About Golf

By John Lindell

Golf course in sunset
Golf is a sport that traces it roots back into the Middle Ages. Golf is best described as a game in which a player attempts to hit a small ball around a course with specialized clubs into the holes on smooth grass surfaces in as few strokes as possible. Golf has evolved from its mysterious beginnings into a global sport. It is played on golf courses--open areas that are specifically designed and landscaped for the game, consisting of usually 18 holes but sometimes 9. Golf is played at an extremely high level by professional players, with the elite of the game competing in the Professional Golfers Association for top prize money.

Golf Courses

The birthplace of golf is believed to be Scotland but the actual origin of the game cannot be determined accurately. However Scotland did devise rules for the game and is home to the oldest known golf courses that are still in use today. The typical course today is made up of 18 holes, each with an area where the player "tees off," a term that describes putting the golf ball on a small piece of wood or plastic that keeps it elevated about an inch off the ground so the golf club can hit it cleanly. Holes have a fairway of manicured grass that lead to the putting green, where the grass is very short, allowing for the ball to roll on it unimpaired. The hole itself has a metal cup inside it that is built to support a flagstick, which allows the player to determine where the hole is as he hits his shots towards the green. There are various hazards on each hole such as sand bunkers, water in the form of streams, ponds, or lakes and high grass along the edges of the fairway called "rough." Trees, bushes, and other naturally occurring objects also are considered a type of hazard and make the golfer have to hit the ball where she aims it to be able to score effectively.


The object on each golf hole is to hit the ball from the tee and into the cup in as few shots as possible. Depending on how long the hole is, it is given a designation as a par three, four or five, with par simply being a predetermined amount of correctly struck shots that the golfer should be able to get the ball into the hole with. Shorter holes, normally within the range of 150 to 230 yards from the tee, are designated as par threes; the putting green can be reached with one shot and the typical golfer is expected to roll the ball into the hole using no more than two "putts," which accounts for the hole being a par three. Par four holes are longer, anywhere from 230 yards to around 450, with it taking two good shots to reach the green and then two putts to get the ball in the hole. Holes that are over 450 yards are usually par fives, with it taking three shots to make it to the green and then two putts to hole the ball. If a player scores one shot less than par on a hole it is called a birdie. A ball the goes into the hole on the first shot, which can occur normally only on a par three hole, is called a hole-in-one. The player that hits the ball into the hole with her second shot on a par four or five is said to have scored an "albatross," while those players that need one more shot than par to get the ball into the hole score a "bogey." Two shots over par is called a double bogey, three shots a triple bogey and so on. The total pars of all 18 holes of the golf course usually add up to between 70 and 73 strokes so any score less than that is called being under par and any over is termed as being over par.

General Information

Golf has intricate rules that depend on the player being honest and calling any infractions on himself during the course of play. Among the most basic rules of the sport are those that state you must play the ball from where it lies after a shot and that you may not alter hazards in any way to be able to get out of them with your ball more easily. Golf is played competitively in a number of ways, with most golf tournaments being decided by stroke play, which means the player that takes the fewest strokes to complete the designated number of holes is declared the winner. Most professional tournaments are 72 holes and played over four days. Match play is another form of golf in which two players or two teams of players square off against each other. Each hole is contested, with the player or team that scores lower on a hole being awarded the hole. If the hole is tied it is said to be "halved" and the player or team that wins the most holes during the round is the winner. The PGA tour operates professional tours in the U.S., with the top tour beginning in January and running through November.

About the Author

John has written thousands of articles for Demand Studios, Associated Content and The Greyhound Review. A Connecticut native, John has written extensively about sports, fishing, and nature.