Based on the size of the course with either 9 or 18 holes, the course has a specific layout that is unique to that club though the basics are set in place, such as a tee area, a fairway, some hazards, and the green where the hole is located. The tee area, the fairway, and the green are all given different levels of grass since the goal is to provide some difficulty for the player throughout the game. As the game moved from Scotland to the United States, the first golf course that opened in the United States is in Downers Grove, Illinois in 1892, developed on a sheep farm. It still exists today.
With either a course of 9 holes played twice or 18 holes played once, the goal is to keep the number of strokes to a minimum, making it into the hole below what’s known as the par of that hole. The layout of the course determines the order in which the holes are played as a round, a completion of the holes within a given order. The teeing ground is the start of the hole where a ball is placed on a tee and struck with a club, usually a driver. While a tee, or small peg, proves helpful, it’s not always required when first striking the ball from this area. Tees are helpful, especially for beginners, since it helps reduce the amount of interference from the grass and ground where the ball lays to give the ball more distance from the striking surface of the club.
A driver is used when the ball needs to travel some great distance of more than 225 yards since this stroke is usually called a drive. This shot is made typically from the teeing ground since it’s the farthest distance from the hole on the green. While the distance will vary among the holes on the course, the decision to use a driver or another club called an iron is purely up to the golfer and his/her preference upon facing that particular hole. The struck ball will eventually come to a stop upon the fairway where the golfer then strikes it again and again until the ball has reached the green.
The fairway is usually bordered by an area called the rough where the grass is the highest on the course, impeding the golfer’s chances of reaching the green in the least number of strokes. Other impediments include bunkers made of sand and even water obstacles like ponds or streams. Each of these impediments should be avoided whenever possible though some golfers will experience an unlucky streak and have their ball meet one of these obstacles. A skilled golfer can usually find a way out of these traps without costing too many extra strokes to their overall score.
With strict rules within a competition game, the ball is in play until the golfer puts it into the hole while other games have lesser restrictions, such as allowing for surrenders of the hole when the number of strokes borders on the excessive, or even in some cases, where the golfer has hit a triple bogey, a striking of the ball three more times than the par of that hole. A par is set for each hole based on the average number of strokes it should take to get the ball from the teeing ground to the hole. Most holes are typically between 3 and 5 in their par numbers.
With the length of some courses reaching over several thousand yards, most golfers will find that they can travel between their shots and the holes to keep their playing time and assists those with walking disabilities to play a whole round of golf through the use of a golf cart. Walking the course or riding a cart is up to the golfer and/or competition held on a specific course. Also, depending on the type of tournament, a caddy may be used to carry a player’s clubs though this is usually restricted to the professional levels. Caddies can work well for a player since caddies can provide advice to the players that they are assisting without the worry of them offering advice to other players within the competition.
With golf, the main principle of the game is that those playing adhere to fairness. They must also adhere to the established etiquette guidelines as laid out by the United States Golf Association and/or the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. These guidelines give explicit instructions to the players about matters of safety, fairness, pace, and obligations of the player to the course’s care and upkeep. While the penalties aren’t there for breaches of these guidelines, following them allows all competitors to enjoy playing the game within the tournament.
While there aren’t penalties for breaches in etiquette, there are penalties for breaches in the official rules of the game, which is usually in the form of extra strokes added to a player’s score. Such infractions include a lost ball or ball hit into an area outside the course’s boundaries. Others include hitting another player’s ball or ball movement made from something other than a club. While these penalties may not be seen as severe, there are ways to become disqualified include cheating or improper play of a golfer.
The equipment of a golfer includes his/hers most important asset: the clubs used to strike the ball. These clubs can be divided into three categories: woods, irons, and putters. Though there is also a fourth category where the hybrids are placed, a combination of the first two categories. Woods are the clubs typically used to gain larger distances while irons are found more often for shorter drives to get the ball onto the green. The putter is used once the ball reaches the green since it’s the shortest club in a golfer’s arsenal with its greatest control over the ball and the small distance the ball needs to travel to reach the hole.
With each of these clubs, a golfer can have any combination as long as the maximum number is 14. The clubs must meet the standards as outlined in the rules parameters within a competition. If the clubs don’t meet these standards, a golfer can be disqualified. While there are no restrictions based on the type of club used by the golfer at any point in the game, a skilled golfer will know what works best for him/her.
Along with the clubs a golfer uses, they can wear specific shoes with spikes on the soles to increase their traction on the course so they can achieve longer distances and more accurate drives and shots at the ball. The balls they use must also meet the requirements set by the rules with small spheres pockmarked with dimples across its surface, which allows it to travel farther upon the course.
With a combination of four types of strokes a golfer can make, the goal is score as few strokes as possible against the par set for that hole on the course. The names of the scores possible below any given hole’s par are condor, albatross, eagle, and birdie. Then, there’s par, a score that matches the number of strokes a player should make within a given hole. Finally, there are the scores over par, known as bogey, double bogey, and triple bogey. While the goal is to stay close to par, achieving birdies and eagles can help improve a player’s score though bogeys are typical within a round of golf due to a number of conditions affecting the strokes of a player. The types of swings used for a stroke can range from a full swing (drive), a ¾ swing (approach), a half swing (chip), and a putt. The decision of which swing depends on the player’s preference and the distance left until the player’s ball reaches the hole.
The players can decided upon the type of play they want when they aren’t in a competition set up by a club or organization. These plays include match play, stroke play, bogey competition, and team play among other variations. From choosing to play each hole separately or a round as a hole, the players can decide how to keep score and obtain bragging rights at the end of the 9 or 18 holes of a particular course.
Many players have a handicap with which they can adjust their overall scores based on this numerical measure. With a handicap, players can predict their overall success of playing a round on a course near the par level. Inexperienced players usually have higher handicaps compared to skilled players. While calculations of these handicaps is complex in nature, they are necessary for amateurs and experienced alike to create a forgiving zone as players move from one course to another since not all courses are created equal and neither are the players.