Golf in America has been traced back as far as 1650, when Dutch residents of New York were recorded as playing colf; and 1743, when a consignment of 96 golf clubs and 432 balls was shipped from Leith, Scotland, to Charleston, South Carolina. There is general agreement, however, that the first permanent American golf association, the St. Andrew's Golf Club, was formed in Yonkers, New York, in 1888, by Scottish-born John Reid and his friends. Three years later, the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club opened on Long Island with a twelve-hole course for men designed by Scotsman Willie Dunn and a nine-hole course added soon thereafter for women. Graced by an elegant clubhouse designed by architect Stanford White and laid out on a rolling seaside tract reminiscent of true Scottish links, Shinnecock Hills has been recognized ever since as the first classic American golf course.
Other American golf clubs and courses were soon established. Sixteen golf courses had been created in the United States by 1893, eighty by 1896, and 982 by 1900, a number exceeding the total in all of the British Isles. Four decades later, the number of American courses had swelled still further to more than 4,500, and among them were famous names from Baltusrol and Pinehurst to Greenbrier and Pebble Beach. Some were private, some public, some open to women players and others restricted rigorously to white males only. Some courses were established by clubs whose sole interest was in providing a place to play golf, for example the site of the annual Master's golf tournament, the Augusta National Golf Club designed by Bobby Jones and Dr. Alister Mackenzie. Others, borrowing their name from The Country Club of Brookline, Massachusetts, were more broadly conceived "country clubs" offering members a complete range of sports that might include golf, tennis, swimming, riding to hounds, and polo along with the facilities of an exclusive private club available for weddings, parties, and other social occasions.