Golf Very Basics

Golf history, what's needed, how long is a game and more.

Very basics / Ways of play / Golf terms / The course / Tournaments

The modern game of golf was invented in the 15th century along the links of the Scottish coastline. The Scottish government banned the game in 1647, claiming that it interfered with the practice of archery and threatened its national defense. Golf survived, and in 1754 the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrew's developed a complete set of rules. Today St. Andrew's and the United States Golf Association govern the rules of the sport.

The Very Very Basics
Golfers use wood and metal clubs to hit a golf ball into the “cup” on each of eighteen different holes on a golf course. Each swing a golfer takes at the ball is called a “stroke,” and counts toward his or her total score. The number of strokes a player takes through an entire “round” of golf is the player’s score. The player with the lowest score wins the golf game.

What's Needed?
A set of golf clubs (usually fourteen, consisting of three woods, ten irons, and one putter), a golf bag, golf balls, golf tees, golf shoes, and a golf course score card. A golf glove is optional.

How Long Is A Game?
There is no set time limit for a golf game. Golf is played on 18 hole courses as either stroke play, in which the lowest total score wins, or as match play, in which the most individual holes won outright determines the winner.
(more details in Basic ways of play)

Let´s play!
Play begins on each hole from the “tee box.” Players try to “drive” the ball onto the “fairway,” hit an “approach” shot onto the “green,” and then putt the ball into the “cup.” Along the way from tee to green, different “hazards” exist which can hinder play and increase the difficulty of a hole. A “par” system, determined by the length of each individual hole, grades the overall difficulty of an entire course.

Stance? Grip? Swing?
In order to properly hit the ball and play golf well, a player must be able to understand and execute the three fundamental aspects of the game: the stance, the grip, and the swing.

The Stance - The first element to correctly hitting a golf ball. A player is said to “address” the ball when he or she stands facing it with a club in hand. The golfer must keep his or her head down and eyes on the ball at all times. The shoulders and feet should be square with the ball and feet firmly planted.

The Grip - Without a proper grip, successful contact with the ball is unlikely. A player grips the club in a manner similar to shaking a person’s hand. With both hands clasped snugly around the club handle, pressure is exerted by the two middle fingers on the right hand and the last three fingers on the left hand (for right-handed players). Players can choose to link the little finger on the front (right) hand over or under the fourth finger on the back (left) hand.

The Swing - The final and equally important component to hitting the ball well. The golfer grips the club with both hands and holds it with outstretched arms, positioning the “club face” directly behind the ball. Keeping the left arm straight on the backswing (for right-handed golfers), the player swings the club across his or her body and over the shoulder. The player must keep his or her head down when swinging through the ball.

Which one?
During a round of golf, players may carry up to fourteen clubs in their golf bags. Every club is numbered and each is designed for a particular shot. Each club face is angled at a different degree of “loft” with clubs ranging from open faced “wedges” to larger headed “woods.” The lower the number on the club, the less loft on the club face; thus, the farther the ball will travel when it is hit.

Woods - Made of graphite or wood, these large headed clubs are for teeing off on long par four and par five holes and for long distance fairway shots. The “one” wood or driver is generally the most powerful club in a golfer’s bag.

Irons - The flat, steel-faced clubs used for short and long fairway strokes. Irons vary in design from sand and pitching wedges with the greatest amount of loft (for short approach shots), to irons with very little loft, like a two or three iron for long distance shots. The putter has an upright face and is used on the green to push the ball toward the cup.

Very basics / Ways of play / Golf terms / The course / Tournaments