The US is the modern heartland of golf, with a rich history, some of the finest courses in the world and some 25 million players, around 8% of the total population. It is unclear precisely when Europeans brought the game here, but the first confirmed game was an 1888 exhibition played on three holes in Yonkers, NY, and the first club was founded before year's end, the Saint Andrew's Golf Club, which remains open to this day. By a quarter century later, the United States Golf Association had been established to coordinate activities among the nation's then 200-plus clubs, and over a thousand had been built by the time of the Great Depression. Growth resumed after World War II, with some 6000 clubs associated with the USGA in 1980. The number of courses peaked in the late 2000s and is now around 15,000, or some 45% of the world's total.
Growth in the game correlated with the development of tournament play. Of the four majors, three are played in the US: Augusta National hosts the Masters every year, while the PGA Championship and US Open move from venue to venue. Every major has its own history, and is overseen by its own organization. The Ryder Cup, a competition staged every two years that pits a European team against one from the US, has been held in the US quadrennially beginning in 1927, during which time it has grown to one of the top sporting events, with an estimated billion viewers, on the par with the NFL's Super Bowl, FIFA's World Cup and the Tour de France. Team USA holds the all-time lead, 25-13-2.
The US is home to as many of the best courses in the world as all other countries combined. From the aforementioned Augusta to Pebble Beach to Bandon Dunes, it is difficult to overestimate the number and quality of fantastic golf experiences to be had here. From the coasts to the mountains to the deserts, there is golf for every taste, skill level and season. Golfers can play every day for weeks in just South Carolina or Florida or California and not exhaust the possibilities.