IT is known the world over that Scotland is the spiritual and cultural home of golf, where the game was first played in the 15th century.

Now experts have warned that climate change is threatening the very future of the sport in its homeland, where one in six courses are on the coast and that they are being battered by extreme weather.

Wetter winters and coastal erosion are placing them under a “very real threat”, according to a new report by the Climate Commission, which is backed by the sport’s UK governing body.

In the study, experts warn that rising sea levels could ultimately jeopardise all of the world’s coastal courses by 2100, with golf facing an uncertain long-term future due to an increase in unplayable holes, winter course closures and disruption to professional tournaments.

As well as erosion and the impact of intense storms, warmer autumns and winters will also cause damage and disease to grass and greens, it advises.

In the Greater Glasgow area alone, the report notes that there was a 20 per cent reduction in playing time on golf courses in 2016/2017 compared with 2006/2007.

Steve Isaac, director of golf course management at the R&A, said: “There is no question it is becoming a huge factor. I believe golf is more impacted by climate change than any other sport aside from skiing.

“We are feeling it now with increases in unplayable holes, winter course closures and disruption to professional tournaments. And the future threats are very real.”

Scottish Golf, the national governing body for the sport of golf in Scotland, said planning for the future is key.

Carolyn Hedley, the organisation’s Environment Manager, said: “The impact of climate change is a big challenge facing our golf clubs today. Many have been forced to adapt their course maintenance to provide firm, free draining surfaces and healthy turf. Some are also at risk of coastal erosion, flooding and other climate related problems.”

Figures show that a fifth of the Scottish shoreline is soft and at risk of erosion, threatening some of the country’s most prized land, structures and transport links.

Researchers on the Dynamic Coast project have already produced maps highlighting which areas of Scotland are most at risk from flooding and erosion.

Now, work is underway to create three-dimensional maps of key sites on the coast, including the “home of golf” St Andres in Fife and Montrose Bay, Angus, as well as the neolithic ruins at Skara Brae in Orkney.

The Climate Coalition, which is made up of groups ranging from the National Trust and the Women’s Institute to WWF, the RSPB, Greenpeace and Oxfam, is releasing the latest data as part of its Show The Love campaign, which celebrates things people love but that could be lost due to climate change.

Professor Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, said the UK had seen six of the seven wettest years on record since 2000 and record-breaking wet winters in 2014 and 2015.

He said: “That, combined with rising sea levels and increased storm surges, means that climate change is already affecting the historic game of golf in its birthplace.”

Elsewhere in the report, cricket is said to be facing “disruption at every level” of the game as a result of wetter winters and more intense summer downpours.

UK football is also affected, particularly at grassroots level, by adverse weather, while the Scottish skiing industry could collapse within 50 years as winters become too mild for regular snowfall.

And the impact on football is particularly acute at grassroots level, where the average club is losing five weeks every year to bad weather, the report said.