How and when did golf originate?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
That's the million dollar question in our industry.
Many historians tie the origin of the game of golf back to the ancient Romans, or even the eighth-century Chinese. (Both had games that were similar, with a stick and ball). This is usually based on paintings or artwork showing people playing the game.
It is widely accepted that the MODERN game of golf originated in Scotland in the 1400s (or even a bit earlier). The first written record of golf was when James II banned the game as it was distracting to the soldiers who were supposed to be learning archery.
The number of holes varied -- a round of golf could be between 5 and 7 holes in the 1700s. St Andrews (The traditional HOME of golf) started with 12 holes, and golfers would play 10 of them twice, thus making 22 holes (many of St Andrews' holes have double/shared greens). This was shortened to 18 standard holes in 1858, which then became the standard.
It would be a massive undertaking to go any further, but this explains the basics in a nutshell.