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What is Golf?

Golf is a sport in which players use clubs to attempt to hit golf balls into holes with the least number of strokes possible. Golf provides friendly, courteous competition and can forge lasting bonds between you and your fellow players. Whether you hope to make a professional career out of golf or just want to play for fun, this article will help you get started.

History of Golf

Games similar to golf can be found all throughout the pages of history. Games called “paganica” and “chuiwan” (played in ancient Rome and China, respectively) share remarkable similarities with the modern game. Golf as we know it today is traditionally believed to have originated in Scotland in the 15th century. However, this is debatable; some argue that it actually first arose in the Netherlands. Regardless of its origins, the game of golf was definitely in full swing by the 16th century. 1

How Golf Works

Golf is played on specialized “courses”, which are divided up into a number of “holes”- usually either 18 or 9. Players attempt to hit their golf balls into each hole with as few swings of their golf clubs (“strokes”) as possible. One point is awarded for each stroke. At the end of the game, when the points are tallied up, the player with the least number of points wins.

Every time a player’s club connects with their ball, a stroke is incurred, but strokes can also be awarded for rule infractions or certain behaviors. For example, a ball hit out of bounds or lost adds one extra stroke to a player’s score, and any attempt to hit the ball with a club is considered a stroke regardless of whether or not contact is made.

Proper etiquette is held in high esteem on the golf course. You should always be polite and respectful of other players. Don’t yell. Count your strokes honestly. Avoid distracting other golfers. Keep track of your ball. These are just a few of the expectations other players will have of you while you’re on the course. You will pick up many of the intricacies of golf etiquette as you play. If you use common sense and are willing to learn and correct your errors as you go, you’ll be fine.

Where to Participate

Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and South Africa are the five countries in which the sport is most popular. However, most countries have an appreciation for golf and an active golf community. If you’re interested in playing, search around your area and try to locate a golf course that works for you. If you find that there are multiple courses in your region, you may need to consider price, location, and quality to determine which course is right for you.

Many golf courses offer lessons and assistance for beginners. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Equipment Needed

Although many other golf accessories and pieces of equipment are available, these are the essentials.

Golf Clubs

A beginning golfer’s first priority, equipment-wise, should be a set of golf clubs. It is recommended that your set of clubs contain at least one wood, one iron, and a putter. A more diverse set of clubs will give you certain advantages as you continue playing the game, but a basic set is fine for a beginner.

Golf Bag

You will need a golf bag to help you transport your clubs around the course. When looking for a bag, you should try to find one that is comfortable to carry. Padded straps, for example, can go a long way.

Golf Balls

It’s easy to lose golf balls out on the course, especially as a beginner, so it is recommended that you buy a large number of them and keep as many of them in your bag as you can. It is not necessary to buy expensive golf balls, especially when you are just starting out.


A tee is a small stake driven into the ground at the tee box so that a golf ball can be hit off it. Tees generally allow players to hit their golf balls higher and further, but they can only be utilized within the tee box (with rare exceptions). Tees are not required, but they are very helpful and are used by the majority of golf players.

Ball Markers

On the putting green, you may run into a scenario where your ball is blocking another person’s ball. If this happens, you will have to pick up your ball so the other person can putt unobstructed. Ball markers are used to mark your ball’s position in cases like these so that you can put it back after the other person is done putting. In most cases, a penny or other coin will serve you just as well as a commercial ball marker.

Golf Terminology 

  • Hole: used in reference both to each “playing section” of the golf course and in reference to the literal hole in the ground that the player is aiming for.
  • Tee box: the starting area at the beginning of each hole.
  • Green: the flat stretch of ground around the hole, used for putting.
  • Fairway: the main stretch of short-cut grass between the tee box and the putting green.
  • Stroke: any attempt by a golfer to hit the ball (accidental contact with the ball also counts as a stroke). Each stroke adds a point to the golfer’s score.
  • Par: the bar set for how many strokes a player should get on a given hole. For example, on a par 4 hole, it should take you four strokes to make it in the hole. If you’re a beginner, you’re probably not going to get par very often. Instead, you should start out by making it your goal to get under “double par”, which is simply the par of a given hole multiplied by two (for example, a par 4 hole’s double par would be 8).
  • Fore: a word shouted as a warning to other people if it looks like your ball is about to hit them.


The Rules of Golf

GolfNow Course Directory

The United States Golf Association (USGA)

Golf Glossary