History of Golf

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A golf-like game is, apocryphally, recorded as taking place on 26 February 1297, in the Netherlands, in a city called Loenen aan de Vecht, where the Dutch played a game with a stick and leather ball. The winner was whoever hit the ball with the least number of strokes into a target several hundred yards away. Some scholars argue that this game of putting a small ball in a hole in the ground using golf clubs was also played in 17th century Netherlands and that this predates the game in Scotland. There are also other reports of earlier accounts of a golf-like game from continental Europe. In the 1261 Middle-Dutch manuscript of the Flemish poet Jacob van Maerlant's Boeck Merlijn mention is made of a ball game "mit ener coluen" (with a colf/kolf [club]). This is the earliest known mention in the Dutch language of the game of colf/kolf as played in the Low Countries.
In 1387, the regent of the county of Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut, Albrecht of Bavaria, sealed a charter for the city of Brielle (Den Briel), in which it was forbidden to play any game for money. One of the exceptions to this ordinance was “den bal mitter colven te slaen buten der veste” (to play the ball with a club outside the town walls) Two years later, in 1389, the regent Albrecht offered the citizens of Haarlem a field called ‘De Baen’ (the course) to be used exclusively for playing games – especially colf – because these were too dangerous within the city walls.In 1597 the crew of Willem Barentsz played "colf" during their stay at Nova Zembla, as recorded by Gerrit de Veer in his diary: (The 3rd of April the weather was nice and clear with a north-easterly wind and quiet, then we made a colf [club] to play colf with, and thus make our limbs more loose, for which we sought every means)
 
In April 2005, new evidence re-invigorated the debate concerning the origins of golf. Evidence unearthed by Prof. Ling Hongling of Lanzhou University suggests that a game similar to modern-day golf was played in China since Southern Tang Dynasty, 500 years before golf was first mentioned in Scotland. In this source, Dōngxun Records (Chinese: from the Song Dynasty (960–1279) describe a game called chuíwán and also includes drawings of the game. It was played with 10 clubs including a cuanbang, pubang, and shaobang, which are comparable to a driver, two-wood, and three-wood. Clubs were inlaid with jade and gold, suggesting chuíwán was for the wealthy. Chinese archive includes references to a Southern Tang official who asked his daughter to dig holes as a target. Ling suggested chuíwán was exported to Europe and then Scotland by Mongolian travellers in the late middle Ages.
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