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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Greg Norman on the 18th tee at St Andrews.
Greg Norman on the 18th tee at St Andrews.

Golf is a sport in which individual players or teams hit a ball into a hole using various clubs, and also is one of the few ball games that does not use a fixed standard playing area. It 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."

Golf is said to have originated in the Netherlands (see History below), but has been played for at least five centuries in the British Isles. Golf, in essentially the form we know today, has been played on Scotland's Musselburgh Links (today the world's oldest golf course) since 1672, while earlier versions of the game had been played in the British Isles and the low-countries of Northern Europe for several centuries before that. Although often viewed as an upperclass pastime, golf is an increasingly popular sport across all sections of society [citation needed].

Anatomy of a golf course

The famous 17th hole of the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course.
The famous 17th hole of the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course.
Tee for the first hole at The Links at Spanish Bay
Tee for the first hole at The Links at Spanish Bay

Golf is played on an area of land designated as the course. The course consists of a series of holes. A hole means both the hole in the ground into which the ball is played (also called the cup), as well as the total distance from the tee (a pre-determined area from where a ball is first hit) to the green (the low cut area surrounding the actual hole in the ground). Most golf courses consist of eighteen holes.

Teeing Ground

The first stroke on each hole is done from the Tee (officially, teeing ground), where the player can use a tee (a small wooden or plastic peg), which makes the tee shot easier. Before the modern tee came into use, early golfers often used a small pyramid of sand to hold the ball. Most courses offer a range of Tee boxes to play from, making the hole longer or shorter depending on which Tees the player starts at. Often, the different Tee boxes have names associated with degree of competence (e.g., Professional and Amateur Tees), or by sex and age (Men's, Ladies', Senior, etc.). In addition to a difference in distance, the different Tees may also eliminate or reduce the danger of some hazards for the "Forward" tees, such as water hazards. Teeing grounds on most golf courses are relatively flat, in order for the golfer to have a perfect lie for the first shot on a hole.

Fairway & Rough

After teeing off, a player hits the ball towards the green again from the position at which it came to rest, either from the fairway or from the rough. Playing the ball from the fairway is an advantage because the fairway grass is kept very short and even, allowing the player to cleanly strike the ball, while playing from the rough is a disadvantage because the grass in the rough is generally much longer.


Many holes include hazards, which may be of two types: water hazards (lakes, rivers, etc.) and bunkers. Special rules apply to playing balls that come to rest in a hazard. For example, in a hazard, a player must not touch the ground with his club before playing a ball, not even for a practice swing. A ball in any type of hazard may be played as it lies without penalty. If it cannot be played from the hazard for any reason, the ball may be hit from another location, generally with a penalty of one stroke. Exactly where the ball may be played outside a hazard is governed by strict rules. Bunkers (or sand traps) are hazards from which the ball is more difficult to play than from grass. As in a water hazard, a ball in a sand trap must be played without previously touching the sand with the club.

Bunkers at Filton Golf Club, Bristol, England
Bunkers at Filton Golf Club, Bristol, England

Putting Green

Once on the green, the ball is putted (struck with a flat faced club which makes the ball roll along the ground) towards the hole until the ball comes to rest in the cup. The grass of the putting green (or more commonly the green) is cut very short so that a ball can roll easily over distances of several yards. To putt means to play a stroke, usually but not always on the green, wherein the ball does not leave the ground. The direction of growth of individual blades of grass often affects the roll of a golf ball and is called the grain. The slope of the green, called the break, also affects the roll of the ball. The cup is always found within the green, and must have a diameter of 108 mm (4.25 in.) and a depth of at least 100 mm (3.94 in.). Its position on the green is not static and may be changed from day to day. The cup usually has a flag on a pole positioned in it so that it may be seen from some distance, but not necessarily from the tee. This flag and pole combination is often called the pin.

Putting greens are not of all the same quality. Generally, the finest quality greens are well kept so that a ball will roll smoothly over the closely mowed grass. Golfers describe a green as being "fast" if a light stroke of the ball allows it to roll a long distance. Conversely, a green is termed "slow" if a stronger stroke is required to roll the ball the required distance.

Out of Bounds

The borders of a course are marked as such, and beyond them is out of bounds, that is, ground from which a ball must not be played. If a golfer hits the ball out of the course, into the "out of bounds", he/she must hit a ball from the same position the last one was, with a penalty of one stroke.

Other Areas

Some areas on the course may be designated as ground under repair, or "G.U.R.". This is a part of the course where repairs are being made by greenkeepers, or there is damage to the course. A ball coming to rest in this spot may be lifted and then played from outside such ground without penalty. Certain man-made objects on the course are defined as obstructions (i.e. Distance posts, gardens etc.), and specific rules determine how a golfer may proceed when the play is impeded by these.

Practice Facilities

Practice range with 43 tees (20 covered)
Practice range with 43 tees (20 covered)

At most golf courses there are additional facilities that are not part of the course itself. Often there is a practice range or driving range, usually with practice greens, bunkers, and driving areas (where long shots can be practiced). Markers showing distances are usually included on a practice range to benefit the golfer. There may even be a practice course (which is often easier to play or shorter than other golf courses). A golf school is often associated with a course or club.


A hole is classified by its par. Par is the number of strokes that a skilled golfer should require to complete the hole. For example, a skilled golfer expects to reach the green on a par four hole in two strokes, one from the tee (his "drive"), another to the green (his "approach"), and then roll the ball into the hole with two putts. A golf hole is traditionally either a par three, four, or five. A few par six holes now exist, but will not be found on a traditional golf course.

The par of a hole is primarily, but not exclusively, determined by the distance from tee to green. A typical length for a par three hole is anywhere between 91 and 224 m (100 and 250 yds.), for a par four, between 225 and 434 m (251 and 475 yds.). Par five holes are typically at between 435 and 630 m (476 and 690 yds.), and untraditional par six holes are anything longer. It should be noted that these distances are not absolute rules. For example, it is possible that a 500 yard hole could be classed as a par four since the par for a hole is determined by its 'effective playing length.' If tee to green on a hole is predominantly downhill, it will play shorter than its physical length and may be given a lower par.

Many 18-hole courses have approximately four par-three, ten par-four, and four par-five 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 or 71, and it's not rare to find a worthy test (especially in the British Isles) playing to a par of 69 or lower. In many countries courses are classified by a course rating in addition to the course's par. This rating describes the difficulty of a course and may be used to calculate a golfer's playing handicap for that individual course (see golf handicap).

Play of the game

Every game 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 nine-hole course, a standard round consists of two successive nine-hole rounds. A hole of golf consists of hitting a ball from a tee on the teeing box (a marked area designated for the first shot of a hole, a tee shot), and once the ball comes to rest, striking it again. This process is repeated until the ball is in the cup. Once the ball is on the green (an area of finely cut grass) the ball is usually putted (hit along the ground) into the hole. The idea of resting the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible may be impeded by various hazards, such as bunkers and water hazards.

Players walk (or drive in motorized carts) over the course, either singly or in groups of two, three, or four, sometimes accompanied by caddies who carry and manage the players' equipment and give them advice. Each player plays a ball from the tee to the hole, except that in the mode of play called foursomes two teams of two players compete, and the members of each team alternate shots using only one ball until the ball is holed out. When all individual players or teams have brought a ball into play, the player or team whose ball is the farthest from the hole is next to play. In some team events a player whose ball is farther from the hole may ask his partner to play first. When all players of a group have completed the hole, the player or team with the best score on that hole has the honor, that is, the right to tee off first on the next tee.

Each player acts as marker for one other player in the group, that is, he or she records the score on a score card. In stroke play (see below), the score consists of the number of strokes played plus any penalty strokes incurred. Penalty strokes are not actually strokes but penalty points that are added to the score for violations of rules or utilizing relief procedures.


In every form of play, the goal is to play as few shots per round as possible. Scores for each hole can be described as follows:

The two basic forms of playing golf are match play and stroke play.

  • In match play, two players (or two teams) play every hole as a separate contest against each other. The party with the lower score wins that hole, or if the scores of both players or teams are equal the hole is "halved" (drawn). The game is won by the party that wins more holes than the other. In the case that one team or player has taken a lead that cannot be overcome in the number of holes remaining to be played, the match is deemed to be won by the party in the lead, and the remainder of the holes are not played. For example, if one party already has a lead of six holes, and only five holes remain to be played on the course, the match is over. At any given point, if the lead is equal to the number of holes remaining, the match is said to be "dormie", and is continued until the leader increases the lead by one hole, thereby winning the match, or until the match ends in a tie. When the game is tied after the predetermined number of holes have been played, it may be continued until one side takes a one-hole lead, and thereupon immediately wins by one hole.
  • In stroke play, every player (or team) counts the number of shots taken for the whole round or tournament to produce the total score, and the player with the lowest score wins. A variant of stroke play is Stableford scoring, where a number of points (two for the target score) are given for each hole, and the fewer shots taken, the more points obtained, so the aim is to have as many points as possible. Another variant of stroke play, the Modified Stableford method, awards points on each hole in relation to par and then adds the points over a round; for more details on this method, see the article on The INTERNATIONAL, a tournament that uses Modified Stableford scoring.

There are many variations of these basic principles, some of which are explicitly described in the "Rules of Golf" and are therefore regarded "official". "Official" forms of play are, among others, foursome and four-ball games.


One must pay certain fees to play on a golf course. There are two different fees; the range fee, which is for the practice range, and the green fee, which allows play on the course itself. For nearly all courses, the range fee is not a prerequisite to play the course.

The green fee may vary from the equivalent of a few dollars for communal courses in many countries, up to that of several hundred dollars for public courses. Many golf courses are not open to the public. These private golf clubs also have green fees, but in order to play, one generally must be invited by a member of the club. Discounts on fees may be offered for players starting their round late (on some courses, unusually early) in the day.

If the course has golf carts, there is usually a fee to use them. On some courses, walking is prohibited, and the cart fee is often included with the green fee. It is wise to ask if the green fee includes a cart, and if not, what the cart fee is, as well as whether a cart is required.

Team play

A foursome (defined in Rule 29) is played between two teams of two players each, in which each team has only one ball and players alternate playing it. For example, if players A and B form a team, A tees off on the first hole, B will play the second shot, A the third, and so on until the hole is finished. On the second hole, B will tee off (regardless who played the last putt on the first hole), then A plays the second shot, and so on. Foursomes can be played as match play or stroke play.

A four-ball (Rules 30 and 31) is also played between two teams of two players each, but every player plays his own ball and for each team, the lower score on each hole is counted. Four-balls can be played as match play or stroke play.

There are also popular unofficial variations on team play. In a scramble, or ambrose, each player in a team tees off on each hole, and the players decide which shot was best, Every player then plays his second shot from where the best ball has come to rest, and the procedure is repeated until the hole is finished. In best ball, each player plays the hole as normal, but the lowest score of all the players on the team counts as the team's score.

In a greensome, also called modified alternate shot, both players tee off, and then pick the best shot as in a scramble. The player who did not shoot the best first shot plays the second shot. The play then alternates as in a foursome.

There is also a form of starting called "shotgun," which is mainly used for tournament play. A "shotgun" start consists of groups starting at different tees, allowing for all players to start and end their round at the same time.

Handicap systems

Main article: Golf handicap

A handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur golfer's ability to play golf over 18 holes. The 2 main formulas used in the game are stroke play (also known as brutto or medal) and match play. The Stroke play formula is an individual way of playing the game as you are competing against the par of the course by striking the ball the closest to the it. The Stroke play formula is simply the sum of strokes player shoot over 18 holes and compares it to the par (or the sum of a theoretical number of strokes per hole added up over 18 holes). The difference between your number of strokes and the par determines your handicap. The match play formula is a game during which two players play against each other. In other words, your score per hole depends on the other player's score. This formula was - and still is - very much appreciated by golfers as the state of mind is totally different from a stroke play game, during which the golfer has to 'secure' each and single of his shots in order to play the lower score (number of strokes) possible over 18 holes. In the contrary, the match play rule will allow the player to approach the course in a more aggressive manner in order to win the hole against his opponent. e.g. P1 plays 4 and P2 plays 5: P1 wins the hole and current score on the tee number 2 would be '1 up'. If P2 would like to mention the status of the score, he would say: '1 down' (each player announces his position towards the game).

The so-called "net" score is a formula commonly preferred by players from different proficiency to play against each other on equal terms. Good Ones handicap is subtracted from their round score thus making a game even between two players. e.g. player 1's round score: 90 handicap: 20 / the course's par: 70 / Player 2's round score: 100 handicap: 30 overall (par): 70. a players handicap determines the quality of their game making a player with a lower handicap better than one with a higher handicap. However, in practice, motivated and ambitious high handicap players strive to lower their handicaps and thus the current official one they show on their cards might not be their real current level, which consequently might put them in a favourable position when playing 'net' formula games.

Handicaps are complicated, but essentially are the average over par of a number of previous rounds, adjusted for course difficulty. Legislations regarding the calculation of handicaps differs among countries and sometimes becomes so complicated that a golfer's handicap might not always mirror his real level of play. For example, Swiss handicap rules include the difficulty of the course the golfer is player on by taking into consideration factors such as the number of bunkers, the length of the course, the difficulty and slopes of the greens, the width of the fairways, and so on.

Handicap systems are not used in professional golf. Professional golfers typically score several strokes below par for a round thus have a handicap of 0 subtracting 0 from their round score.

Golf rules and other regulations

The rules of golf [1] [2] are internationally standardised and are jointly governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A), which was founded 1754 and the United States Golf Association (USGA). By agreement with the R&A, USGA jurisdiction on the enforcement and interpretation of the rules is limited to the United States and Mexico. Canada has the separate Royal Canadian Golf Association, but generally follows the lead of the two larger bodies in the rules of golf continue to evolve, amended versions of the rule book are usually published and made effective in a four year cycle.

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 can't do either, do what is fair". Some rules state that:

  • every player is entitled and obliged to play the ball from the position where it has come to rest after a stroke, unless a rule allows or demands otherwise (Rule 13-1)
  • a player must not accept assistance in making a stroke (Rule 14-2)
  • the condition of the ground or other parts of the course may not be altered to gain an advantage, except in some cases defined in the rules
  • a ball may only be replaced by another during play of a hole if it is destroyed (Rule 5-3), lost (Rule 27-1), or unplayable (Rule 28), or at some other time permitted by the Rules. The player may always substitute balls between the play of two holes.

The Decisions on the Rules of Golf are based on formal case decisions by the R&A and USGA and are revised and updated every other year.

There are strict regulations regarding the amateur status of golfers [3]. Essentially, everybody 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. Non-cash prizes won in a competition may be accepted 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, easiness and 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.

Strandhill Golf Club in Ireland is an example of a coastal links course.
Strandhill Golf Club in Ireland is an example of a coastal links course.

Golf course architecture and design

While no two courses are alike, many can be classified into one of the following broad categories:

  • Links courses: the most traditional type of golf course, of which some centuries-old examples have survived in the British isles. Located in coastal areas, on sandy soil, often amid dunes, with few artificial water hazards and few if any trees. Traditional links courses, such as The Old Course at St. Andrews or Machrihanish, are built on "land reclaimed from the sea," land that was once underwater. Linksland is sometimes said to "link" the beach to the arable land; however, the more likely etymology is from the Middle English for "hill." [4] It was historically suitable primarily for grazing sheep.
  • Parkland courses: typical inland courses, often resembling traditional British parks, with lawn-like fairways and many trees.
  • Heathland – a more open, less-manicured inland course often featuring gorse and heather and typically less wooded than “parkland” courses. Examples include Woodhall Spa in England and Gleneagles in Scotland.
  • Desert courses: a rather recent invention, popular in Australia, parts of the USA and in the Middle East. Desert courses require heavy irrigation for maintenance of the turf, leading to concerns about the ecological consequences of excessive water consumption. A desert course also violates the widely accepted principle of golf course architecture that an aesthetically pleasing course should require minimal alteration of the existing landscape. Nevertheless, many players enjoy the unique experience of playing golf in the desert.
  • Browns courses: Akin to sand courses (see below), but much more involved in terms of using layers of tar and gravel below the sandy surface layer, to give firmness and support and ensure a consistent bounce/roll. Common in arid parts of the Indian Subcontinent. The world's highest course of any type is a 9-hole browns course in Leh, Ladakh (J&K), maintained by the Indian Army. It is at 11,600 feet. Being beyond the Great Himalaya in an extension of the arid Tibetan Plateau, the region lies in a rain shadow, which would make a greens course impossible to water. Mixed courses that have both brown and green holes are called 'browns-greens' courses; e.g., the green and the central fairway may be grass, but the tee and rough would be brown.
  • Sand courses: instead of a heavily irrigated 'green', the players play on sand; holes are less 'involved' than browns courses (see above), and are for the casual golfer.
  • Snow courses: another rather recent invention; golf being played on snow, typically with an orange colored or another brightly colored ball. Can be played in Arctic or subarctic regions during winter.
  • Par 3 courses: The course consists entirely of holes with Par 3. These are considered a good test of iron shot precision and short game, as the driver is rarely used.
  • Executive courses: A course which generally is smaller than the typical 18-hole course, designed to cater to the fast-paced, executive lifestyle.

In the United States design varies widely, with courses such as the entirely artificial Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, where a course complete with waterfalls was created in the desert, and on the other end of the spectrum, Rustic Canyon outside of Los Angeles, which was created with a minimal amount of earth moving resulting in an affordable daily green fee and a more natural experience.

Hitting a golf ball

To hit the ball, the club is swung at the motionless ball on the ground (or wherever it has come to rest) from a side stance. Many golf shots make the ball travel through the air (carry) and roll out for some more distance (roll).

Every shot is a compromise between length and precision, as long shots are generally less precise than short ones. Obviously, a longer shot may result in a better score if it helps reduce the total number of strokes for a given hole, but the benefit may be more than outweighed by additional strokes or penalties if a ball is lost, out of bounds, or comes to rest on difficult ground. Therefore, a skilled golfer must assess the quality of his or her shots in a particular situation in order to judge whether the possible benefits of aggressive play are worth the risks.

Types of shots

  • A tee shot is the first shot played from a teeing ground. It is often made with a driver (that is, a 1-wood) off a tee for long holes, or with an iron on shorter holes. Traditionally a tee shot will ideally have a rather shallow flight and long roll of the ball, while tee shots on short holes are flighted higher and are expected to stop quickly. However newer research is swaying the opinion of most golf professionals to be the contrary of that belief. Recent improvements in golf equipment and ball technology has changed the optimum launch conditions to a higher launch angle and lower spin rate.
  • A fairway shot is similar to a drive when done with a fairway wood. If accuracy and distance control are required, irons are usually played from the fairway. Irons or wedges are often used when playing from the rough. A tee may not be used once the ball has been brought into play. Hence, playing from the fairway may be more difficult depending on how the ball lies. A clean downward strike is required to "pinch" the ball against the turf in order to get the ball airborne. Mis-hits from the fairway include thin shots, also known as "skulls", and fat shots, also known as "chunks". Thin shots are characterized by striking the middle of the ball, while fat shots occur when the club strikes the turf behind the ball.
  • A bunker shot is played when the ball is in a bunker (sand trap). It resembles a pitch and is played with a "sand wedge". The sand wedge is designed with a wider base allowing the club to skid in the sand. The bunker shot differs from other golf shots in that the ball is not touched by the clubhead, but is lifted together with an amount of sand.
  • Punch/Knockdown/Stinger: a low shot that carries through the air in order to clear a low hanging tree branch or sometimes high winds. This shot is usually played with a long iron (3, 4 or 5 iron), but if needed, a shorter iron may be used.
  • On the green, a putter is used to putt the ball. The ball rolls on the ground, ideally never becoming air-borne.

An approach shot is played into the green from outside the green, usually over an intermediate or short distance. Types of approach shots are:

  • Pitch: an approach shot from anywhere between 30m and 90m from the green that flies the ball onto or near the green. Depending upon conditions (wind, firmness of fairway and green and/or contour of the green) a skilled player may hit a high, soft landing shot with little roll or a low running shot attempting to keep the ball in the air as much as possible. Depending upon the way the ball is struck, this shot may roll out, stop or even spin backwards towards the player. Pitch shots are usually hit with any club from a six iron to a lob wedge.
  • Flop: an even higher approach shot that stops shortly after it hits the ground. It is used when a player must play over an obstacle to the green. It is usually played with a sand wedge or a lob wedge, with the face laid wide open. This shot has been popularized by golfer Phil Mickelson.
  • Chip: a low approach shot where the ball makes a shallow flight and then rolls out on the green. Chips are made with a less lofted club than the "pitch" shot or "lob" shot in order to produce the desired flatter trajectory.

Poor shots

There are several possible causes of poor shots, such as poor alignment of the club, wrong direction of swing, and off-center hits where the clubhead rotates around the ball at impact. Many of these troubles are aggravated with the "longer" clubs and higher speed of swing. Furthermore, the absolute effect of a deviation will increase with a longer shot compared with a short one.

For many people who play golf, the number and variety of poor shots is larger than they would like. Consequently, many, many words have been found to describe the shots--some of them are quite colorful. Some of the more common terms for the poor shots are explained below:

  • Hook : The ball flight curves sharply to the left for a right-handed player (to the right for left-handed players). A severe hook is commonly called a Duck-Hook or a Snap hook.
  • Slice : The ball curves sharply to the right for a right-handed player (to the left for left-handed players). For beginning golfers this is the typical outcome of most shots. A severe slice is commonly referred to as a Banana-Slice or a Banana-Ball.
  • Pull : For a right-handed player the ball is 'pulled' across the body and flies to the left of the intended target without curvature (the ball flies to the right for left-handed players). A Pull-Hook indicates that the ball started out left of target and curved even further to the left. A Pull-Slice means the ball starts out left then curves back to the right.
  • Push : The opposite of a Pull, where the ball is 'pushed' away from the body. The ball flies to the right of the intended target for right-handed players (to the left for left-handed players). A Push-Slice indicates that the ball started out right of target and curved even further to the right. A Push-Hook means the ball starts out right then curves back to the left.
  • Shank : The ball is struck by the hosel or the outer edge of the club rather than the clubface and shoots sharply to the right for a right-handed player.
  • Thin or Blade or Skull : The ball is struck with the bottom edge of the club and not its face. This may damage the surface of a golf ball with a soft cover material, and may result in a stinging sensation in one's hands on a cold day.
  • Fat : A fat shot occurs when the club strikes the ground before the ball. A large divot is usually produced along with a clubface covered in the divot.
  • Top : The topside of the ball is struck with the blade of the club. The result usually consists of the ball rolling forward on the ground with much topspin.
  • Sky Ball or Pop-Up : The opposite of a Top. This occurs most frequently when teeing the ball up too high, though sometimes a Sky Ball will occur when the ball is sitting on top of long blades of grass and the club has space to pass under the ball. The top side of the club strikes the bottom side of the ball and forces the ball higher into the air than desired. A true sky ball occurs when the ball travels farther vertically than it does horizontally.
  • Double-Hit : Hitting the ball twice in one swing. This occurs most often in chipping or pitching, and is extremely rare in any other kind of shot. This is commonly referred to as a T.C. Chen, named for the Taiwanese golfer who lead the 1985 U.S. Open by 5 shots on Sunday, wherein he double-hit a chip on the fifth hole and made an eight, costing him the championship.
  • Flyer : This type of shot usually occurs when playing from deep rough. Grass blades come between the club face and the ball, preventing the grooves of the club from imparting maximum backspin on the ball. This loss of lift from backspin will typically cause a lower, longer shot than a cleanly contacted shot. The resulting flight of the ball is that the target is overshot by 10 or more yards and the ball does not stop as quickly on the green.
  • Hood : Somewhere during the swing the clubface becomes more perpendicular to the ground, or angled more toward the golfer. The clubface may strike the ground first or get caught up in heavy rough. This results in the ball flying lower to the ground than intended and usually resulting in a Pull as well.
  • Worm burner, Groundhog Killer or Sally Gunnel : The ball is hit extremely low to the ground, or bounces rapidly across the ground, essentially "burning up worms" or hitting groundhogs as it speeds along.
  • Chili Dip : A common miscue while chipping where the ball is flubbed only a few feet forward. Sometimes referred to as a Chunk.
  • Fried Egg: This situation occurs when the ball lands in a sand bunker and does not move from its landing spot. A small crater, or frying pan, encircles the "egg" (golf ball), and makes the next shot a difficult one. This is more commonly known as "plugged".
  • Foot Wedge : An illegal act of literally kicking one's ball to a better location. The character Judge Smails uses this technique In the movie Caddyshack.
  • Whiff: Missing the ball completely after stepping up to hit counts as a stroke. Usually results in a form of embarrassment, followed by another shot. May be referred to as Practice Swing.
  • Iron Hooker: Holding the club too far forward causing a flicking action which results in a major hook.
  • Gunnell: A Gunnell is a low shot where the club face makes contact with the top of the ball. Shots that go ¾ distance in this manner are usually referred to as a 'Gunnell', or 'A runner, but not a looker'. The expression originated in England, and is a reference to former Olympic sprinter Sally Gunnell
  • Lateral: also known as a shank, occurs when the ball is hit off the hosel resulting in a shot that travels more laterally than forward.

The golf swing

Tiger Woods displaying the textbook position (course: St Andrews).
Tiger Woods displaying the textbook position (course: St Andrews).

Putts and short chips are ideally played without much movement of the body, but most other golf shots are played using variants of the full golf swing. The full golf swing itself is used in tee and fairway shots.

A full swing is a complex rotation of the body aimed at accelerating the club head to a great speed. For a right-handed golfer, it consists of a backswing to the right, a downswing to the left (in which the ball is hit), and a follow through. At address, the player stands with the left shoulder and hip pointing in the intended direction of ball flight, with the ball before the feet. The club is held with both hands (right below left for right-handed players), the clubhead resting on the ground behind the ball, hips and knees somewhat flexed, and the arms hanging from the shoulders. The backswing is a rotation to the right, consisting of a shifting of the player's body weight to the right side, a turning of the pelvis and shoulders, lifting of the arms and flexing of the elbows and wrists. At the end of the backswing the hands are above the right shoulder, with the club pointing more or less in the intended direction of ball flight. The downswing is roughly a backswing reversed. After the ball is hit, the follow-through stage consists of a continued rotation to the left. At the end of the swing, the weight has shifted almost entirely to the left foot, the body is fully turned to the left and the hands are above the left shoulder with the club hanging down over the players' back.

The full golf swing is an unnatural, highly complex motion and notoriously difficult to learn. It is not uncommon for beginners to spend several months practising the very basics before playing their first ball on a course. It is usually very difficult to acquire a stable and successful swing without professional instruction and even highly skilled golfers may continue to take golf lessons for many years. One can also purchase or use a new golf simulator that can cost upwards of $50,000.

Relatively few golfers play left-handed (i.e., swing back to the left and forward to the right), with even players who are strongly left-handed in their daily life preferring the right-handed golf swing. In the past, this may have been due to the difficulty of finding left-handed golf clubs. Today, more manufacturers provide left-handed versions of their club lines, and the clubs are more readily purchased from mail-order and Internet catalogues, as well as golf stores. A golfer who plays right-handed, but holds the club left-hand-below-right is said to be "cack-handed". It is difficult to obtain the same consistency and power with this arrangement as is possible with conventional technique.

Besides the physical part, the mental aspect contributes to the difficulty of the golf swing. Golfers play against the course, not each other directly, and hit a stationary object, not one put into motion by an opponent. This means that there is never anyone to blame but oneself for a bad result, and in most competitive formats there are no teammates to directly help one out. Knowledge of this creates a great deal of psychological pressure on the golfer; this pressure exists at all levels of play. Even the best professional golfers sometimes succumb to this pressure, such as getting the "yips" (an infamous affliction of Bernhard Langer) a severe putting disorder caused by uncontrolled muscle spasms of the arms, resulting in a jerking motion during the follow through of the putt causing the ball to go much farther than desired, or having collapses of their full swing (as with Ian Baker-Finch).

A golf ball acquires spin when it is hit. Backspin is imparted for almost every shot due to the golf club's loft (i.e., angle between the clubface and a vertical plane). A spinning ball deforms the flow of air around it [5] similar to an airplane wing; a back-spinning ball therefore experiences an upward force which makes it fly higher and longer than a ball without spin. The amount of backspin also influences the behavior of a ball when it impacts the ground. A ball with little backspin will usually roll out for a few yards/meters while a ball with more backspin may not roll at all, even backwards. Sidespin occurs when the clubface is not aligned perpendicularly to the plane of swing. Sidespin makes the ball curve left or right: a curve to the left is a draw, and to the right a fade (for right-handed players). Accomplished golfers purposely use sidespin to steer their ball around obstacles or towards the safe side of fairways and greens. But because it's sometimes difficult to control or predict the amount of sidespin, balls may take an undesirable trajectory, such as hook to the left, or slice to the right (for right-handed players).


Main article: Golf club (equipment)

Below is a summary of the main features of golf equipment.

Golf clubs

 A golfer uses his Putter from just off the 18th green at Medinah Country Club in Illinois, USA.
A golfer uses his Putter from just off the 18th green at Medinah Country Club in Illinois, USA.

A player usually carries several clubs during the game (but no more than fourteen, the limit defined by the rules). There are three major types of clubs, known as woods, irons, and putters. Wedges are irons used to play shorter shots. Woods are played for long shots from the tee or fairway, and occasionally rough, while irons are for precision shots from fairways as well as from the rough. A new type of wood known as a "hybrid" combines the straight-hitting characteristics of irons with the easy-to-hit-in-the-air characteristics of higher-lofted woods. A "hybrid" is often used for long shots from difficult rough. Hybrids are also used by players who have a difficult time getting the ball airborne with long irons. Wedges are played from difficult ground such as sand or the rough and for approach shots to the green. Putters are mostly played on the green, but can also be useful when playing from bunkers or for some approach shots.

Golf balls

Main article: Golf ball
Golfball with a tough rubber core (with 1 Euro coin for size reference)
Golfball with a tough rubber core (with 1 Euro coin for size reference)

The minimum allowed diameter of a golf ball is 42.67mm and its mass may not exceed 45.93g. Modern golf balls have a two-, three-, or four-layer design constructed from various synthetic materials. The surface usually has a pattern of 300-400 dimples designed to improve the ball's aerodynamics. The method of construction and materials used greatly affect the ball's playing characteristics such as distance, trajectory, spin and feel. Harder materials, such as Surlyn, usually result in the ball's traveling longer distances, while softer covers, such as Balata, tend to generate higher spin, more "feel" and greater stopping potential. Golf balls are separated into three groups depending on their construction: two-, three-, or four-piece covers. Generally four-piece golf balls tend to be the most expensive, though price is no assurance of quality. As of 2006 there are golf balls that utilize RFID technology, which allow golfers to locate errant shots easily using a handheld homing device.

Golf shafts

Golf shafts are used between the grip and the club head. The profile of the golf shaft is circlular in shape and is usually thicker at the grip end than at the club head end. Any strong and light material may be used to make the golf shaft. Almost all shafts today are made of either graphite or tempered steel, although other materials either have been used (the first shafts were made from hickory wood) or have been tried (like titanium and aluminum). The tapering of the shaft is important to some players - the shaft can be smoothly tapered or it can be tapered in steps.

The rules of golf allow the shaft of the putter to be bent in some specific ways, but all the other club shafts must be straight.

Other equipment

Golf tees, used to prop up the ball
Golf tees, used to prop up the ball

Sometimes transport is by special golf carts. Clubs and other equipment are carried in golf bags. Golf buggies are trolley-like items designed to carry such a bag, allowing the golfer to drag his or her bag around the course, rather than carrying it on their back.

Golfers wear special shoes with exchangeable spikes (or small plastic claws termed soft spikes) attached to the soles, designed to increase grip on greens or in general wet conditions.

Golfers also often wear gloves that help grip the club and prevent blistering. This, however is not always necessary, as at the end of all clubs lies a grip, which is designed to do the same thing.

Golf tees resemble nails with a small cup on the head and are usually made of wood or plastic. A tee is an object (wooden or plastic) that is pushed into the ground to rest a ball on top of for an easier shot; however, this is only allowed for the first stroke (tee shot or drive) of each hole (There is also a variation of the tee which rsembles the egular form, which the point cut off. This is used when teeing off with irons).

When on the green, the ball may be picked up to be cleaned or if it is in the way of an opponent's putting line; its position must then be marked using a ball marker (usually a flat, round piece of plastic or a coin).

A ball mark repair tool (or pitchfork) is used to repair a ball mark (depression in the green where a ball has hit the ground). Some tees contain such a tool at the end, for pure convenience when on the green. To repair a ball mark, one pushes the tool under the mark, and lifts upwards gently, loosening the compacted turf to allow rapid regrowth of grass, and then flattens the ballmark with the golf shoe. Scores are recorded on a score card during the round.


See also Timeline of golf history 1353-1850, Timeline of golf history 1851-1945, Timeline of golf history 1945-1999 and Timeline of golf (2000-present).

The origin of golf is open to debate among Chinese, Dutch and Scottish. Golf was mentioned on February 26 in the year 1297 for the first time in the Netherlands in a city called Loenen aan de Vecht. Here the Dutch played a game with a stick and leather ball. Whoever hit the ball in a target several hundreds of meters away the least number of times, won.

The Scots however regard golf to be a Scottish invention, as the game was supposedly mentioned in two 15th-century laws prohibiting the playing of the game of "gowf". Scholars, however, suggest that this refers to another game which is much akin to shinty or hurling, or to modern field hockey rather than golf. They point out that a game of putting a small ball in a hole in the ground using golf clubs was played in 17th-century Netherlands rather than Scotland. This is backed up by the fact that the term golf is an alteration of Dutch "kolf" meaning "stick, "club" and "bat". [6]

The oldest playing golf course in the world is The Old Links at Musselburgh. Evidence has shown that golf was played on Musselburgh Links in 1672 although Mary, Queen of Scots reputedly played there in 1567.

Golf courses have not always had eighteen holes. The St Andrews Links occupy a narrow strip of land along the sea. As early as the 15th century, golfers at St. Andrews established a customary route through the undulating terrain, playing to holes whose locations were dictated by topography. The course that emerged featured eleven holes, laid out end to end from the clubhouse to the far end of the property. One played the holes out, turned around, and played the holes in, for a total of 22 holes. In 1764, several of the holes were deemed too short, and were therefore combined. The number was thereby reduced from 11 to nine, so that a complete round of the links comprised 18 holes.

The major changes in equipment since the 19th century have been better mowers, especially for the greens, better golf ball designs, using rubber and man-made materials since about 1900, and the introduction of the metal shaft beginning in the 1930s. Also in the 1930s the wooden golf tee was invented. In the 1970s the use of metal to replace wood heads began, and shafts made of graphite composite materials were introduced in the 1980s.

Ming Emperor Xuande putting for a par?
Ming Emperor Xuande putting for a par?

In January 2006, new evidence re-invigorated the debate concerning the origins of golf. Recent evidence unearthed by Prof. Ling Hongling of Lanzhou University suggests that a game similar to modern-day golf was played in China since Southern Tang Dynasty, 500 years before golf was first mentioned in Scotland.[7]

Dongxuan Records (Chinese:東軒錄) from the Song Dynasty describe a game called chuiwan (捶丸) and also include drawings.[8] It was played with 10 clubs including a cuanbang, pubang, and shaobang, which are comparable to a driver, two-wood, and three-wood. Clubs were inlaid with jade and gold, suggesting golf was for the wealthy. Chinese archive includes references to a Southern Tang official who asked his daughter to dig holes as a target.[9] Ling suggested golf was exported to Europe and then Scotland by Mongolian travellers in the late Middle Ages.[10]

A spokesman for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, one of the oldest Scotland golf organization, said "Stick and ball games have been around for many centuries, but golf as we know it today, played over 18 holes, clearly originated in Scotland." [11] [12]

Social aspects of golf

In the United States, golf is the unofficial sport of the business world. It is often said that board meetings merely confirm decisions that are actually made on the golf course. For this reason, the successful conduct of business golf (which extends beyond merely knowing the game) is considered a useful business skill; various schools, including prestigious universities such as Stanford University, have started both undergraduate and graduate-level courses that teach "business golf". The PGA of America, an organization separate from the PGA Tour, helps to sponsor these programs at universities nationwide.

The 19th Hole is a common reference to having a drink in the clubhouse following a round of golf. Often, this is where wagers are tallied and paid out.

Cost to play

The cost of an average round of golf in the United States is USD $36 [13], and the sport is regularly enjoyed by over 26 million Americans and many more world-wide. Most regions of the U.S. feature public courses which strive to be affordable for the average golfer. Excepting public courses subsidized by local governments ("municipal courses"), green fees tend to be lower in areas of inexpensive real estate, especially the American South and Midwest. Michigan has more courses open to the public than any other U.S. state [14].

By contrast, green fees are more expensive, sometimes dramatically so, in more urban areas with high real estate values. Also, greens fees at some of the more picturesque and prestigious courses can be quite sizeable. Despite golf's popularity in densely populated East Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan, the citizen of average means is limited to hitting balls on driving ranges as play on an actual course requires memberships priced at several times the average worker's annual salary.

The fact that golf tends to be a sport associated with wealthy businesspeople and professionals (doctors playing golf on Wednesdays, corporate golf days, etc), not to mention the high prices and wealthy clientele that can afford to pay to join elite country clubs, contribute to the perception that golf is expensive. By contrast, there is no other single sport that might be compared to golf as a sport for affluent people. (Hunting may be on par, so to speak, as the sport of business in the American south, but golf is still pervasive in the south. Hunting is common in the American north and midwest, but is less prevalent as a business sport -- golf remains the standard).

To compare golf against other sports is to quantify what makes it more expensive:

  • Golf is not a game in which equipment can be comfortably shared. By comparison, 22 people can share one soccer ball and 10 people can share one basketball. Buying or even renting an entire set of golf clubs immediately becomes more expensive.
  • Playing golf requires paying greens fees to enter a golf course. By comparison, playing soccer or touch-football or basketball at a school field or public playground is free of cost.
  • Exposure to golf is also not as accessible as other sports. For example, many children will play baseball, hockey, American football or soccer in school or youth programs, and the equipment is provided (often for a registration fee that has been subsidized or sponsored privately). However, few high schools or youth programs offer a golf program where kids can be exposed to and learn the game at a relatively cheaper price. Those that do usually provide access to a golf course with unlimited access.
  • Comparing golf to other individual (rather than team) sports, golf is still more expensive. One racquet for a racquet sport (tennis, squash, racquetball) is still much cheaper than a set of clubs, and registration at a racquet club or even a local YMCA for a month can be cheaper than one day at the golf course. Moreover, kids can borrow an old racquet and hit a ball against a school wall for free. It is difficult for a golfer to practice hitting shots longer than short pitch shots unless one pays to play golf or pays to practice at a driving range or indoor golf training facility.

Further, the social status of better (and usually more expensive) equipment cannot be overlooked. Few will notice or care the condition of a baseball glove as long as it can catch a baseball adequately. Similarly, as long as a basketball has enough air to bounce evenly, its brand name and condition are mostly irrelevant. Yet, in order to be outfitted with the latest golf equipment, including rather expensive clothing, shoes and gloves, one can end up spending quite a sum. Because golf has become the platform through which business people interact, evaluate each other, and generally talk/negotiate, the game presents opportunties from which commerce emerges through the development of personal relationships.

Cost of maintenance

The maintenance and upkeep of a golf course demands significant expense. The sheer size of a golf course (on average, 75 acres) demands no small amount of crew and equipment. But, not just any crew or any equipment - specialized groundskeepers and specialized equipment must be used to maintain a stimulating and beautiful tee, fairway, green, as well as bunkers, water hazards, etc.

Public outdoor tennis courts also require fees which are allocated in part to maintenance and upkeep. However, unlike a tennis or basketball court, grass on a golf course continues to grow, as do weeds, trees, etc, which must be continually and regularly trimmed and kept in order to maintain a clean course. Also, families of local fauna must be kept in check, because while squirrels and foxes can make for picturesque scenes, skunks and raccoons can't be permitted to take up residence.

Quality grasses, soils, flora, and a high degree of ever-changing technology requires that a golf club can't really "go cheap" and expect to remain profitable.

World popularity

In 2005 Golf Digest calculated that there were nearly 32,000 golf courses in the world, approximately half of them in the United States. [15] The countries with most golf courses in relation to population, starting with the best endowed were: Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, Wales, United States, Sweden, and England (countries with fewer than 500,000 people were excluded). Apart from Sweden all of these countries have English as the official language, but the number of courses in new territories is increasing rapidly. For example the first golf course in the People's Republic of China only opened in the mid-1980s, but by 2005 there were 200 courses in that country.

The professional sport was initially dominated by British golfers, but since World War I, America has produced the greatest quantity of leading professionals. Other Commonwealth countries such as Australia and South Africa are also traditional powers in the sport. Since around the 1970s, Japan, Scandinavian and other Western European countries have produced leading players on a regular basis. The number of countries with high-class professionals continues to increase steadily, especially in East Asia. South Korea is notably strong in women's golf.

The last decade or so has seen a marked increase in specialised golfing vacations or holidays worldwide. This demand for travel which is centered around golf has lead to the development of many luxury resorts which cater to golfers and feature integrated golf courses.

Professional golf

Golf is played professionally in many different countries. The majority of professional golfers work as club or teaching professionals, and only compete in local competitions. A small elite of professional golfers are "tournament pros" who compete full time on international "tours".

Golf tours

Tiger Woods, who is currently the leading professional golfer in the world.
Tiger Woods, who is currently the leading professional golfer in the world. [16]
Main article: Professional golf tours

There are at least twenty professional golf tours, each run by a PGA or an independent tour organisation, which is responsible for arranging events, finding sponsors, and regulating the tour. Typically a tour has "members" who are entitled to compete in all of its events, and also invites non-members to compete in some of them. Gaining membership of an elite tour is highly competitive, and most professional golfers never achieve it.

The most widely known tour is the PGA TOUR (officially rendered in all caps), which attracts the best golfers from all the other men's tours. This is due mostly to the fact that most PGA TOUR events have a first prize of at least USD 800,000. The European Tour, which attracts a substantial number of top golfers from outside North America, ranks second to the PGA TOUR in worldwide prestige. Some top professionals from outside North America play enough tournaments to maintain membership on both the PGA TOUR and European Tour. There are several other men's tours around the world.

Golf is unique in having lucrative competition for older players. There are several senior tours for men 50 and older, the best known of which is the U.S.-based Champions Tour.

There are five principal tours for women, each based in a different country or continent. The most prestigious of these is the U.S-based LPGA Tour.

Men's major championships

Main article: Men's major golf championships

The major championships are the four most prestigious men's tournaments of the year. In current (2006) chronological order they are:

  • The Masters
  • U.S. Open
  • The Open Championship (referred to in North America as the British Open)
  • PGA Championship

The fields for these events include the top several dozen golfers from all over the world. The Masters has been played at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia since its inception in 1934. It is the only major championship that is played at the same course each year. The U.S. Open and PGA Championship are played at various courses around the United States, while The Open Championship is played at various courses in the UK.

The number of major championships a player accumulates in his career has a very large impact on his stature in the sport. Jack Nicklaus is widely regarded as the greatest golfer of all time, largely because he has won a record 18 professional majors, or 20 majors in total if his two U.S. Amateurs are included. Tiger Woods, who may be the only golfer likely to challenge Nicklaus's record, has won twelve professional majors (15 total if his three U.S. Amateurs are included), all before the age of thirty-one. (To put this total in perspective, Nicklaus had won eight professional majors and two U.S. Amateurs at the same age.) Woods also came closest to winning all four current majors in one season (known as a Grand Slam completed first by Bobby Jones) when he won them consecutively across two seasons: the 2000 U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship; and the 2001 Masters. This feat has been frequently called the Tiger Slam.

Prior to the advent of the PGA Championship and The Masters, the four Majors were the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur, the Open Championship, and the British Amateur. These are the four that Bobby Jones won in 1930 to become the only player ever to have earned a Grand Slam.

Women's majors

Main article: Women's major golf championships

Women's golf does not have a globally agreed set of majors. The list of majors recognized by the dominant women's tour, the LPGA Tour in the U.S., has changed several times over the years, with the last change in 2001. Like the PGA TOUR, the (U.S.) LPGA[17] currently has four majors:

  • Kraft Nabisco Championship
  • U.S. Women's Open
  • LPGA Championship
  • Women's British Open

Only the last of these is also recognized by the Ladies European Tour. The other event that it recognizes as a major is the Evian Masters, which is not considered a major by the LPGA (but is co-sanctioned as a regular LPGA event). However, the significance of this is limited, as the LPGA is far more dominant in women's golf than the PGA Tour is in mainstream men's golf. For example, the BBC has been known to use the U.S. definition of "women's majors" without qualifying it. Also, the Ladies European Tour tacitly acknowledges the dominance of the LPGA Tour by not scheduling any of its own events to conflict with the three LPGA majors played in the U.S.

The second-richest women's tour, the LPGA of Japan Tour, does not recognize any of the U.S. LPGA or European majors. It has its own set of three majors. However, these events attract little notice outside Japan.

Senior majors

Main article: Senior major golf championships

Like women's golf, senior (50-and-over) men's golf does not have a globally agreed set of majors. The list of senior majors on the U.S.-based Champions Tour has changed over the years, but always by expansion; unlike the situation with the LPGA, no senior major has lost its status. The Champions Tour now recognizes five majors:

  • Senior PGA Championship
  • U.S. Senior Open
  • Senior British Open
  • The Tradition
  • Senior Players Championship

Of the five events, the Senior PGA is by far the oldest, having been founded in 1937. The other events all date from the 1980s, when senior golf became a commercial success as the first golf stars of the television era, such as Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, reached the relevant age. The Senior British Open was not recognized as a major by the Champions Tour until 2003.

The European Seniors Tour recognizes only the Senior PGA and the two Senior Opens as majors. However, the Champions Tour is arguably more dominant in global senior golf than the U.S. LPGA is in global women's golf.

Junior Professional Golf Tour

The Professional Golf tour began a program for young children to compete at a high level in 1996. Age divisions ranging from 12 and under, 13-15, and 16-18 give young golfers the chance to compete amongst the best golfers of their respective age group. The Tour also helps teach young golfers the etiquette of the game and give them a grasp on the rules of golf. The junior PGA is split into 41 sections with more than 1,650 tournaments across the United States each year.

Environmental impact

Environmental concerns over the use of land for golf courses have grown over the past 50 years. Specific concerns include the amount of water and chemical pesticides and fertilizers used for maintenance, as well as the destruction of wetlands and other environmentally important areas during construction.

Wildlife is sometimes seen on golf courses, but is not encouraged due to damage it causes to the course.
Wildlife is sometimes seen on golf courses, but is not encouraged due to damage it causes to the course.

These, along with health and cost concerns, have led to significant research into more environmentally sound practices and turf grasses. The modern golf course superintendent is well trained in the uses of these practices and grasses. This has led to reductions in the amount of chemicals and water used on courses. The turf on golf courses is an excellent filter for water and has been used in many communities to cleanse grey water. While many people continue to oppose golf courses for environmental reasons, there are others who feel that they are beneficial for the community and the environment as they provide corridors for migrating animals and sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife.

A major result of modern equipment is that today's players can hit the ball much further than previously. In a concern for safety, modern golf course architects have had to lengthen and widen their design envelope. This has led to a ten percent increase in the amount of area that is required for golf courses today. At the same time, water restrictions placed by many communities have forced many courses to limit the amount of maintained turf grass. While most modern 18-hole golf courses occupy as much as 60 ha (150 acres) of land, the average course has 30 ha (75 acres) of maintained turf. (Sources include the National Golf Foundation and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America [GCSAA].)

Golf courses are built on many different types of land, including sandy areas along coasts, abandoned farms, strip mines and quarries, deserts and forests. Many Western countries have instituted significant environmental restrictions on where and how courses can be built [citation needed].

In some parts of the world, attempts to build courses and resorts have led to significant protests along with vandalism and violence by both sides. Although golf is a relatively minor issue compared to other land-ethics questions, it has symbolic importance as it is a sport normally associated with the wealthier Westernized population, and the culture of colonization and globalization of non-native land ethics. Resisting golf tourism and golf's expansion has become an objective of some land-reform movements, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia.

In Saudi Arabia, golf courses have been constructed on nothing more than oil-covered sand. However, in some cities such as Dhahran, modern, grass golf courses have been built recently.

In Coober Pedy, Australia, there is a famous golf course that consists of nine holes dug into mounds of sand, diesel and oil and not a blade of grass or a tree to be seen. You carry a small piece of astroturf from which you tee.

In New Zealand it is not uncommon for rural courses to have greens fenced off and sheep graze the fairways. Many golf courses have been displaced by urban planning practices. Many things that displace golf courses range from neighborhoods to shopping malls.

At the 125-year-old Royal Colombo Golf Club in Sri Lanka steam trains, from the Kelani Valley railway, run through the course at the 6th hole.

Technology in Golf


As golf has grown more competitive, players have wanted equipment that performs better. Golf balls have changed from feather-filled leather sacs to complex composites. Golf clubs have changed from wooden shafts and club heads to carbon fiber shafts and precisely engineered club heads.


As sports nutrition has increased, treatment of injuries improved and knowledge of the human body grown, athletic potential has increased. Athletes today are now able to play at an older age, recover more quickly from injuries, and train more effectively than in previous generations.


Golf has often been in the forefront of technological advances in sport. Systems have been developed that measure the speed and spin of golf balls after they are hit, measure club head speed and even how the body moves during the golf swing. Video motion capture has played a large role in measuring aspects of golf that are difficult if not impossible to measure and understand with the human eye.

Tools such as launch monitors are able to measure club head speed as well as golf ball speed and spin, projecting the most likely flight path of the ball. Video capture devices allow body position and angles to be determined at different points of the swing. Motion capture devices allow for most information to be gathered at one time, measuring position, angles, orientations, as well as velocities at many points of the swing. The benefit of motion capture devices is that they utilize computers, which are cheaper to store data on than high speed video and are more precise.


The word golf was first mentioned in writing in 1457 on a Scottish statute on forbidden games as gouf, possibly derived from the Scottish word goulf (variously spelled) meaning "to strike or cuff". This word may, in turn, be related to the Dutch word kolf, meaning "bat," or "club," and the Dutch sport of the same name.

There is a persistent urban legend claiming that the term derives from an acronym "Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden". This is almost certainly false as acronyms being used as words is a fairly modern phenomenon, making the expression more likely to be a backronym [18].

Golf humor

Many jokes revolve around the game of golf, either as a setting for an otherwise generic punchline or as the target of a barb. Mark Twain's definition of golf was "a good walk spoiled". John McEnroe asked rhetorically, in reference to whether golf is a sport, "I thought a sport was where you had to run or something." Many business people like to say, "The worst day on the golf course is better than the best day at work." It is also noted that J.R.R. Tolkien said that golf originated from hobbits, after Bullroarer Took knocked the goblin king Golfimbul's head off with a wooden club, sending it down a rabbit hole thus winning the battle and inventing golf at the same time. During a stand up comedy act, Robin Williams did an entire set related to the invention of the sport by drunk Scots.

Golf movies

  • A Gentlemen's Game
  • Happy Gilmore
  • The Greatest Game Ever Played
  • The Legend of Bagger Vance
  • Tin Cup
  • Caddyshack
  • Caddyshack II
  • Bobby Jones: Stroke of a Genius
  • Follow The Sun
  • Dead Solid Perfect
  • Banning
  • The Story of Golf
  • Dead Solid Perfect

Golf magazines

  • Golf Digest
  • Scoregolf
  • Travel and Leisure: Golf
  • Golf Illustrated
  • Golf Magazine
  • Golf Week

See also

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
  • Golf glossary
  • List of golfers
  • List of golfers with most major title wins
  • Golfers with most PGA Tour wins
  • PGA European Tour
  • Ryder Cup
  • The Golf Channel
  • Golf instruction
  • Golf etiquette
  • 2006 in golf
  • Champions Tour
  • List of golf courses


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  17. ^ There are several bodies known as the "LPGA", each based in a different country or continent. The U.S. LPGA is the only one without a geographic identifier in its name, as it was the first to be founded. Typically, if the term "LPGA" is used without an identifier, it refers to the U.S. body.
  18. ^ See article at Snopes.

External links

  • The R&A
  • United States Golf Association
  • International Association of Golf Club Presidents
  • International Golf Federation
  • European Golf Association
  • The Official site of the Professional Golf Association
  • Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
  • Latin America's Golf Cup Int'l Circuit
  • Golf History

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