What is Golf?

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

What is golf and how is it played?

Originating in the 15th century, golf has a long and storied history as a sport. Some refer to golf as a game. Others insist golf is a combination of both sport and game. Golf is centered on hitting a small ball from the tee to the fairway, onto the green and into the hole in as few strokes as possible. Golf is a game of precision, focus and hand-eye coordination.

The game of golf is played on golf courses. Players swing drivers to hit their golf ball from the tee. The next shot is typically an iron in which the golfer hits his ball from the fairway or rough to a section of fairway closer to the green or on the green. Once the green or the area near it is reached, golfers have the option of putting or chipping. For the most part, golfers putt from the green though it is possible to execute a putt from the rough. If the golf ball lands short of the rough, the golfer uses a wedge or iron to land a chip shot on the green. The objective is to sink the initial shot from the fairway to the green, the chip shot by the green or the initial putt on the green. The flagstick remains in the hole during chip shots, creating the potential for the golf ball to move from the flagstick into the hole. However, if the golfer goes not sink his chip shot, he will putt from the green with the flagstick removed from the hole. Putting has the potential to prove quite challenging as it involves guiding a golf ball along the green that might undulate, sometimes in several different directions within the vicinity of the hole.

what is golf

Add in golf course hazards such as small ponds, sand traps, cart paths, shrubs and fallen branches and the game becomes even more difficult. As discussed below, golf is an inherently challenging activity that gradually pays off as your skill level improves. If you are new to golf, you will likely mishit your ball into several golf course hazards. If your ball ends up in a hazard, you can attempt the next shot from within the hazard or hit a new ball minus a stroke penalty in a designated space near the hazard.

Golf shots are executed with a set of 14 golf clubs carried in a golf bag. These clubs have unique sizes, lengths and angled clubfaces. Most intermediate and advanced golfers have a wide array of golfing accessories worn or brought to the course. However, all you need to play a round of golf is a bag, clubs, golf balls and a scorecard. Once you have these essentials, it is time to get together with your friends and determine the type of game you would like to play. Professionals typically play stroke play in which the number of strokes necessary to finish the round determines a golfer’s score. The lowest score wins the round. There is also the option to play a team game in which two golfers or a team of two to three golfers compete. This team format adds to the fun factor, reinforcing bonds between players and setting the stage for a memorable outing on the golf course.

Once play begins, scores are recorded on a scorecard. Golf scores at the expected number are referred to as pars. Par is essentially the number of strokes a player should make between teeing off and holing out. A score that is one below par is a birdie. A score of one over par is a bogey. An eagle is two shots under par. An albatross is three strokes under par. Maintain your focus, tap into your muscle memory and you will be on your way to avoiding a double bogey of two over par or the dreaded triple bogey of three over par. Golfer scores in relation to par are added up across 18 holes to determine the score for the round.

What is a game of golf?

A game of golf takes place on a golf course. Golfers typically play a round of 18 holes though some prefer to play a round of 9 holes. The game of golf is played on golf courses that are not fixed or standard sizes. Each golf course has its own unique length, uniquely sized fairways, greens of distinct measurements and so on. The local terrain often shapes the style of the course. As an example, desert golf courses tend to be flat while those located near wooded or forested areas tend to be comparably hilly.

What is the objective of golf?

The overarching goal of golf is to sink the golf ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible. The golfer with the lowest score for the round or the tournament wins. Tournaments typically consist of four rounds, often played between the days of Thursday and Sunday. Though the most obvious objective of golf is to shoot the lowest possible score, golfers have latent reasons for playing the game that might not be so obvious at first glance. Some golfers enjoy the game of golf as it provides an opportunity to be outdoors for hours at a time. Others enjoy the game of golf as it sets the stage for social bonding with fellow players. Some simply enjoy the challenge that is mastering this difficult game.

What does golf course mean?

what is golfGolf courses are the areas in which golf is played. However, no two golf courses are exactly the same. The designers of golf courses go to great lengths to make their creations quite unique. Parkland courses are those that are constructed inland, nowhere near the ocean. Such a course typically has an abundance of lush green grass and greens. 

Parkland courses are commonly featured on the PGA Tour as they look similar to an actual green park. Parkland courses are carefully manicured and comprised of features created by the course builders. Examples of such features include ponds, bunkers and built-up rough. It is interesting to note Parkland courses are commonly constructed in areas that do not have the optimal conditions for the sport, meaning their soil and grass are more difficult to maintain.

Heathland golf courses are similar to heaths. A heath is an area of uncultivated, open land, commonly found in Great Britain. Heathland golf courses typically have comparably coarse grasses along with heather vegetation. Such inland courses are built with more of an open style than parkland courses, drawing inspiration form links courses. Heathland courses look a bit unkempt as they usually have an abundance of heather and gorse.

Sand belt golf courses draw their name from the sandbelt region of Melbourne, Australia. Sandy spaces are suitable for golf as they do not undulate. Rather, such sandy areas tend to be flat and low-lying. This soil is also optimal for bunkers with steep edges surrounding greens. Finally, par-3 courses are those typically designed for kids and newbies to the game. However, some experienced golfers play par-3 courses as they are fun and aren’t as serious as traditional courses. Par-3 courses are affordable, played quickly and take up less space than regular courses.

Many courses have been GPS mapped to allow devices, to provide accurate on the spot yardages.  

What is the difference between a golf course and a links course?

Links courses are the most popular type of golf course. The word “links” stems from the Old English word of hlinc that means elevating ground or ridges. Though plenty of golf courses claim to be of the links style, the links category is much more specific. The majority of true links golf courses are typically located in Scotland, England and Ireland. In order for a links course to be considered legitimate, it must be positioned by the coast and feature sandy soil below. The game of golf was originally founded with links golf courses as the comparably sandy soil was ideal for playing the sport and unsuitable for ay other purposes. The sandy area wasn’t suitable for agriculture so people decided it would be optimal for golfing. This sandy soil drains better than most other surface, ensuring the ground remains firm, setting the stage for truly enjoyable golf.

Examples of some of the top links golf courses in the world include the Bandon Dunes golf resort, Royal Troon, The Old Course at St. Andrews and Lahinch. We would be remiss not to mention links golf courses also have pot bunkers rather than the comparably large and expansive bunkers used on American courses. Add in the proximity to the water combined with few trees and wind ends up playing quite the important role when playing a links course. Legitimate links golf courses are unforgiving, demanding and rife with external elements that make playing that much more difficult than a parkland or desert course. In short, links golf courses require the golfer to work with the course’s natural elements while traversing the natural lay of the land, ultimately replicating the early days of golf.

Why is golf 18 holes?

Full-length courses consist of 18 holes. Even some par-3 courses have 18 holes. However, most golfers are unaware as to why golf courses consist of 18 holes as opposed to 20, 25, 10, etc. Some golfers are adamant that a discussion that took place at the St. Andrews club membership board in 1858 is the reason for golf courses having 18 holes. Here’s how the story goes. One of the board members stated it takes 18 shots to drink a fifth of Scotch. 

A limit of one shot per hole of golf would result in the course being completed when the Scotch was depleted. However, this story appears to be folklore rather than truth. In reality, golf’s roots stem back to the 15th century. The truth is early golf courses had all different numbers of holes, ranging from 24 to 5. 

However, the game eventually evolved to the point that 18 holes became the norm. The number 18 is optimal as more than 18 holes would take too much time to complete yet a mere nine holes is too short of an outing for most golfers. However, golfers still have the option to play nine holes instead of 18 if desired.

What are the different golf formats?

Golf has all sorts of unique formats, most of which are a blast to play. Golf stroke play is centered on accounting for each stroke. Players tabulate their strokes per hole on a scorecard, add up those strokes across the 18 holes and determine which player has the lowest total score. The low score wins the round.

what is golfGolf match play is similar to stroke play in that it accounts for the aggregate number of strokes per hole. However, the difference between the two is a winner is identified for each hole by comparing his strokes to those of an opponent. The golfer with the fewest strokes is the winner of that specific hole. Once the round is complete, the golfer who wins the most holes is the winner.

Scramble golf involves players on a team of either two, three of four teeing off then deciding which of the players’ shots was the best. The players with inferior shots pick up their golf balls and play their subsequent shots from the position of the best ball. This approach is repeated until the hole is complete. However, the caveat is balls placed by the best position must be within the width of a single scorecard of that position. If the ball is on the green, it is to be positioned within a single putter head of the market.

The Stableford system determines a winner based on how each golfer performs in the context of his or her handicap. This is accomplished by converting strokes that are over, under or even par into points in accordance with the player’s handicap.

Foursome golf is centered on two players in a partnership playing a single ball that they hit with alternate strokes. One player tees off on holes with even numbers while the other tees off on holes with odd numbers. Subsequent shots are played in an alternating manner until the hole is complete. Foursome golf can be played with either stroke play or match play rules.

Four ball is similar to foursome golf yet each player uses his own specific golf ball. The better score of the team is tabulated. Four ball can be played in either stroke or match play. Furthermore, three ball match formats are also an option in which three players play one another in two separate matches.

Skins golf is centered on each golf hole having a specific amount of points. Some players assign dollar amounts to each hole. The only way to emerge victorious is to win the hole in an outright manner. If the top score for the hole is reached by more than one individual, the points or dollars carry to the next hole, creating the potential for subsequent holes to be worth even more money. If the final hole is halved, a playoff commences until a player wins the hole outright.

Wolf is a golf betting game, for groups of 3 or 4 people, that is based on points and has some aspects of “going alone” like in euchre.  Players can choose to go alone or pair up with one of the others in the group on a hole by hold basis.  It is a format that brings a lot of fun and can, if the stakes are high enough, bring some big money moments.

What to wear on course?

The attire you wear to the golf course should be dictated by the course’s policies. Be sure to check with the course manager before showing up in your selected clothing. In general, a collared golf shirt will be acceptable. Such a pullover with short sleeves is a bit longer than regular polo shirts yet stays tucked in throughout the round. When in doubt, err on the side of a conservative style as opposed to a loud style as golf is an inherently conservative game. If you want to hit the links in shorts, wear those of Bermuda length as opposed to cutoffs, short shorts or gym shorts.

what is golfThough professionals play golf in pants, you have the option of wearing shorts as long as your golf course permits such attire. Do not wear jeans while golfing as they are unsuitable for the sport both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. Women can wear a skirt, capri pants, a skort that looks similar to a skirt with a panel across the back/front or culottes.

In terms of footwear, public courses allow players to wear regular sneakers. However, many private courses require players wear golf shoes. If your golf shoes have spikes, they should be soft rather than metal. Finally, be sure to bring a rain jacket or hat in case the skies open up while you are swinging the sticks.

How many clubs are allowed?

Though some players choose to carry only a couple golf clubs when playing par-3 courses, the majority of players have 14 clubs in their bag for a regular golf course. However, if desired, players can carry less than 14 clubs in their bag. If you have fewer than 14 clubs in your bag, you can add more clubs during the round if they are not from another player and the act does not cause a play delay. 

However, such additions are only permissible under specific conditions. Playing with more than 14 clubs in the bag results in a penalty based on the type of game played. Stroke play penalties for an excessive number of clubs are two strokes while match play penalties are a hole deduction for each hole’s score. Keep in mind, your putter counts as a club.

Why is golf so hard?

Golf is inherently difficult as it requires precise hand-eye coordination along with a mastery of body control. If you are not coordinated, you will find golf is challenging, especially if you do not practice the game. Even the slightest mistake in terms of head movement, backswing, improper follow-through or footwork has the potential to compromise your swing. This is precisely why most people agree golf is one of the most difficult sports to master. In short, golf is centered on physics, meaning those who do not want to perfect their swinging motion will essentially “wing it” and fail to meet their true golfing potential.

If you want to make golf easier, you should take golf lessons or at least meet with a skilled player to analyze your swing. If you have the money, do not hesitate to spend for a swing coach who can help you elevate your game to the next level. However, even if you master the physics of the golf swing, there is also the mental challenge of golf to master. The thoughts running through your head prior to each shot really do matter a great deal. It is important that you think about the right things before swinging and also during the swinging motion to hit the perfect shot. This is exactly why some golfers meet with sports psychologists on a regular basis.

Things you need for golf/golf must haves

You will need golf clubs, a golf bag and golf balls to play the game of golf. Furthermore, some golf courses require that you wear specific apparel so be sure to comply with the requirements for attire. Ideally, you will also have a golf rangefinder or golf watch that helps you pinpoint the flagstick, gauge the distance to targets and hit the best possible shot every single time. 

Additional golf accessories that will help take your game to the next level include gloves to prevent blisters and callouses, a towel to clean off your club and a hat/visor to block out the sun. Finally, don’t forget the tees! Though you can tee off from the flat surface in the tee box, it will prove that much easier to elevate your golf ball off the ground if you use a tee when driving or hitting your initial iron.

Be sure to bring some water or a sports drink with electrolytes so you can hydrate while swinging the sticks under the blazing hot sun. Golf rounds typically take at least a couple hours if not the entire morning or afternoon. This means you will be hungry around hole number nine. If you don’t have snacks or a small bagged lunch packed in your golf bag, you will lack the energy necessary to finish the course and play your best. 

So be sure to pack some protein and possibly even an energy drink so you have enough fuel to finish the course at your best. Also, don’t forget to bring a scorecard and a pen or pencil so you can record your score for each hole. Finally, bring along some friends. If you show up to the course alone, you will likely be paired with at least one other golfer. 

Alternatively, if you schedule a tee time with two or three other friends, colleagues or family members, you will rest easy knowing you can play the entirety of the round with people you are comfortable being around as opposed to complete strangers.

Why play golf? 

Really, why do people play golf?  They play golf because it is fun. However, some people play golf as they want to develop business relationships on the course, enjoy a day outdoors with their buddies or simply get out of the house and socialize. 

Above all, golf is played because it is challenging and rewarding. Hitting an absolutely perfect golf shot provides inherent joy. Though golf has the potential to prove frustrating, it is worth the trials and tribulations when your game improves and you shoot lower scores. It is also worth noting some golfers play the game of golf as it is good for their health. 

Opt to walk the course rather than ride in a cart and you will get plenty of exercise, fresh air and sunlight, each of which is good for your health. It is quite possible you will take 7,000 steps or more when walking a golf course.

what is golfIf you still aren’t convinced golf is worth playing, consider the fact that it reduces stress levels. Golf decreases stress as it exposes players to the fresh air, beautiful scenery and other people. The end result of this stimulation is the release of endorphins or “happy chemicals” within the brain that reduce stress and prove quite relaxing. In short, golf is an uplifting experience.

Some choose to golf as it presents an opportunity to bond with family members. Parents who teach their kids to golf enjoy a shared activity that both can enjoy together for years to come, setting the stage for a mutually beneficial relationship as time progresses. 

Regardless of your reason for golfing, you are likely to find even more reasons to continue playing this unique game in the years ahead. Above all, people play golf because it provides an opportunity to establish friendships with others, be social and enjoy a lovely morning or afternoon on a visually striking golf course with the sun shining bright above. 

Continue to play golf and your social circle will gradually expand as you connect with that many more fellow golf enthusiasts. Make a commitment to improving your golf game, give it your all and your handicap will gradually improve.

And if none of that makes any sense to you, below is my favorite video on what golf is and where it came from… Enjoy!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *