Golf – Rules & Regulations, How to Play and More
History of Golf
Golf has a long history. It evolved continuously, withstood time and reached the present form.
People played the game in many parts of the world. In the course of time, the game gained its importance in the important places of the globe.
In the period of Ceaser, people played the game with a ball of stuffed feather and club-shaped tree branches. Then the name of the game was ‘paganica.’
The game had its traces in the Song Dynasty in China during the years 960 to 1279.
‘Cambuca’ in England, ‘chambot’ in France, ‘chaugán’ in Persia and ‘kolven’ in the Netherland are some ancient games. The games had a good resemblance to golf.
Medieval & Modern Period
The sport which resembled today’s form has its origin in Scotland which dates back to 1457. King James II of Scotland banned the game as it affected the training for the military personnel.
In the seventeenth century, the game became most popular in Great Britain. It spread and had a similar effect in other parts of the world.
The first British Open began in the year 1860, and the tournament is still alive.
The sports enthusiasts formed “Canada’s Royal Montreal Club.” in 1873. It became the first permanent golf club in North America.
Following it, the first 18-hole course in the United States came into existence in the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1893.
The United States Golf Association founded in the year 1894 started as a governing body. In the year 1916, golf enthusiasts founded the Professional Golf Association of America, which is still in force and works as the present governing body.
The golf course is a vast expanse of the field with a collection of golf holes. A standard game of golf consists of playing 18 holes and so a complete golf course usually has 18 holes.
A golf hole further consists of teeing grounds, fairways, putting greens and roughs, all of which are within the boundaries of the golf course.
A complete golf course with 18 holes expands into 100 to 200 acres of land. Courses with 9 holes are also common and courses with 12 holes are also in use.
While playing golf in a full-size course, you have to cover 5000 to 7000 yards in length. It’s the distance between tee to green in a full-size course.
The par of a golf course is about the number of strokes that an expert golfer requires to finish the game. For an 18 hole course, the par ranges between 69 to 74. And the golf courses have the names as par-70, par-71 or par-72 courses.
To facilitate the less time of playing, there are par-3 or executive courses with shorter holes that are also available.
The holes on a golf course bear numbers 1 through 18 and that is the order in which the players play the game.
The holes are not of the same size. Some holes are short with a dimension of two hundred to three hundred meters, while some others are five or six hundred meters.
Each hole has a tee-off area, fairway, green, hazards and rough.
Tee Off Area
It’s the area in which play starts in golf. And the terms tee, tee box, and teeing ground also represent the same area.
Players use a ‘T’ to elevate the golf ball before striking it and hence the name.
Tees are a small wooden or plastic peg. The players use it to hold the ball up and when they hit the ball it travels a distance as far as possible.
Teeing ground or tee-box is the first part of every hole. It is generally in a leveled condition with short grass and is in a raised position from the fairway which surrounds it.
The area of the tee box is the area between the two tee markers and also extends a two-club length behind the marker.
The tee markers have particular colors that help as codes for easy identification of the tee box. Moreover, the order of colors, their names, and the distance of each tee to the hole will be in the scorecards to identify each hole.
Red, Gold, Black, and Blue are the colors that denote the distance from the hole. The color corresponds to a line on the scorecard and represents the length you are playing.
For example, if you choose “Blue” you will play from the Blue tees that appear on each teeing ground and mark your scores on the “Blue” line of the scorecard.
In the tee area, “teeing ground” refers to a single set of tees ( white tees). And “tea box” is the area that contains all the teeing grounds ( blue tees, white tees, etc.)
In a typical golf course, there would be three or more teeing grounds per hole. But some golf courses have six or seven different teeing grounds on each hole.
The fairway is the area between teeing ground and putting green.
It’s the area between the starting point of the hole in the teeing ground to the endpoint of the hole in the putting green.
You have to follow this route while playing golf. Moreover, it is the target to hit when you play par-4 or par- 5 holes. But in the par-3 hole, you have to hit the green with your first stroke. Here, the fairway is not your target.
Fairways connect the teeing ground and putting green and the grass in the fairway is very short. But it is not shorter than the grass in the putting green. The grass in the ‘rough,’ which is in sideways, is taller on either side of the fairway. It helps to view the fairway easily.
The fairway is not the best place to keep the golf ball. But keeping the ball in the fairway while playing towards the green helps in finding the best playing conditions.
Groundskeepers maintain the grass in the fairway but they don’t maintain the grass in the rough and would provide a minimum required maintenance.
As already mentioned, when you stand on the teeing ground, you should aim to hit the ball to reach the fairway and you should avoid the danger of getting the ball into the rough. Then you’ll get the chance in your next stroke to reach the green.
The Putting Green
It’s the ending area of every hole on the golf course. The physical hole, which is the target of the game where you put the ball in, is in the putting green.
There is no standard size or shape for the putting green. However, most of the putting green is round in shape.
In the hole and in the golf course, putting is the area where there is very short grass. As it is the area for putting, it should have short and smooth grass.
In general, putting greens are at a level above fairways. But, sometimes they are in level with fairways also. The surface may have contours, undulations, and have a slight pitch from one side to another.
As per the rules, there is no need for the surface to be perfectly flat and it would still be a challenge to put the ball in the hole in the putting green.
By putting a ball marker behind the ball, you can pick up the golf ball when it is on the surface of the green. The play in the hole comes to an end with the putting of the ball into the cup with the flagship as the mark.
The golfers usually use the eponymous “putter” club to play in the putting green. As the club has a low loft, it helps in the easy rolling of the ball.
Golfers use “reading” to determine the speed, grain, incline, decline, and tilt of the green. The players walk around the green and study the factors before striking the ball.
Most of the golfers consider, reading the green as the most difficult part of the game.
It is the area where the grass is taller, thicker or left unmaintained. The ‘rough’ is generally the area that surrounds the fairways and greens.
It is tough to hit the ball in the rough area and landing the ball in the rough is unintentional and makes the play a tough one.
Maintaining the grass in the rough is optional as the grass may be of any height. In some golf courses, greenkeepers maintain the grass and in some courses, they leave it to grow naturally.
The greenkeepers usually cut the grass around the putting greens to a certain height. But it’ll be very thick in nature and it is tough to get the ball out of it.
The area of rough has various levels of severity which depends on the distance the ball lands from the fairway or the green.
If the ball is nearer and it misses the target by a couple of feet, the grass might be slightly higher than the target area. But, if it misses by a distance, say 15 feet or more, then the grass might have greater height.
These areas have the names as the first cut, second cut and so on to denote the severity of the conditions to play.
The severity of the rough which is not maintained depends upon the weather conditions also. In the rainy season, the greenery might be denser while in a dry season it will be less severe.
Bunkers are huge pits on a golf course with a definite shape. As there is no prescribed shape, it would be circular, oblong or in kidney shape.
Sometimes naturally hollowed out area serves as a bunker. Sand or sand-like fine grain materials are used to fill the bunker.
There is no specific location for bunkers and they are placed anywhere on the golf course.
They are of many sizes and vary from 100 square feet in some places while some are huge and extend all the way from the teeing ground to the putting green.
The general size varies from 250 square feet to 1,000 square feet.
The bunkers also are of different depths. They are in level with the fairway or green and they also have a depth of 10 to 15 feet.
Under the rules of golf, bunkers came under the hazards and there are some restrictions to play in the bunker. For example, a golfer can’t ground his club in the bunker.
A good golfer avoids the bunker as hitting the ball is more difficult than hitting the ball off the fairway.
The water hazards are any of the water bodies like ponds, lakes, streams, creeks, rivers, and ditches on the golf courses.
You have to avoid the water hazards as hitting the ball into a water hazard means a lost ball and it gets you the one-stroke penalty.
In some golf courses, you would have no other option and you have to hit the ball over the water hazard. It runs along the fairway or to the side of the green in some golf courses and is called “lateral water hazards”.
The water hazard has no standard size or shape. Though some golf courses have natural water streams, most of them are man-made.
They don’t have any fixed shape and designers fix the shape as they want it. The waterbodies also act as rainwater catchment and help in the irrigation of the area around the golf course.
The rules differ for water hazards and lateral water hazards. Moreover, painted lines around the boundary tell the difference. If it is a yellow line, it is a water hazard and if it is a red line, it is a lateral water hazard.
The Game Structure
In every round of golf, the player has to play the number of holes in the given order. A “round” in golf consists of 18 holes.
Playing golf starts with the striking of the ball with a club on the teeing ground. It’s the first shot on each hole and the player can hit the ball by placing it on a “Tee”.
The intention of the players would be to hit the ball to a long distance which is more than 205 meters. The shot is known as “drive” and players use clubs with long shafts and long head to play the drive.
The golfers strike the ball once it comes to rest. They strike the ball again and again till the target of the game, putting the ball in the hole in the putting green, is reached.
The shots the players use are variously known as “lay-up”, “approach”, “pitch” and “chip”.
The goal of the game is putting the ball in the hole with the minimum shots possible. Rough, doglegs, bunkers and water hazards are the structures that make it difficult for the players to get the ball into the hole in a few strokes.
After many strokes, if it becomes impossible for the player to get the hole, he/she can surrender the hole. Surrendering the hole is also allowed after the player hits three strokes more than the ‘par’ rating of the hole.
The total distance of the golf course may exceed 6.4 km. In some golf courses, electric cars are in use to travel the distance between shots.
Golfers carry the golf bag themselves but in some golf courses, the golfers have ‘caddie’ to carry the bag. The caddie can also offer advice about the course of the play to the golfer he/she is concerned about.
Rules and regulations in golf
‘Play the course as you find it, play the ball as it lies and if you can’t do either, do what is fair’ – Golf is a game of etiquette and conscience and the game will be rewarding if you play it by the rules and regulations.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) governs the Rules of Golf in the United States and it has been the primary governing body for golf since 1894.
The USGA, in conjunction with The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, is responsible for establishing the rules of play.
You should not move the ball and should play it where it lies unless rules permit the movement.
You can’t change the golf course to gain an advantage unless there is a rule which allows a specific change.
When you are in a bunker or water hazard, your golf club should not touch the ground or water before your swinging. The touching would lead to a penalty stroke.
Playing the wrong golf ball imparts a two-stroke penalty.
When the ball is on the green, you can lift the ball to clean it or to get it out of another golfer’s way.
During putting, the ball should not hit the flag and it will result in a two-stroke penalty.
Losing the ball in a water hazard implies a penalty stroke and you can drop the ball behind the hazard, in line with the golf hole.
When you hit the ball out of bounds, you get a penalty stroke for it and you can replay the shot.
When the ball is unplayable, you can drop the ball behind two club-lengths and you’ll get a penalty stroke for it.
Golfers can carry a maximum of 14 clubs in the golf bag.
The golf ball is made up of beech which is a hardwood material. The standard diameter of the ball is 42.67 mm and the weight of the ball should not exceed 45.93 gm.
Golf clubs are generally made of iron or wood. The golfers use clubs of various lengths and weights to play the shots. The type of shots the golfers choose depends on the position of the ball in the golf course.
Nowadays, a hybrid club which is a combination of wood and iron is in use.
In certain circumstances, the players have to change the position of the ball or have to carry the ball by hand. Here ball markers are useful in marking the position of the ball.
The metal or plastic ball markers are generally round.
The golf bags are bigger in size to accommodate the golf clubs. The bags which are of leather or nylon material, have divisions inside to hold the clubs separately.
There are many categories of bags available such as Sunday bags, cart bags, staff bags, etc.
As the golf course is a field of very vast stretch, vehicles also help in the transportation of players and their bags. Any have, the governing bodies have some restrictions about the usage of vehicles.
The vehicles in use are battery operated or electrically operated but petrol vehicles are not used in the golf courses.
The players use the towels to wipe the hands and the balls. The towels are attached to the bag for easy handling.
Club heads are protecting materials that cover the head of the clubs. The club heads are usually of wood or leather and protect the clubs from colliding with each other. Also, it protects the clubs from any accidental damage.
The golfers use the gloves for better gripping of the clubs and also to avoid blistering on the hands. Generally, the players wear the gloves on the dominant hand.
How to play golf
People play golf either as a fun sport or as a game of relaxation. Only a few people play it as a competitive sport. However, the game is suitable for all to play and enjoy the moments.
To start to play as a beginner, you have to know the basic rules, the techniques to swing the golf clubs, the know-how about the equipment and the other golf course etiquette.
Learn the object of the game
As we already noted, the object of the game is to put the golf ball into the physical hole in the putting green area. The golfer in his play from the staring tee to the putting green should try to play the minimum number of strokes.
Follow the order of the holes
Every golf course has a different structure and you have to play the holes in the given order. So, it’s always better to start with a map of the course in your hand or by following a group which has at least one person who knows the course well.
Follow the turn to strike:
Every golfer should be aware of his/her turn to strike the ball to avoid the confusion. The person with the best score from the previous hole starts in the tee off in the present hole and he/she will be the first person to strike the ball.
After hitting the ball, the person who hits the ball farthest will hit first, the second farthest will hit second and so on.
Strike the ball as it is
In playing golf, the ball landing in an unexpected area happens. In such situations, you should not pick up the ball and should strike the ball from where it lies. You can move the ball from the place as per the rules if it lands on a man-made obstruction.
For hitting the ball out of bounds or for hitting it into the water, you have to take a one-stroke penalty. In that case, you have to drop the ball again to the place from where you hit it.
Watch your score in each hole
Each hole has a fixed number of strokes as the best one to put the ball into the hole and it is called “Par.” The par ranges between 3 to 5 and each hole is identified by the par, as “Par 3,” “Par 4” or “Par 5.”
Moreover, the score on each hole has a name for it. When you score 2 under par, it is called an “Eagle.” ( You stroke only 3 times in a 5 par hole). Similarly, 1 under par is a “Birdie” and shooting with the strokes even with the par is called just “Par.”
On the other hand, shooting 1 over par is called “Bogey.” Then 2 over par is called “Double Bogey,” and so on.
Hit by the lowest number of strokes and win
After completing every hole, compare your score with the par of the hole. When you hit each time with the “Par” or “Below Par” value, you are doing well.
Hitting with over par value is a normal occurrence for the beginners and it takes regular practice to perfect the game.
The person with the lowest overall number of strokes in the group wins the game.
Set the swinging of the golf club
To get the right position to swing your club, you have to stand on your feet with hip-width apart. While the knees and hips are slightly bent, you have to lean forward and the club should touch the ground. Most importantly the weight of your body should be evenly distributed between the centers of your feet.
While hitting the ball, the non-dominant side of your body should face the target. For a right-handed golfer, his left side of the body faces the hole while swinging the club.
You should keep your dominant arm close to your body, and when your arms pass the dominant side legs, the weight should start shifting to that leg.
Move the club up at a 90-degree angle
Then you have to fold your elbows to hold the club straight up and 90 degrees from your arms. The continuous moving of weight to your dominant side happens and the club will be in a parallel position to the ground.
During this movement, you should feel your shoulders in upward rotation. The toe of the golf club will now face the opposite side of the direction of swinging and you get more weight on your dominant hip.
Position your shoulders to bring the club up
Now twist your shoulders and the non-dominant side of your shoulder should be below your chin. The subsequent stretch of the lateral muscle also aids the holding of the club up 180 degrees over your head.
The hands should be as close as possible and placing it in the 1 o’clock position gives the maximum stretch to the club.
Now as you are ready to strike, your dominant hip, ankle, and shoulder should feel ready to get downward toward the ball.
Hitting the Ball
When you started to swing the club, you have to shift your weight to the other side of your body.
Then the shifting of the weight should move towards the direction of the swinging as you bring your club down.
Your front portion of the body should face the ball while your dominant elbow passes in front of your dominant hip.
When you make contact with the ball, your hip continues to turn and your body will face the direction of your target. Now your weight will be on the non-dominant side of your body.
Keep proper follow-through
You should not stop your swinging after you hit the ball. In the follow-through, you should bring your arms and club up to be in a parallel position to the ground in the direction of the target.
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