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