The history of golf dates back to the early days in the Ice Age when the cavemen were bored of chasing after mammoths and so crossed the ice floes to reach the part of the world where all the tasty (and easy to catch) cows and goats lived. Supposedly they were whacking at the head of a small prairie dog with their clubs in order to pass the time as they went, but this is myth only.
There have been earlier versions of the modern game of golf, such as a Dutch game that is depicted being played in 1297. The Chinese also had a game similar to golf, using clubs that looked suspiciously like the love child resulting from the mating of golf clubs and field hockey sticks. Some people believe that golf was brought to Europe by Mongolians.
However, the origins of the modern game of golf are in Scotland, which is first mentioned in 1457 when it was prohibited by the King of England (thus making it much more popular amongst the rebellious Scots). Mary Queen of Scots was accused by her enemies of playing the game (“Thou wast playing golf, you ninny!”), which was considered a bad idea for women (and still is).
Golf was repeatedly banned in the next century, but instructions for the game were written up by Thomas Kincaid. He was the first person to describe the golf handicap rule, and gives detailed descriptions of his stroke (“I took the stick and hit the ball!”)
Rules of golf were written up in 1744, and this rule book is still preserved in the National Library of Scotland. The first golf trophy ever won was given to a surgeon, John Rattray, and it had a silver, engraved ball attached to it. This started the tradition of giving trophies to the winners of golf tournaments. The winner was nearly hanged the following year for being part of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, but was saved by a fellow golfer and went on to win three more trophies.
Golf soon spread to England, where it was played by the Royal Family. By the time the 19th century rolled around, the Scottish and British were interacting much more and golf soon spread. It got as far as Singapore by 1891, and to the United States by 1894. The first golf club was opened in Japan in 1903, and it has continued to spread around the world since that day.
The evolution of the gear has also changed greatly since the sport began in Scotland, from the materials used for the clubs changing from hickory to steel to graphite. The club and ball size also changed, as well as the rules.