Golf in Australia: From the Beginning

Golf in Australia: From the Beginning

Golf has a long, rich history and is enjoyed by men, women and even children. The introduction of golf in Australia dates back to the 1800’s. There are many conflicting stories about when the first game of golf was played.


It is said that golf first arrived in Australia in the 1830’s, introduced by a young pioneering family that migrated from Scotland. This family started a farm in Bothwell, Tasmania, Ratho Farm. It’s reported that Ratho Farm became the home of Australia’s first ever golf course and remains the oldest existing golf course outside of Scotland.


Another popular theory is that the first game of golf was played at Grouse Farm, New South Wales in 1839 as documented in the diary of Alexander Brodie Spark, a wealthy merchant at the time. Others suggest it was first played at the Flagstaff Hill Golf Club in Melbourne in 1847.


Regardless of where and when golf began in Australia, the popularity of golf took off quickly with golf courses popping up in New South Wales and Victoria at the time. Of course, now there are thousands of golf courses Australia-wide.


In 1898, the Australian Golf Union was established to help govern the growing number of clubs around Australia, but it wasn’t until 1901 that Australia started to establish some of it’s longest running associations and championships.


The first Men’s Australia Open was held in 1904 at The Australian Golf Club followed a year later by The Australian PGA Championship. While at this time, these championships were only open to men, women also took a keen interest in the sport and soon established their own groups and associations. The first women’s tournament, the ALPG has been operating since 1972.


In 2006 the Australian Golf Union and Women’s Golf Australia merged to form Golf Australia, the national sporting body that manages golf in Australia. Each Australian state has its own association.


Over the years, Australia has produced famous golfers such as Greg Norman, Aaron Baddeley and Kerrie Ann Webb who have been successful at an international level.


The popularity and quality of Australian golfers and golf courses has put Australia in great stead and as a result Australia has played host to prestigious international tournaments such as the 1998 Presidents Cup, the 2001 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the 2007 Lexus Cup, the 2011 and 2019 Presidents Cup and the 2013 World Cup of Golf.


These tournaments cement Australia’s place in the golfing world and bring renowned golfers such as Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Ernie Els among many others to Australia. While great for the Australian golf industry, it also gives Australian golf fans an opportunity to watch some of the best golfers in the world battle it out for these titles.


Today, golf is the number one participant sport in Australia with 1.3 million people playing the sport (approx. 10% of the population) and 460, 000 belonging to a golf club. Australia boasts over 1,600 golf courses.


There are many golf museums around Australia to visit and learn more about golf and its history in Australia.