G O L F I N G
Golf is a precision club and ball sport in which competing players (or golfers) use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course using the fewest number of strokes. Golf is defined, in the rules of golf, as “playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules.”
It is one of the few ball games that do not require a standardized playing area. Instead, the game is played on a course, in general consisting of an arranged progression of either nine or 18 holes. Each hole on the course must contain a tee box to start from, and a putting green containing the actual hole. There are various other standardized forms of terrain in between, such as the fairway, rough, and hazards, but each hole on a course, and indeed among virtually all courses, is unique in its specific layout and arrangement.
Golf competition is generally played for the lowest number of strokes by an individual, known simply as stroke play, or the lowest score on the most individual holes during a complete round by an individual or team, known as match play. Stroke play is the most commonly seen format at virtually all levels of play, although variations of match play, such as “skins” games, are also seen in televised events. Other forms of scoring also exist.
2 Golf course
3 Play of the game
4 Rules and regulations
6 Stroke mechanics
7 Scoring and handicapping
7.2 Basic forms of golf
7.2.1 Match play
7.2.2 Stroke play
7.3 Other forms of play
7.3.1 Bogey competition
7.3.5 Team play
22.214.171.124 Unofficial team variations
7.4 Handicap systems
8.1 Golf courses worldwide
9 Professional golf
9.2 Golf tours
9.3 Men’s major championships
9.4 Women’s major championships
9.5 Senior major championships
10 Other events
11 See also
13 External links
Main article: History of golf
While the modern game of golf originated in 15th-century Scotland, the game’s ancient origins are unclear and much debated. Some historians trace the sport back to the Roman game of paganica, in which participants used a bent stick to hit a stuffed leather ball. One theory asserts that paganica spread throughout Europe as the Romans conquered most of the continent, during the first century BC, and eventually evolved into the modern game. Others cite chuiwan (“chui” means striking and “wan” means small ball) as the progenitor, a Chinese game played between the eighth and 14th centuries. A Ming Dynasty scroll dating back to 1368 entitled “The Autumn Banquet” shows a member of the Chinese Imperial court swinging what appears to be a golf club at a small ball with the aim of sinking it into a hole. The game is thought to have been introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages. Another early game that resembled modern golf was known as cambuca in England and chambot in France. This game was, in turn, exported to the Low Countries, Germany, and England (where it was called pall-mall, pronounced “pell mell”). Some observers,[who?] however, believe that golf descended from the Persian game, chaugán. In addition, kolven (a game involving a ball and curved bats) was played annually in Loenen, Netherlands, beginning in 1297, to commemorate the capture of the assassin of Floris V, a year earlier.
The modern game originated in Scotland, where the first written record of golf is James II’s banning of the game in 1457, as an unwelcome distraction to learning archery. To many golfers, the Old Course at St Andrews, a links course dating to before 1574, is considered to be a site of pilgrimage. Golf is documented as being played on Musselburgh Links, East Lothian, Scotland as early as 2 March 1672, which is certified as the oldest golf course in the world by Guinness World Records. The oldest surviving rules of golf were compiled in March 1744 for the Company of Gentlemen Golfers, later renamed The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which was played at Leith, Scotland. The world’s oldest golf tournament in existence, and golf’s first major, is The Open Championship, which was first played on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Aerial view of the Golfplatz Wittenbeck in Mecklenburg, Germany
Main article: Golf course
A golf course consists of a series of holes, each with a teeing ground that is set off by two markers showing the bounds of the legal tee area, fairway, rough and other hazards, and the putting green surrounded by the fringe with the pin (normally a flagstick) and cup.
The levels of grass are varied to increase difficulty, or to allow for putting in the case of the green. While many holes are designed with a direct line-of-sight from the teeing area to the green, some holes may bend either to the left or to the right. This is commonly called a “dogleg”, in reference to a dog’s knee. The hole is called a “dogleg left” if the hole angles leftwards and “dogleg right” if it bends right. Sometimes, a hole’s direction may bend twice; this is called a “double dogleg”.
A typical golf course consists of 18 holes, but nine-hole courses are common and can be played twice through for a full round of 18 holes.
Early Scottish golf courses were primarily laid out on links land, soil-covered sand dunes directly inland from beaches. This gave rise to the term “golf links”, particularly applied to seaside courses and those built on naturally sandy soil inland.
The first 18-hole golf course in the United States was located on a sheep farm in Downers Grove, Illinois, in 1892. The course is still situated there today.
Play of the game
1=teeing ground, 2=water hazard, 3=rough, 4=out of bounds, 5=sand bunker, 6=water hazard, 7=fairway, 8=putting green, 9=flagstick, 10=hole
Every round of golf is based on playing a number of holes in a given order. A “round” typically consists of 18 holes that are played in the order determined by the course layout. On a standard course of 18 holes, each hole is played once in the round; on a nine-hole course, players may play a “short game” playing each hole once, or a “full round” by playing each hole twice.
Playing a hole on a golf course is initiated by putting a ball into play by striking it with a club on the teeing ground (also called the tee box, or simply the tee). For this first shot on each hole, it is allowed but not required for the golfer to place the ball on a tee prior to striking it. A tee in this last sense is a small peg that can be used to elevate the ball slightly above the ground up to a few centimetres high, which reduces the interference of the ground or grass on the movement of the club making the ball easier to hit, and also places the ball in the very center of the striking face of the club (the “sweet spot”) for better distance. Tees are commonly made of wood but may be constructed of any material, including plastic. Traditionally, golfers used mounds of sand to elevate the ball, and containers of sand were provided for the purpose. A few courses still require sand to be used instead of peg tees, to reduce litter and reduce damage to the teeing ground.
When the initial shot on a hole is intended to move the ball a long distance (typically more than 225 yards (206 m)), the shot is commonly called a “drive” and is generally made with a long-shafted, large-headed wood club called a “driver”. Shorter holes may be initiated with other clubs, such as higher-numbered woods or irons. Once the ball comes to rest, the golfer strikes it again as many times as necessary using shots that are variously known as a “lay-up”, an “approach”, a “pitch”, or a “chip”, until the ball reaches the green, where he or she then “putts” the ball into the hole (commonly called “sinking the putt” or “holing out”). The goal of getting the ball into the hole (“holing” the ball) in as few strokes as possible may be impeded by obstacles such as areas of longer grass called “rough” (usually found alongside fairways), which both slows any ball that contacts it and makes it harder to advance a ball that has stopped on it; “doglegs”, which are changes in the direction of the fairway that often require shorter shots to play around them; bunkers (or sand traps); and water hazards such as ponds or streams.
In stroke play competitions played according to strict rules, each player plays his or her ball until it is holed no matter how many strokes that may take, but in match play it is acceptable to simply pick up one’s ball and “surrender the hole” after enough strokes have been made by a player that it is mathematically impossible for the player to win the hole. It is also acceptable in informal stroke play to surrender the hole after hitting three strokes more than the “par” rating of the hole (a “triple bogey” – see below); while technically a violation of Rule 3-2, this practice speeds play as a courtesy to others, and avoids “runaway scores”, excessive frustration and injuries caused by overexertion.
Players can walk to their next shot or drive in golf carts over the course or along pathways beside it. The game can be played either individually or in groups and sometimes accompanied by caddies, who carry and manage the players’ equipment and who are allowed by the rules to give advice on the play of the course. A caddy’s advice can only be given to the player or players for whom the caddy is working, and not to competing players.
Rules and regulations
Main article: Rules of golf
Arnold Palmer in 1953
The rules of golf are internationally standardised and are jointly governed by The R&A, spun off in 2004 from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (founded 1754), and the United States Golf Association (USGA).
The underlying principle of the rules is fairness. As stated on the back cover of the official rule book:
Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.
There are strict regulations regarding the amateur status of golfers. Essentially, anybody who has ever received payment or compensation for giving instruction, or played golf for money, is not considered an amateur and may not participate in competitions limited solely to amateurs. However, amateur golfers may receive expenses that comply with strict guidelines and they may accept non-cash prizes within the limits established by the Rules of Amateur Status.
In addition to the officially printed rules, golfers also abide by a set of guidelines called golf etiquette. Etiquette guidelines cover matters such as safety, fairness, pace of play, and a player’s obligation to contribute to the care of the course. Though there are no penalties for breach of etiquette rules, players generally follow the rules of golf etiquette in an effort to improve everyone’s playing experience.
Main article: Penalty (golf)
Penalties are incurred in certain situations. They are counted towards a player’s score as if there were extra swing(s) at the ball. Strokes are added for rule infractions or for hitting one’s ball into an unplayable situation.
A lost ball or a ball hit out of bounds result in a penalty of one stroke and distance (Rule 27–1). A one-stroke penalty is assessed if a player’s equipment causes the ball to move or the removal of a loose impediment causes the ball to move (Rule 18–2). If a golfer makes a stroke at the wrong ball (Rule 19–2) or hits a fellow golfer’s ball with a putt (Rule 19–5), the player incurs a two-stroke penalty. Most rule infractions lead to stroke penalties but also can lead to disqualification. Disqualification could be from cheating, signing for a lower score, or from rule infractions that lead to improper play.
Main article: Golf equipment
A wood positioned ready to be swung and to strike a golf ball
Golf clubs are used to hit the golf ball. Each club is composed of a shaft with a lance (or “grip”) on the top end and a club head on the bottom. Long clubs, which have a lower amount of degreed loft, are those meant to propel the ball a comparatively longer distance, and short clubs a higher degree of loft and a comparatively shorter distance. Typically, the actual physical length of each club is longer or shorter, depending on the distance the club is intended to propel the ball.
Golf clubs have traditionally been arranged into three basic types. Woods are large-headed, long-shafted clubs meant to propel the ball a long distance from relatively “open” lies, such as the tee box and fairway. Of particular importance is the driver or “1-wood”, which is the lowest lofted wood club, and in modern times has become highly specialized for making extremely long-distance tee shots, up to 300 yards (270 m) or more in the hands of a professional golfer. Traditionally these clubs had heads made of a hardwood, hence the name, but virtually all modern woods are now made of metal such as titanium, or of composite materials. Irons are shorter-shafted clubs with a metal head primarily consisting of a flat, angled striking face. Traditionally the clubhead was forged from iron; modern iron clubheads are investment-cast from a steel alloy. Irons of varying loft are used for a variety of shots from virtually anywhere on the course, but most often for shorter-distance shots approaching the green, or to get the ball out of tricky lies such as sand traps. The third class is the putter, which evolved from the irons to create a low-lofted, balanced club designed to roll the ball along the green and into the hole. Putters are virtually always used on the green or in the surrounding rough/fringe. A fourth class, called hybrids, evolved as a cross between woods and irons, and are typically seen replacing the low-lofted irons with a club that provides similar distance, but a higher launch angle and a more forgiving nature.
A maximum of 14 clubs is allowed in a player’s bag at one time during a stipulated round. The choice of clubs is at the golfer’s discretion, although every club must be constructed in accordance with parameters outlined in the rules. (Clubs that meet these parameters are usually called “conforming”.) Violation of these rules can result in disqualification.
The exact shot hit at any given time on a golf course, and which club is used to accomplish the shot, are always completely at the discretion of the golfer; in other words, there is no restriction whatsoever on which club a golfer may or may not use at any time for any shot.
Golf balls are spherical, usually white (although other colors are allowed), and minutely pock-marked by dimples that decrease aerodynamic drag by increasing air turbulence around the ball in motion, which delays “boundary layer” separation and reduces the drag-inducing “wake” behind the ball, thereby allowing the ball to fly farther.
A tee is allowed only for the first stroke on each hole, unless the player must hit a provisional tee shot or replay his or her first shot from the tee.
Many golfers wear golf shoes with metal or plastic spikes designed to increase traction, thus allowing for longer and more accurate shots. A golf bag is used to transport golf clubs and the player’s other or personal equipment. Golf bags have several pockets designed for carrying equipment and supplies such as tees, balls, and gloves. Golf bags can be carried, pulled on a trolley or harnessed to a motorized golf cart during play. Golf bags have both a hand strap and shoulder strap for carrying, and sometimes have retractable legs that allow the bag to stand upright when at rest.
A golfer takes an approach shot on the fairway.
Main article: Golf stroke mechanics
Golfers start with the non-dominant side of the body facing the target. At address the body and club are positioned parallel to the target line. The feet are commonly shoulder-width apart for middle irons and putters, narrower for short irons and wider for long irons and woods. The ball is positioned in the centre of the player’s stance for short irons and putters, more to the front for middle irons and even more for long irons and woods. The golfer chooses a golf club, grip, and stroke appropriate to the distance:
The “drive” or “full swing” is used on the teeing ground and fairway, typically with a wood or long iron, to produce the maximum distance capable with the club.
The “approach” or “3/4 swing” is used in medium- and long-distance situations where an exact distance is preferable to maximum possible distance, such as to place the ball on the green or “lay up” in front of a hazard.
The “chip” or “half-swing” is used for relatively short-distance shots near the green, with high-lofted irons and wedges. The goal of the chip is to land the ball safely on the green, allowing it to roll out towards the hole. It can also be used from other places to accurately position the ball into a more advantageous lie.
The “putt” is used in short-distance shots on or near the green, typically made with the eponymous “putter”, although similar strokes can be made with medium to high-numbered irons to carry a short distance in the air and then roll (a “bump and run”). The goal of the putt is to put the ball in the hole, although a long-distance putt may be called a “lag” and is made with the primary intention of simply closing distance to the hole or otherwise placing the ball advantageously.
Having chosen a club and stroke to produce the desired distance, the player addresses the ball by taking their stance to the side of it and (except when the ball lies in a hazard) grounding the club behind the ball. The golfer then takes their backswing, rotating the club, their arms and their upper body away from the ball, and then begins their swing, bringing the clubhead back down and around to hit the ball. A proper golf swing is a complex combination of motions, and slight variations in posture or positioning can make a great deal of difference in how well the ball is hit and how straight it travels. The general goal of a player making a full swing is to propel the clubhead as fast as possible while maintaining a single “plane” of motion of the club and clubhead, to send the clubhead into the ball along the desired path of travel and with the clubhead also pointing that direction.
Accuracy and consistency is typically stressed over pure distance. A player with a straight drive that travels only 220 yards (200 m) will nevertheless be able to accurately place the ball into a favorable lie on the fairway, and can make up for the lesser distance of any given club by simply using “more club” (a lower loft) on their tee shot or on subsequent fairway and approach shots. However, a golfer with a drive that may go 280 yards (260 m) but often doesn’t fly straight will be less able to position their ball advantageously; the ball may “hook”, “pull”, “draw”, “fade”, “push” or “slice” off the intended line and land out of bounds or in the rough or hazards, and thus the player will require many more strokes to hole out.
A golf stroke uses muscles on core (especially erector spinae muscles and latissimus dorsi muscle when turning), hamstring, shoulder, and wrist. Stronger muscles on wrist can prevent wrists from being twisted at swings, while stronger shoulders increase the turning force. Weak wrists can also deliver the impacts to elbows and even neck and lead to injury of them. (When a muscle contracts, it pulls equally from both ends and, in order to have movement at only one end of the muscle, other muscles must come into play to stabilize the bone to which the other end of the muscle is attached.) Golf is a unilateral exercise that can break body balances, requiring exercises to keep the balance in muscles.
Scoring and handicapping
Main article: Par (score)
A par-3 hole in Phoenician Golf Club, Scottsdale, Arizona
A plaque indicating that this hole is a par-5 hole
A hole is classified by its par, meaning the number of strokes a skilled golfer should require to complete play of the hole. Par always includes a stroke for the tee shot and two putts, so the minimum par of any hole is 3, but pars of 4 and 5 strokes are common, and a few courses feature par-6 and even par-7 holes. Strokes other than the tee shot and putts are expected to be made from the fairway; for example, a skilled golfer expects to reach the green on a par-4 hole in two strokes—one from the tee (the “drive”) and another, second, stroke to the green (the “approach”)—and then roll the ball into the hole in two putts for par. Putting the ball on the green with two strokes remaining for putts is called making “green in regulation” or GIR.
The primary factor for classifying the par of a relatively straight, hazard-free hole is the distance from the tee to the green. A typical par-3 hole is less than 250 yards (225 m) in length, with a par-4 hole ranging between 251 and 475 yards (225–434 m), and a par-5 hole being longer than 475 yards (435 m). The rare par-6s can stretch well over 650 yards (595 m). These distances are based on the typical scratch golfer’s drive distance of between 240 and 280 yards (220 and 260 m); a green further than the average player’s drive will require additional shots from the fairway. However, other considerations must be taken into account; the key question is “how many strokes would a scratch golfer take to make the green by playing along the fairway?”. The grade of the land from the tee to the hole might increase or decrease the carry and rolling distance of shots as measured linearly along the ground. Sharp turns or hazards may require golfers to “lay up” on the fairway in order to change direction or hit over the hazard with their next shot. These design considerations will affect how even a scratch golfer would play the hole, irrespective of total distance from tee to green, and must be included in a determination of par. However, a par score never includes “expected” penalty strokes, as a scratch player is never “expected” to hit a ball into a water hazard or other unplayable situation. So, the placement of hazards only affect par when considering how a scratch golfer would avoid them.
Eighteen-hole courses typically total to an overall par score of 72 for a complete round; this would be four par-3, ten par-4, and four par-5 holes, though other combinations exist and are not less worthy than courses of par-72. Many major championships are contested on courses playing to a par of 70, 71, or 72 (typically reducing the number of par-4 holes for par-3s and trading distance for difficulty). Additionally, in some countries, courses are classified according to their play difficulty, which may be used to calculate a golfer’s playing handicap for a given course. Two par-72 courses may have different difficulties; the more difficult course will typically have distances in the upper end of each par rating, more hazards, narrower or “shallower” fairways, hillier or more uneven terrain, etc. which all make the course harder to play even when the basic par score determinants are the same.
Golf Getaways …
Whether you are new to the game or a reigning club champion, South Carolina is the place to tee-up. The Palmetto state has two noted “women-friendly” courses and is an excellent place to improve your game. Even better, there are a variety of golf schools throughout the state featuring programs tailored to women.
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