Golfing History - Golf goes Overseas
The British Empire was at it's pinnacle during the 19th century. Indeed the phrase 'the sun never sets on the empire' was coined to reflect Britain's worldwide influence. Most of the early golf clubs outside the British Isles and America were formed throughout the Commonwealth.
The first golf club formed outside Scotland was Royal Blackheath (near London) in 1766. However golf is believed to have been played there since 1608. The first golf club outside Britain was the Bangalore, India (1820). Others were the Royal Calcutta (1829), Royal Bombay (1842), Royal Curragh, Ireland (1856), the Pau, France (1856), the Adelaide (1870), Royal Montreal (1873), Cape Town (1885), St Andrew's of New York (1888) and Royal Hong Kong (1889). Some say that the South Carolina Golf Club, Charlestown of 1786 precedes all of these.
The Victorian Industrial Revolution brought with it many social and economic changes. The growth of the railways gave birth to the mass tourism industry. For the first time, ordinary people could explore the country as day-trippers or weekend visitors. Golf clubs popped up all over the country and people could enjoy the challenge of playing a different one every weekend.
Hitherto golf equipment was handcrafted and therefore expensive. Golf was therefore the preserve of the affluent. Once metal club heads and shafts and gutta percha balls (1848) began rolling off the production lines, the average person was able to afford to play golf. Both of these factors directly contributed to the phenomenal growth of golf.