Below is an extract from USGA's website, section USGA Rules of Golf, Modernizing Golf Rules (1 March 2017).
A Brief History of Revisions to the Rules of Golf: 1744 to Present
(opening photo: golfers on Leith Links)
'While golf has been played for more than 600 years, the earliest known written rules for the game date from 1744. This early code of “Articles & Laws in Playing at Golf” (known today as the “13 Articles”) was drafted by The Gentlemen Golfers of Leith (later known as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers) for a single day of competition on the Leith links. Still, the principles represented in these 13 rules fundamentally describe the same sport that is played around the world today......These periodic fundamental reviews and their underlying motivations provide a useful framework for understanding how the Rules of Golf have developed and the context of the current Rules Modernization initiative. This paper examines this history by looking at five eras: 1744-1899, 1899-1934, 1934-1952, 1952-1984, and 1984-present...'
There follows USGA's reviews of each era - full details at USGA own website. 'A Brief History of Revisions to the Rules of Golf: 1744 to Present
(Our thanks to USGA for reproducing its content here.)