The 1470 Act, in the reign of James III, again uses the spelling golf, but the 1491 Act, in the reign of James IV, spells it gouff; and variants such as gowf, gowff, gouf became the usual spellings during the Early Modern Period.
The Scottish National Dictionary states that "golf represents a revival of the Middle Scots form; Loudoun Gowf Club, Newmilns, retains the old form in its title"; i.e.
Around the same time, in 1552, John Hamilton the Archbishop of St Andrews granted the right of the people of St Andrews to play golf and gather turf on the links, retaining his rights to the rabbit warrens there.
In 1764, several of the holes were deemed too short, and therefore combined.
The number was thereby reduced from 11 to nine, so that a complete round of the links comprised 18 holes.
One thing is certain — the game of golf as we know it was born in Scotland". The highest concentrations are around Glasgow (94 courses) and Edinburgh (67 courses), since these two cities and their environs account for the bulk of the population.
But the other districts still average about 40 courses each. Such largesse is possible because Scotland boasts more courses per head of population than any other country.
The modern game was spread by Scots to the rest of the world.
The earliest reference to golf is the purchase of a set of golf clubs by James IV from a bowmaker of St Johnston (Perth) in 1502.Evidence has shown that golf was played on Musselburgh Links in 1672, although Mary, Queen of Scots reputedly played there even earlier in 1567.The parish register for neighbouring South Leith records the appearance of four parishioners before the kirk session on 7 December 1610 who "confessed they had prophaned the Sabbath be playing at the gowffe in tyme off preaching and thairfore was ordained to mak thair publict repentance the nixt Sabboth." Golf courses have not always consisted of eighteen holes.The St Andrews Links occupy a narrow strip of land along the sea-shore).As early as the 15th century, golfers at St Andrews established a trench through the undulating terrain, playing to holes whose locations were dictated by topography.Where he played is not known, but it is likely to have been on the open ground called the North Inch at Perth.