Richard Starnes in the Ottawa Citizen writes:
A leading academic says he has proof golf was played in China 500 years before it was first reported in Scotland, which is widely acknowledged as the game's home.
Professor Ling Hongling of Lanzhou University says he has unearthed clear references to golf in a book called the Dongzuan Records, which were compiled during the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279). There are even sketches.
Ling says the book also refers to a prominent Nantang Dynasty magistrate (AD 937-975) who told his daughter "to dig goals in the ground so that he might drive a ball into them with a purposely crafted stick." The fact the "sticks" were jewel-encrusted suggests the game was for the nobleman, not the commoner.
Jewel-encrusted sticks. A game for the nobleman. So now we know: blame the Chinese.
Thanks to reader Al for the heads up.