of a simply wooden tee, golfers would shape mounds of sand and place the ball on top. Think about the work that takes plus how hard it would be to make good contact with the ball?
The History of Yelling “FORE”
Have you ever wondered why we yell FORE vs. look out when you hit a ball toward someone else on the golf course? The reason we yell “FORE” if a golf ball is heading toward another player is because golf originally had “forecaddies.”
When players hit at the forecaddies back in the day they finally shortened it to fore. Now, it’s a part of the game that everyone seems to know. Click here to learn more about forecaddies in golf.
Professional Golf Facts
Now that you’ve learned about the background of this great game, let’s get into some of the best professional golf statistics.
Doug Ford is the Babe Ruth of Golf
Anytime you say, “I’m playing great golf” the Golf Gods seem to find you and quickly humble your game. But in 1957 Doug Ford boldly claimed he would win the event and even predicted his winning score of 282. That’s like Babe Ruth pointing to where he’d hit the iconic home run in 1932.
But the Golf Gods might have taken the week off because Doug went on to win the event. And did it with the exact score of 282, talk about a crazy golf fact!
Jack Nicklaus Has Won the Most Majors (18)
Each year professional golfers compete in four major championships; The Masters, The US Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. These are the big events that everyone looks forward to as each player takes a swing at history.
Jack Nicklaus has won more major championships than any other professional golfer with 18 titles. Not to mention he has come in second 19 times! Additionally, he won his final major at the age of 46 at the 1986 Masters.
Ben Hogan Defied the Odds
Ben Hogan is one of the greatest golfers of all time and started caddying/playing at 12 years old. But a turning point came in 1949 when he got into a terrible car accident causing tons of injuries. He left the hospital 59 days later and said he might never walk again, let alone play golf.
However, he defied the odds and 16 months after the accident won the US Open at Merion. Winning again in 1951 with a 32 on the back nine.
He retired with 64 tournament victories and nine professional major wins. He also wrote a book, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf which is still a top-selling book today. Many around golf thought Hogan found a secret to his golf swing he never shared with the public. We wrote an article on hogan’s secret here. Regardless if he had a secret or not, Hogan’s swing is at the top of the list of all time best.
Winning at Augusta is Hard
Winning a major championship is hard but winning a green jacket is one of the hardest things to do. The back nine at Augusta National has witnessed some of the worst meltdowns in the history of golf. So winning takes an insane amount of grit and you can play in the event for the rest of your life plus host the champions dinner the following year.
But winning it back to back is nearly impossible. Jack Nicklaus was the first player to successfully defend his title. Tiger joined him as the only other player to do so in 2001 and 2002.
Augusta is Golf
When it comes to playing golf in the United States, I think any golfer would argue that Augusta is the crown jewel. It’s so private that the club turns down billionaires if they don’t think they’re the right for the club. Even the members don’t play regularly as they are constantly updating the course for the Masters and making it look picturesque for TV.
If somehow you are ever offered an invitation to this course, go… I don’t care how much it costs or what plans you need to cancel. This place is golf paradise and a part of the iconic history of the sport.
Seve Ballesteros Won 90 Times
Seve was an iconic figure in the game of golf and made winning a part of his game. In fact, he won 90 times including five major championships.
The Ryder Cup is one of the greatest parts of golf. Every two years team USA takes on team Europe in an epic three-day battle. Here are some golf facts that go with this amazing tournament:
- The first Ryder Cup took place in 1927.
- The captain’s pick system was introduced in the 1970s.
- Sergio Garcia has the most points of any player with 28 ½.
- There were no Ryder Cups for 10 years due to two world wars.
- Phil Mickelson has the most Ryder Cup appearances (12) from 1995 to 2018.
- The Ryder Cup trophy is 17 inches high and nine inches in width (weigh four pounds).
- USA has 27 wins and Europe has 14 wins (the format changed in 1979 and Europe seems to be the favorite now)
Phil Mickelson is a Righty
Phil Mickelson (known as lefty) is actually right-handed. He learned the sport by mirroring his dad’s swing which accidentally led to playing golf as a lefty. This wasn’t easy as equipment was sparse for left-handed players and junior golfers at the time.
Tiger Woods Golf Facts
Tiger has such a storied career that he needs his own section. Otherwise, he could take the entire professional golf facts with his countless records. These Tiger Woods facts will blow your mind!
- His real name is Eldrick Tont Woods. Tiger came from his father who named his son because of a friend and fellow soldier Col. Vuong Dang Phong.
- He appeared on the Mike Douglas show at two years old (and hit some phenomenal shots).
- Tiger spent an insane 683 weeks as the number one player in the world, which is more than double Greg Norman.
- Tiger made his first hole in one at eight years old. Could you imagine?
- He completed the unofficial “Tiger slam” in 2000-2001. He had in possession of all four major championship trophies at once after winning the final three in 2000 and winning the 2001 Masters Championship at Augusta National.
- Tiger has won 15 major championships and is only second to Jack Nicklaus. It’s been his goal since he was kid to surpass Jack and the entire world thought it would happen. But a lot of injuries and an 11-year winless drought in the majors has made it quite unlikely.
- Tiger has won 82 professional tournaments and is currently tied with Sam Snead for the most victories ever. Here’s to hoping he can win at least one more despite a myriad of injuries he’s suffered in recent years.
While all the wins are amazing, I think the best statistic for Tiger is 142 consecutive cuts made from 1998-2005.That is absolutely amazing and a number I don’t think will ever be broken in the modern game. Bryon Nelson previously held the streak at 113 straight cuts made.
This number is shocking to me because some of the best golfers in the world miss the cut every week! Finally, don’t forget that Tiger’s winning percentage is also insane at roughly 22.9% – another record that is unlikely for anyone to ever break.
Amateur Golf Facts
Now that you’ve learned about all things professional golf, let’s get into some stats from the average golfer.
Average Golf Handicap
The average golf handicap for men is 14.2 and for women is 27.5 according to the USGA.
Average Golf Stats
Trackman, a top name in the golf industry, provided some interesting facts about the average male golfer. Check them out now:
- Average golfers are giving up 30 yards for not optimizing their swing
- 93.4 mph is the average driver club speed which correlates to 214 yards total distance
Walking is Great Exercise
If you’re up for walking a round of golf you’ll get some great exercise. The average full-length course is 4–5 miles (or more of walking).
According to Golf.com, the average number of calories burned while walking is 1,400! If you use a caddy instead of carrying yourself, expect to burn 800–900 calories. While cart golf burns 800–1300 calories depending on the player, course, etc.
Golfers Lose a Lot of Balls
As I’m sure you know, losing a golf ball sucks as it hurts your score and wallet. But have you ever wondered how many golf balls are lost each year?
According to multiple sources the average golfer loses 3-4 per round. Based on all the golf we play that equates to 420 million lost golf balls per year. Needless to say, I don’t think Titleist, Callaway or TaylorMade are leaving the golf ball market anytime soon.
Here are some tips to stop losing so many golf balls.
Island Greens Aren’t for Amateurs
One of the most iconic holes in the United States is #17 at TPC Sawgrass. The 16th is a great par 5, 17 is a par 3, and 18 is another epic hole. But #17 is so epic because it’s a true island green.
Even though it’s less than 140 yards, golfers struggle! It’s been reported that more than 125,000 golf balls are hit in the water every single year. Paired with the expensive green fees, this is a costly day for golfers but worth every penny.
Some Rounds of Golf Aren’t Cheap
Golf isn’t a cheap sport to begin with thanks to tee times, equipment, caddies, etc. But there are some golf courses that are next level expensive. According to Bleacher Report, these are the seven most expensive golf courses in the United States:
- Shadow Creek Golf Course ($750 – $1,000) = most expensive golf club
- TPC Sawgrass ($400-$840)
- Wynn Golf Club ($600-$650)
- Pebble Beach Golf Club ($595 – $640)
- Old White course at Greenbrier Resort ($365-$575)
- Trump National Doral ($495)
- Whistling Straits ($485)
Chipping and Putting is Hard
According to this Golf Monthly article, a typical 10 handicappers is more likely to leave it outside 20 feet than hit it inside 5 feet from only 15 yards away.
The same article found that 12 handicappers were more likely to 3-putt than hole out from 15-feet. Needless to say, make sure you’re spending plenty of time with your green reading and putting stroke to avoid three jacks.
Scratch Golf is Rare
Most golfers have a goal of shooting lower scores; whether that means break 100, 90, 80 etc. But a small percentage of golfers are able to become scratch golfers.
According to the USGA report from earlier, only about 2% of all golfers are a 0 handicap or better. Needless to say, it puts you in an elite category of golfers.
More Fun Facts About Golf
Need even more stats from this great game? Keep reading…
- Richard Lewis holds the record for most holes in a single year (11,000).
- The Le Mirage Golf Club in Quebec resembles an Arizona desert landscape thanks to thousands of Gramineae plants and makes for a great experience.
- South Florida golf courses are some of the best with options like Blue Monster at Doral, Heron Creek Golf Club, and more. Florida is a true golf heaven!
- New golf courses keep popping up and there are over 9,000 courses in the United States.
- The USGA defines a par 6 as a hole more than 670 yards for men and 570 yards for women.
- The world’s longest hole is almost 1,000 yards long in South Korea at Gunsan Country Club. It’s also a par 7 and the third hole of the day, quite a way to start the round.
- The longest putt made was 395 feet by Brett Stanford in Australia (watch the incredible feat on YouTube here). While Jack Nicklaus made an epic 110-foot putt as well.
- Most golf courses are a par 72 (compared to a 70, 71, or occasionally 73).
- Peru features the highest golf course in the world – La Paz Golf Club. It has an elevation of 9,863 feet and is a par 69.
- Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. used a 6-iron to played on the moon which might be the craziest golf fact ever. Imagine hitting a ball in outer space? It would be even better than qualifying for a PGA Tour event… We can only dream!
- You have a better chance of getting killed by a shark (1 in 350 million) compared to getting an albatross (double eagle) in a year.
- A condor is an ace on a par 5 which first occurred in 1962 when Larry Bruce did it on a 480 yard dogleg right par 5.
People Love Golf
According to the PGA, there are 450 million rounds of golf played in the US every year. This is roughly 25-30,000 rounds per course (and each course only reports 10–15 aces each year).
Hole in One Chances
Your chances of making an ace aren’t great!
So if you haven’t made one yet, don’t beat yourself up. But don’t forget the youngest golfer to record an ace was only five years old (Cosby Orr in 1975).
As stated on the PGA’s website, “According to the National Hole-in-One Registry, the odds of the average golfer making a hole-in-one are 12,500 to 1.”
To make the odds even less likely check out these statistics:
- A Tour player has a 3000 to 1 chance of an ace. While a low handicap golfer has a 5000 to 1 chance.
- Two players in the same foursome making an ace during a round is 17 million to one. So if your buddy dunks one on a par 3, don’t expect the magic to happen again that round.
- One player making a hole in one twice during the round has a 67 million to one chance!
- If you’re lucky enough to get two aces in your life, the average time between aces is 24 years!
Additionally, only 1-2% of golfers are good (or lucky enough) to get an ace each year.
Do you have more questions about the history of golf and other facts around this great game? If so, keep reading to learn more now.
What does golf stand for?
A running joke in the game is that the word golf stands for “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden” as it was originally a sport played by men. But this is not true and golf is not an acronym for anything.
According to the USGA, “It derives linguistically from the Dutch word ‘kolf’ or ‘kolve,’ meaning quite simply ‘club.’ In the Scottish dialect of the late 14th or early 15th century, the Dutch term became ‘goff’ or ‘gouff,’ and only later in the 16th century ‘golf.”
What is cool about golf?
Golf is cool because everyone starts at the same point and feels the same struggles. Whether you’re old or young, tall or short, everyone feels the challenges of this great game. Even the most competitive athletes in the world in other sports struggle in golf. This is why so many players get addicted to this great game as it tests your physical and mental skills.
When was golf invented?
Golf has quite a history and dates back to the 1400s and some think even before that. Plus, the sport was banned as it was a “distraction” as people played golf instead of attending military training.
There you have it, 50+ golf facts to learn more about this great game of golf. From the history of golf to Tiger Woods stats, there are so many great facts, records, and figures about this game.