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Aside from being an international sporting phenomenon, golf is also one of the oldest sports in the world. Despite debates surrounding its original origin, the sport can be traced back to the 15 century which makes it older than tennis, rugby and cricket.
In fact, it's thanks in large part to this heritage that golf now holds a global appeal and is not only played by millions, but watched by millions more, through a combination of TV broadcasts and live online streams. To give you a greater insight into one of the oldest sports in the world, check out our complete guide to golf, its major tournaments and how modern technology has added a new layer of engagement with the sport.
The History of Golf
As we've mentioned, the actual origins of golf in terms of people using a club to hit a small ball towards a hole are unknown (some suggest it was an invention of the Ancient Romans); however, records do show that a variant of the modern game was first played in Scotland back in the 15th century. According to James II's banning orders, golf was outlawed in 1457 as it served as a distraction to those needing to learn the sport of archery (also a defensive technique).
However, following the ascension of James IV, the ban on golf was lifted in 1502 after he fell in love with the sport. Since then the game has maintained its royal connections and it's this association with the monarchy that allowed the game to flourish both in the UK and across the Empire.
By 1888 the game was firmly established in the UK and that led to the opening of the first golf course in the US: St Andrews Golf Club in Yonkers, New York. After hitting the mainstream in the US golf became a global game and by the 1900s it had become the game of choice among the gentleman elite.
Today the game still has an air of upper-class about it; however, thanks to the myriad of tournaments, TV coverage and amateur courses around the world, people from all walks of life now enjoy a competitive stroll around the links.
Major Golf Organisations
Like all major sports, golf has a number of governing bodies tasked with codifying, overseeing and regulating various competitions and leagues. From amateur governing bodies to professional organisations, golf has a number of bodies that ensure it remains a respected game at all levels.
The US Golf Association: Alongside the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, this body sets out the rules for golfers around the world. Additionally, it also serves as the governing body for golf in the US.
Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews: Like the US Golf Association, this organisation helps to define the rules by which professional golf is played around the world. It also oversees the sport in Great Britain.
PGA of America: America's and more-so the world’s leading professional golf tournament organisations; the PGA is at the head of many events around the world.
Royal Canadian Golf Association: The top amateur authority in Canada, this governing body helps organise tournaments, codify rules and set out playing policies.
English Golf Union: The EGU oversees amateur golf in England and sets out policies as well as looks after around 700,000 amateur club members.
Famous Golf Courses around the World
Aside from being sites where the greatest golfers in the world convene to prove their prowess with a club, major golf courses are impressive spectacles in their own right. Lush green grass undulating among picturesque scenery makes the best golf courses fantastic places for both playing and viewing some quality golf.
When it comes to the best golf course, the following locations are all known as leaders in their field:
The Old Course St Andrews: Active since pre-1574 and boasting a full 18-hole course since 1974, St Andrews is the proverbial home of golf and a place where legendary pros and aspiring amateurs dream of playing.
Pebble Beach: This Californian course provides one of the best climates for professional golfers and has hosted more than five US Opens since it was opened. Overlooked by the Pacific Ocean, Pebble Beach is a favourite of golfing icon Jack Nicklaus.
The Royal County Down Golf Club: Northern Ireland's leading course and one that poses a tough challenge for any player, the par for the championship is 71 and a total of 7,186 yards.
Royal Lytham & St Anne's Golf Club: Hosting more than ten Open Championships since it was officially opened in 1926, the course at Royal Lytham makes it one of England's leading venues. In fact, over the years, greats such as Ernie Els, Tony Jacklin and Seve Ballesteros have all tasted success here.
Professional Golf Tours
Within the golf world there are hundreds of professional and amateur tournaments on offer every year; however, when it comes to the most prestigious offerings in the sport it's the Majors that stand out. Taking place in the US and UK, the four major championships court the interest of millions every year and include: The Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
The Master - April
First on the annual calendar is the Masters. Teeing off in April each year, this event always takes place at Augusta in the US and features the best of the best from around the world. In fact, unlike the other Majors, the Masters is an invite only event which means the field is smaller than most.
The US Open - June
Following the conclusion of the Masters, the game's leading players then focus their attention on the US Open. Taking place – unsurprisingly - in the United States, this tournament is overseen by the US Golf Association which means it is held at a different venue from across the US each year. Because the tournament is open to any professional and amateur player the field is one of the largest in golf, but with a focus on accurate driving the route to victory is always tough – especially for a newcomer.
The British Open - July
Following June's PGA Open in the US, the action then moves across the Atlantic to the UK and St Andrews. This is the only major held outside of the US but is considered the most prestigious given its rich history, that stretches back to 1860. Thanks to the unpredictability of the weather in Scotland (even in July), the average par for this tournament is 72.
The PGA Championship - August
The final Major of the year takes places at a variety of elite venues in the US, such as Whistling Straits, and provides the season finale for leading pros. With a purse of $10 million+, the PGA Championship is the richest of the four Majors and is, therefore, the most hotly contested. Indeed, with an average par of 72 and many titles having to be decided by tie breaks, this is one of the toughest events on the annual calendar.
Betting on Golf
Thanks to the wealth of golfing action on offer almost every month of the year, the sport naturally lends itself to online betting. Moreover, because events often take days to complete there's a lot of scope for in-play betting which makes live streams, news updates and vital stats all the more important for anyone wishing to place a wager live or online.
Of course, the route to success is a tough one to negotiate; however, if you can keep in mind some simple tips it can be a lucrative market to get into.
The first thing you need to consider when sizing up which bets to place is an individual's recent form. Have they played well in their recent tournaments? Are they carrying an injury? Are they in the middle of a slump/winning streak? All these questions need to be answered before you decide to stake your money on a player.
On top of personal form, you need to assess the form of a golfer on the course in question. For example, the US Masters is a high profile tournament and one of the four major golf tournaments on the sporting calendar. In addition to this, the US Masters, unlike other major championships, is played at the same venue each year: Augusta National Golf Club. This means that certain players who have an affinity with this course will do well.
The size of the field should also be taken into consideration. The US Masters is an invitational tournament and is, therefore, a more select field so picking a winner is somewhat easier than it would be for the US Open.
Once you've narrowed down your selections to a number of worthy players based on their current form and previous course experience, you should continue to track them as the event unfolds. The early rounds of the tournament will often reveal which players are playing well and most likely to challenge for the title. Therefore, at this point, you should see which of your selections is playing well in the early stages and try your hand at some in-play bets.
Live Golf Streams
Naturally, running alongside this wealth of golf betting opportunities is a selection of HD live streams. Acting as the perfect partner for any sports bettor, the live golf streams hosted on PlayLiveStream.com will give you direct access to the best action for all the best players - regardless of when or where they're playing.
Not being restricted by TV licensing deals, scheduling slots and TV executive's whims is fantastic for those who want to watch the action without interruption or interference. In fact, when it comes to aiding your betting exploits or your engagement with sport in general, live online streams are the only way to enjoy the game without compromise.