Golf is an outdoor game in which players hit a small hard ball with specially designed clubs including a driver, a putter, and irons that consist of a metal shaft and a wooden or a metal club head. The object is to strike the ball with the club so that the ball goes into a cup that is sunk in the ground and marked with a flag.
Ever since the first time that golf courses were built or golfers picked up a golf club, players have been trying to better their game. There have been technological advances in everything from golf balls to golf clubs.
A standard golf course is divided into 18 holes, each with a tee, where the initial stroke is made; a grass fairway; and a green, a smooth grass surface where the cup is located.
Each player attempts to reach the green and hit the ball into the cup using as few strokes as possible. Obstacles -- such as water, tall grass called rough, or traps filled with sand -- may be found near the green or fairway. As many as 14 different types of clubs may be used depending on the length of shot required or the terrain.
The distance from tee to cup varies greatly, but generally it is from 100 to 600 yards. The length and difficulty of the hole determine the par, the number of strokes that a good golfer would need to put the ball into the cup. After 18 holes, the player with the lowest number of strokes is the winner of that round.
Traditionally, a golf hole is either a par-three, par-four or par-five; some par-six holes exist, but are not usually found on traditional golf courses. A hole is classified by its par, the number of strokes a skilled golfer should require to complete play of the hole.
For example, a skilled golfer expects to reach the green on a par-four hole in two strokes, one drive from the tee and another, second, stroke to the green, and then roll the ball into the hole in two putts for par.In every form of play, the goal is to play as few strokes per round as possible.
Golf balls are famous for "dimples". These small dips in the surface of the golf ball decrease aerodynamic drag which allows the ball to fly further. Golf is also famous for the use of flags. These show the position of the hole to players when they make their first drive and are too far away from the hole to aim accurately. When all players in a group are within putting distance, the flag is removed by a "caddy" or a fellow competitor to allow for easier access to the hole.
Golf is played in an area of land designated a golf course. A course consists of a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing area, fairway, rough and other hazards, and the green with the pin and cup. A typical golf course consists of eighteen holes, but many smaller courses have only nine.
Players can walk or drive in motorised carts over the course, either singly or in groups of two, three, or four, sometimes accompanied by caddies who carry and manage the players' equipment and give them advice.
The first game of golf for which records survive was played at Bruntsfield Links, in Edinburgh, Scotland, in A.D. 1456, recorded in the archives of the Edinburgh Burgess Golfing Society, now The Royal Burgess Golfing Society. The modern game of golf spread from Scotland to England and has now become a worldwide game, with golf courses in the majority of countries.
Golf has increasingly turned into a spectator game, with several different levels of professional and amateur tours in many regions of the world. Sponsorship has become a huge part of the game and players often earn more from their sponsorship contracts than they do from the game itself.