There is no denying that golf has become an extremely popular game in Australia since it arrived here in the 19th Century. The British colonial routes of the country mean that we are intrinsically tied to the culture of the British Isles, and with that culture comes a proclivity for golf. Modern golf’s origins in Scotland resulted in the game being spread across the British Empire, and with thousands of golf courses here in Australia, there is no sign of its popularity going away any time soon.
Scotland’s role as the home of golf typically played a significant part in Australia’s own relationship with the game. It was a Scotsman named Alexander Reid who has been identified as playing the first recorded game of golf in Australia during the 1920s on his course in Bothwell, Tasmania. The first fully recorded game of golf was played in 1839 on Grose Farm, which is now a part of Sydney. Scottish influence in Australia continued when another Scotsman, James Graham, played a significant role in the foundation of a golf club on Flagstaff Hill (now Flagstaff Gardens) in 1847.
Things started getting serious for golf in Australia when the Melbourne Golf Club was founded in 1891, complete with its own clubhouse and membership.
The first serious competition was played in 1894, with the Victoria Ladies Championship. Subsequent competitions in the early 20th Century laid the foundations for the current competitive sphere in Australia, with competitors traveling from England, Scotland and elsewhere to play. The Australian Open is perhaps the most prestigious of these competitions and continues to play a large role in the world of golf today, both in Australia and further afield.
The Australian Golf Union was already a significant force at this time, having been founded in 1898, and it held the position of the foremost authority on Australian Golf for much of the 20th Century before eventually merging with Women’s Golf Australia in 2006 to form Golf Australia, the current governing body of golf in Australia.
Despite disruptions caused by the Second World War and contentious issues over the barring of women from the majority of Australian Golf Clubs until the post-war period, golf in Australia has maintained its popularity throughout the years of its history.