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Golf Basics For Beginners

Aug 18, 2007
Golf is a game of inches, you might have heard that term before but there is the theory of golf that is equally as important as the mechanics of the game. I will start with some history followed by golf terms and meanings.

The first game of golf for which records survive was played at Bruntsfield Links, in Edinburgh, Scotland. The word golf was first mentioned in writing in 1457 on a Scottish statute on forbidden games as gouf, possibly derived from the Scots word goulf meaning to strike or cuff.

But there is an even earlier reference to the game of golf and it is believed to have happened in 1452 when King James II banned the game because it kept his subjects from their archery practice. The origin of golf is open to debate as to being Chinese, Dutch or Scottish. However, the most accepted golf history theory is that this sport originated from Scotland in the 1100s.

The word golf derives from the Dutch kolf meaning stick, club or bat. The oldest playing golf course in the world is The Old Links at Musselburgh Racecourse. As early as the 15th century, golfers at St Andrews, in Fife, established a customary route through the undulating terrain, playing to holes whose locations were dictated by topography.

In 2005 Golf Digest calculated that there were nearly 32,000 golf courses in the world, approximately half of them in the United States. A typical golf course consists of eighteen holes, but many only have nine. Every game of golf is based on playing a number of holes in a given order.

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 called a tee shot, and once the ball comes to rest, striking it again. A hole is classified by its par, the number of strokes a skilled golfer should require to complete play to the hole.

For example, a skilled golfer expects to reach the green on a par four hole in two strokes, one from the tee called the drive and another stroke to the green called the approach. Once on the green the player rolls the ball into the hole with two putts. Traditionally, a golf hole is a par-three, four or five. Par-six holes exist, but usually are not found in traditional golf courses.

In many countries, courses are classified, in addition to the course par, with a course classification describing the play difficulty of a course and may be used to calculate a player handicap for that given course. The par scoring system can be seen as a way to facilitate the comparison of a golfer and his progress around the course in stroke play by providing a common reference score.

The two basic forms of playing golf are match play and stroke play. There are many variations of these basic principles, some of which are explicitly described in the rules of golf and are therefore regarded official. One must pay certain fees to play on a golf course. There is the cart fee, which is for the use of a golf cart, and the greens fee, which allows play on the course itself.

A handicap is a numerical measure of amateur golfers and their ability to play golf over 18 holes. Legislations regarding the calculation of handicaps differ among countries and sometimes become so complicated that a handicap might not always mirror the real level of play. Professional golfers typically score several strokes below par for a round with a handicap of 0 subtracting 0 from their round score.

The rules of golf are internationally standardized and are jointly governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the United States Golf Association. In addition to the officially printed rules, golfers also abide by a set of guidelines called Golf Etiquette. Though there are no penalties for breach of etiquette rules, players generally follow the rules of golf etiquette in an effort to improve the playing experience.
About the Author
John Whelan is a Freelance Writer whose articles and product reviews help inform the consumer. Read his review on the just released Golf Beginner Guide
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