Golf

Golf is a club-and-ball sport in which players use various clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible.

Golf, unlike most ball games, cannot and does not utilize a standardized playing area, and coping with the varied terrains encountered on different courses is a key part of the game. The game at the usual level is played on a course with an arranged progression of 18 holes, though recreational courses can be smaller, often having 9 holes. Each hole on the course must contain a tee box to start from, and a putting green containing the actual hole or cup 4 14 inches (11 cm) in diameter. There are other standard forms of terrain in between, such as the fairway, rough (long grass), bunkers (or "sand traps"), and various hazards (water, rocks) but each hole on a course is unique in its specific layout and arrangement.

Golf is played for the lowest number of strokes by an individual, known as stroke play, or the lowest score on the most individual holes in a complete round by an individual or team, known as match play. Stroke play is the most commonly seen format at all levels, but most especially at the elite level.

The modern game of golf originated in 15th century Scotland. The 18-hole round was created at the Old Course at St Andrews in 1764. Golf's first major, and the world's oldest tournament in existence, is The Open Championship, also known as the British Open, which was first played in 1860 in Ayrshire, Scotland. This is one of the four major championships in men's professional golf, the other three being played in the United States: The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship.

Golf
Golfer swing
A golfer in the finishing position after hitting a tee shot
Highest governing bodyR&A
USGA
International Golf Federation
First played15th century, Kingdom of Scotland
Characteristics
ContactNo
TypeOutdoor
EquipmentGolf clubs, golf balls, and others
GlossaryGlossary of golf
Presence
Olympic1900, 1904, 2016,[1] 2020[2]

Origin

The MacDonald boys playing golf
The MacDonald boys playing golf, attributed to William Mosman. 18th century, National Galleries of Scotland.

While the modern game of golf originated in 15th-century Scotland, the game's ancient origins are unclear and much debated. Some historians[3] trace the sport back to the Roman game of paganica, in which participants used a bent stick to hit a stuffed leather ball. One theory asserts that paganica spread throughout Europe as the Romans conquered most of the continent, during the first century BC, and eventually evolved into the modern game.[4] Others cite chuiwan ("chui" means striking and "wan" means small ball) as the progenitor, a Chinese game played between the eighth and fourteenth centuries.[5] A Ming Dynasty scroll dating back to 1368 entitled "The Autumn Banquet" shows a member of the Chinese Imperial court swinging what appears to be a golf club at a small ball with the aim of sinking it into a hole. The game is thought to have been introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages. Another early game that resembled modern golf was known as cambuca in England and chambot in France.[6] The Persian game chaugán is another possible ancient origin. In addition, kolven (a game involving a ball and curved bats) was played annually in Loenen, Netherlands, beginning in 1297, to commemorate the capture of the assassin of Floris V, a year earlier.

Four gentlemen golfers on the tee of a golf course (5014828806)
Four gentlemen golfers on the tee of a golf course, 1930s
Competición de golf femenino en Lasarte (2 de 2) - Fondo Car-Kutxa Fototeka
Female golfer in a competition in Spain in 1915.

The modern game originated in Scotland, where the first written record of golf is James II's banning of the game in 1457, as an unwelcome distraction to learning archery.[7] James IV lifted the ban in 1502 when he became a golfer himself, with golf clubs first recorded in 1503–1504: "For golf clubbes and balles to the King that he playit with".[8] To many golfers, the Old Course at St Andrews, a links course dating to before 1574, is considered to be a site of pilgrimage.[9] In 1764, the standard 18-hole golf course was created at St Andrews when members modified the course from 22 to 18 holes.[10] Golf is documented as being played on Musselburgh Links, East Lothian, Scotland as early as 2 March 1672, which is certified as the oldest golf course in the world by Guinness World Records.[11][12] The oldest surviving rules of golf were compiled in March 1744 for the Company of Gentlemen Golfers, later renamed The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which was played at Leith, Scotland.[13] The world's oldest golf tournament in existence, and golf's first major, is The Open Championship, which was first played on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, in Ayrshire, Scotland, with Scottish golfers winning the earliest majors.[14] Two Scotsmen from Dunfermline, John Reid and Robert Lockhart, first demonstrated golf in the U.S. by setting up a hole in an orchard in 1888, with Reid setting up America's first golf club the same year, Saint Andrew's Golf Club in Yonkers, New York.[15]

Golf course

Golf course Golfplatz Wittenbeck Mecklenburg Ostsee Baltic Sea Germany
Aerial view of the Golfplatz Wittenbeck in Mecklenburg, Germany

A golf course consists of either 9 or 18 holes, each with a teeing ground that is set off by two markers showing the bounds of the legal tee area, fairway, rough and other hazards, and the putting green surrounded by the fringe with the pin (normally a flagstick) and cup.

The levels of grass are varied to increase difficulty, or to allow for putting in the case of the green. While many holes are designed with a direct line-of-sight from the teeing area to the green, some holes may bend either to the left or to the right. This is commonly called a "dogleg", in reference to a dog's knee. The hole is called a "dogleg left" if the hole angles leftwards and "dogleg right" if it bends right. Sometimes, a hole's direction may bend twice; this is called a "double dogleg".

A regular golf course consists of 18 holes, but nine-hole courses are common and can be played twice through for a full round of 18 holes.[16][17]

Early Scottish golf courses were primarily laid out on links land, soil-covered sand dunes directly inland from beaches.[18] This gave rise to the term "golf links", particularly applied to seaside courses and those built on naturally sandy soil inland.

The first 18-hole golf course in the United States was on a sheep farm in Downers Grove, Illinois, in 1892. The course is still there today.[19]

Play of the game

Golf field
1=teeing ground, 2=water hazard, 3=rough, 4=out of bounds, 5=sand bunker, 6=water hazard, 7=fairway, 8=putting green, 9=flagstick, 10=hole

Every round of golf is based on playing a number of holes in a given order. A "round" typically consists of 18 holes that are played in the order determined by the course layout. Each hole is played once in the round on a standard course of 18 holes. The game can be played by any number of people, although a typical group playing will have 1-4 people playing the round. The typical amount of time required for pace of play for a 9-hole round is two hours and four hours for an 18-hole round.

Playing a hole on a golf course is initiated by putting a ball into play by striking it with a club on the teeing ground (also called the tee box, or simply the tee). For this first shot on each hole, it is allowed but not required for the golfer to place the ball on a tee prior to striking it. A tee is a small peg that can be used to elevate the ball slightly above the ground up to a few centimetres high. Tees are commonly made of wood but may be constructed of any material, including plastic. Traditionally, golfers used mounds of sand to elevate the ball, and containers of sand were provided for the purpose. A few courses still require sand to be used instead of peg tees, to reduce litter and reduce damage to the teeing ground. Tees help reduce the interference of the ground or grass on the movement of the club making the ball easier to hit, and also places the ball in the very centre of the striking face of the club (the "sweet spot") for better distance.

When the initial shot on a hole is intended to move the ball a long distance, typically more than 225 yards (210 m), the shot is commonly called a "drive" and is generally made with a long-shafted, large-headed wood club called a "driver". Shorter holes may be initiated with other clubs, such as higher-numbered woods or irons. Once the ball comes to rest, the golfer strikes it again as many times as necessary using shots that are variously known as a "lay-up", an "approach", a "pitch", or a "chip", until the ball reaches the green, where he or she then "putts" the ball into the hole (commonly called "sinking the putt" or "holing out"). The goal of getting the ball into the hole ("holing" the ball) in as few strokes as possible may be impeded by obstacles such as areas of longer grass called "rough" (usually found alongside fairways), which both slows any ball that contacts it and makes it harder to advance a ball that has stopped on it; "doglegs", which are changes in the direction of the fairway that often require shorter shots to play around them; bunkers (or sand traps); and water hazards such as ponds or streams.[16]

In stroke play competitions played according to strict rules, each player plays his or her ball until it is holed no matter how many strokes that may take. In match play it is acceptable to simply pick up one's ball and "surrender the hole" after enough strokes have been made by a player that it is mathematically impossible for the player to win the hole. It is also acceptable in informal stroke play to surrender the hole after hitting three strokes more than the "par" rating of the hole (a "triple bogey" - see below); while technically a violation of Rule 3-2, this practice speeds play as a courtesy to others, and avoids "runaway scores", excessive frustration and injuries caused by overexertion.

The total distance from the first tee box to the 18th green can be quite long; total yardages "through the green" can be in excess of 7,000 yards (6.4 km), and when adding in the travel distance between the green of one hole and the tee of the next, even skilled players may easily travel five miles (8 km) or more during a round. At some courses, electric golf carts are used to travel between shots, which can speed-up play and allows participation by individuals unable to walk a whole round. On other courses players generally walk the course, either carrying their bag using a shoulder strap or using a "golf trolley" for their bag. These trolleys may or may not be battery assisted. At many amateur tournaments including U.S. high school and college play, players are required to walk and to carry their own bags, but at the professional and top amateur level, as well as at high-level private clubs, players may be accompanied by caddies, who carry and manage the players' equipment and who are allowed by the rules to give advice on the play of the course.[20] A caddie's advice can only be given to the player or players for whom the caddie is working, and not to other competing players.

Rules and regulations

The rules of golf are internationally standardised and are jointly governed by The R&A, spun off in 2004 from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (founded 1754), and the United States Golf Association (USGA).[21][22]

The underlying principle of the rules is fairness. As stated on the back cover of the official rule book:

Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.

There are strict regulations regarding the amateur status of golfers.[23] Essentially, anybody who has ever received payment or compensation for giving instruction, or played golf for money, is not considered an amateur and may not participate in competitions limited solely to amateurs. However, amateur golfers may receive expenses that comply with strict guidelines and they may accept non-cash prizes within the limits established by the Rules of Amateur Status.

In addition to the officially printed rules, golfers also abide by a set of guidelines called golf etiquette. Etiquette guidelines cover matters such as safety, fairness, pace of play, and a player's obligation to contribute to the care of the course. Though there are no penalties for breach of etiquette rules, players generally follow the rules of golf etiquette in an effort to improve everyone's playing experience.

Penalties

Penalties are incurred in certain situations. They are counted towards a player's score as if there were extra swing(s) at the ball. Strokes are added for rule infractions or for hitting one's ball into an unplayable situation.

A lost ball or a ball hit out of bounds result in a penalty of one stroke and distance (Rule 27–1). A one-stroke penalty is assessed if a player's equipment causes the ball to move or the removal of a loose impediment causes the ball to move (Rule 18–2). A one-stroke penalty is assessed if a player's ball results into a red or yellow staked hazard (Rule 26). If a golfer makes a stroke at the wrong ball (Rule 19–2) or hits a fellow golfer's ball with a putt (Rule 19–5), the player incurs a two-stroke penalty. Most rule infractions lead to stroke penalties but also can lead to disqualification. Disqualification could be from cheating, signing for a lower score, or from rule infractions that lead to improper play.[24]

Equipment

Golf ball resting near fairway wood
A wood positioned ready to be swung and to strike a golf ball

Golf clubs are used to hit the golf ball. Each club is composed of a shaft with a lance (or "grip") on the top end and a club head on the bottom. Long clubs, which have a lower amount of degree loft, are those meant to propel the ball a comparatively longer distance, and short clubs a higher degree of loft and a comparatively shorter distance. The actual physical length of each club is longer or shorter, depending on the distance the club is intended to propel the ball.

Golf clubs have traditionally been arranged into three basic types. Woods are large-headed, long-shafted clubs meant to propel the ball a long distance from relatively "open" lies, such as the tee box and fairway. Of particular importance is the driver or "1-wood", which is the lowest lofted wood club, and in modern times has become highly specialized for making extremely long-distance tee shots, up to 300 yards (270 m), or more, in a professional golfer's hands. Traditionally these clubs had heads made of a hardwood, hence the name, but virtually all modern woods are now made of metal such as titanium, or of composite materials. Irons are shorter-shafted clubs with a metal head primarily consisting of a flat, angled striking face. Traditionally the clubhead was forged from iron; modern iron clubheads are investment-cast from a steel alloy. Irons of varying loft are used for a variety of shots from virtually anywhere on the course, but most often for shorter-distance shots approaching the green, or to get the ball out of tricky lies such as sand traps. The third class is the putter, which evolved from the irons to create a low-lofted, balanced club designed to roll the ball along the green and into the hole. Putters are virtually always used on the green or in the surrounding rough/fringe. A fourth class, called hybrids, evolved as a cross between woods and irons, and are typically seen replacing the low-lofted irons with a club that provides similar distance, but a higher launch angle and a more forgiving nature.

A maximum of 14 clubs is allowed in a player's bag at one time during a stipulated round. The choice of clubs is at the golfer's discretion, although every club must be constructed in accordance with parameters outlined in the rules. (Clubs that meet these parameters are usually called "conforming".) Violation of these rules can result in disqualification.

The exact shot hit at any given time on a golf course, and which club is used to accomplish the shot, are always completely at the discretion of the golfer; in other words, there is no restriction whatsoever on which club a golfer may or may not use at any time for any shot.

Golf balls are spherical, usually white (although other colours are allowed), and minutely pock-marked by dimples that decrease aerodynamic drag by increasing air turbulence around the ball in motion, which delays "boundary layer" separation and reduces the drag-inducing "wake" behind the ball, thereby allowing the ball to fly farther.[25] The combination of a soft "boundary layer" and a hard "core" enables both distance and spin.

A tee is allowed only for the first stroke on each hole, unless the player must hit a provisional tee shot or replay his or her first shot from the tee.

Many golfers wear golf shoes with metal or plastic spikes designed to increase traction, thus allowing for longer and more accurate shots.

A golf bag is used to transport golf clubs and the player's other or personal equipment. Golf bags have several pockets designed for carrying equipment and supplies such as tees, balls, and gloves. Golf bags can be carried, pulled on a trolley or harnessed to a motorized golf cart during play. Golf bags have both a hand strap and shoulder strap for carrying, and sometimes have retractable legs that allow the bag to stand upright when at rest.

Stroke mechanics

Lady golfer
A golfer takes an approach shot on the fairway.

The golf swing is outwardly similar to many other motions involving swinging a tool or playing implement, such as an axe or a baseball bat; however, unlike many of these motions, the result of the swing is highly dependent on several sub-motions being properly aligned and timed, to ensure that the club travels up to the ball in line with the desired path, the clubface is in line with the swing path, and the ball hits the centre or "sweet spot" of the clubface. The ability to do this consistently, across a complete set of clubs with a wide range of shaft lengths and clubface areas, is a key skill for any golfer, and takes a significant effort to achieve.

Golfers start with the non-dominant side of the body facing the target (for a right-hander, the target is to their left). At address, the player's body and the centerline of the club face are positioned parallel to the desired line of travel, with the feet either perpendicular to that line or slightly splayed outward. The feet are commonly shoulder-width apart for middle irons and putters, narrower for short irons and wider for long irons and woods. The ball is typically positioned more to the "front" of the player's stance (closer to the leading foot) for lower-lofted clubs, with the usual ball position for a drive being just behind the arch of the leading foot. The ball is placed further "back" in the player's stance (toward the trailing foot) as the loft of the club to be used increases. Most iron shots and putts are made with the ball roughly centered in the stance, while a few mid- and short-iron shots are made with the ball slightly behind the centre of the stance to ensure consistent contact between the ball and clubface, so the ball is on its way before the club continues down into the turf.

The golfer chooses a golf club, grip, and stroke appropriate to the distance:

  • The "drive" or "full swing" is used on the teeing ground and fairway, typically with a wood or long iron, to produce the maximum distance capable with the club. In the extreme, the windup can end with the shaft of the club parallel to the ground above the player's shoulders.
  • The "approach" or "3/4 swing" is used in medium- and long-distance situations where an exact distance and good accuracy is preferable to maximum possible distance, such as to place the ball on the green or "lay up" in front of a hazard. The windup or "backswing" of such a shot typically ends up with the shaft of the club pointing straight upwards or slightly towards the player.
  • The "chip" or "half-swing" is used for relatively short-distance shots near the green, with high-lofted irons and wedges. The goal of the chip is to land the ball safely on the green, allowing it to roll out towards the hole. It can also be used from other places to accurately position the ball into a more advantageous lie. The backswing typically ends with the head of the club between hip and head height.
  • The "putt" is used in short-distance shots on or near the green, typically made with the eponymous "putter", although similar strokes can be made with medium to high-numbered irons to carry a short distance in the air and then roll (a "bump and run"). The backswing and follow-through of the putt are both abbreviated compared to other strokes, with the head of the club rarely rising above the knee. The goal of the putt is usually to put the ball in the hole, although a long-distance putt may be called a "lag" and is made with the primary intention of simply closing distance to the hole or otherwise placing the ball advantageously.

Having chosen a club and stroke to produce the desired distance, the player addresses the ball by taking their stance to the side of it and (except when the ball lies in a hazard) grounding the club behind the ball. The golfer then takes their backswing, rotating the club, their arms and their upper body away from the ball, and then begins their swing, bringing the clubhead back down and around to hit the ball. A proper golf swing is a complex combination of motions, and slight variations in posture or positioning can make a great deal of difference in how well the ball is hit and how straight it travels. The general goal of a player making a full swing is to propel the clubhead as fast as possible while maintaining a single "plane" of motion of the club and clubhead, to send the clubhead into the ball along the desired path of travel and with the clubhead also pointing that direction.

Accuracy and consistency are typically stressed over pure distance. A player with a straight drive that travels only 220 yards (200 m) will nevertheless be able to accurately place the ball into a favourable lie on the fairway, and can make up for the lesser distance of any given club by simply using "more club" (a lower loft) on their tee shot or on subsequent fairway and approach shots. However, a golfer with a drive that may go 280 yards (260 m) but often doesn't fly straight will be less able to position their ball advantageously; the ball may "hook", "pull", "draw", "fade", "push" or "slice" off the intended line and land out of bounds or in the rough or hazards, and thus the player will require many more strokes to hole out.

Musculature

A golf stroke uses the muscles of the core (especially erector spinae muscles and latissimus dorsi muscle when turning), hamstring, shoulder, and wrist. Stronger muscles in the wrist can prevent them from being twisted during swings, whilst stronger shoulders increase the turning force. Weak wrists can also transmit the force to elbows and even neck and lead to injury. (When a muscle contracts, it pulls equally from both ends and, to have movement at only one end of the muscle, other muscles must come into play to stabilize the bone to which the other end of the muscle is attached.) Golf is a unilateral exercise that can break body balances, requiring exercises to keep the balance in muscles.[26][27]

Types of putting

Putting is considered to be the most important component of the game of golf. As the game of golf has evolved, there have been many different putting techniques and grips that have been devised to give golfers the best chance to make putts. When the game originated, golfers would putt with their dominate hand on the bottom of the grip and their weak hand on top of the grip. This grip and putting style is known as "conventional". There are many variations of conventional including overlap, where the golfer overlaps the off hand index finger onto off the dominant pinky; interlock, where the offhand index finger interlocks with the dominant pinky and ring finger; double or triple overlap and so on.[28] Recently, "cross handed" putting has become a popular trend amongst professional golfers and amateurs. Cross handed putting is the idea that the dominant hand is on top of the grip where the weak hand is on the bottom. This grip restricts the motion in your dominant hand and eliminates the possibility of wrist breakdowns through the putting stroke.[29]

Other notable putting styles include "the claw", a style that has the grip directly in between the thumb and index finger of the dominant hand while the palm faces the target.[30] The weak hand placed normally on the putter. Anchored putting, a style that requires a longer putter shaft that can be anchored into the players stomach or below the chin; the idea is to stabilize one end of the putter thus creating a more consistent pendulum stroke. This style will be banned in 2016 on the professional circuits.[31]

Scoring and handicapping

Par

The Phoenician-Canyon
A par-3 hole in Phoenician Golf Club, Scottsdale, Arizona
Grand Cypress New Course 15th hole
A marker stone indicating that this hole is a par-5 hole

A hole is classified by its par, meaning the number of strokes a skilled golfer should require to complete play of the hole.[16] The minimum par of any hole is 3 because par always includes a stroke for the tee shot and two putts. Pars of 4 and 5 strokes are ubiquitous on golf courses; more rarely, a few courses feature par-6 and even par-7 holes. Strokes other than the tee shot and putts are expected to be made from the fairway; for example, a skilled golfer expects to reach the green on a par-4 hole in two strokes—one from the tee (the "drive") and another, second, stroke to the green (the "approach")—and then roll the ball into the hole in two putts for par. Putting the ball on the green with two strokes remaining for putts is called making "green in regulation" or GIR.[32] Missing a GIR does not necessarily mean a golfer will not make par, but it does make doing so more difficult as it reduces the number of putts available; conversely, making a GIR does not guarantee a par, as the player might require three or more putts to "hole out". Professional golfers typically make between 60% and 70% of greens in regulation.[33]

The primary factor for classifying the par of a relatively straight, hazard-free hole is the distance from the tee to the green. A typical par-3 hole is less than 250 yards (230 m) in length, with a par-4 hole ranging between 251–275 yards (230–251 m), and a par-5 hole being longer than 475 yards (434 m). The rare par-6s can stretch well over 650 yards (590 m). These distances are based on the typical scratch golfer's drive distance of between 240 and 280 yards (220 and 260 m); a green further than the average player's drive will require additional shots from the fairway. However, other considerations must be taken into account; the key question is "how many strokes would a scratch golfer take to make the green by playing along the fairway?". The grade of the land from the tee to the hole might increase or decrease the carry and rolling distance of shots as measured linearly along the ground. Sharp turns or hazards may require golfers to "lay up" on the fairway in order to change direction or hit over the hazard with their next shot. These design considerations will affect how even a scratch golfer would play the hole, irrespective of total distance from tee to green, and must be included in a determination of par.[34] However, a par score never includes "expected" penalty strokes, as a scratch player is never "expected" to hit a ball into a water hazard or other unplayable situation. So the placement of hazards only affect par when considering how a scratch golfer would avoid them.

Eighteen-hole courses typically total to an overall par score of 72 for a complete round; this is based on an average par of 4 for every hole, and so is often arrived at by designing a course with an equal number of par-5 and par-3 holes, the rest being par-4. Many combinations exist that total to par-72, and other course pars exist from 68 up to 76, and are not less worthy than courses of par-72. Additionally, in some countries including the United States, courses are classified according to their play difficulty, which may be used to calculate a golfer's playing handicap for a given course.[35]

The two primary difficulty ratings in the U.S. are the Course Rating, which is effectively the expected score for a zero-handicap "scratch golfer" playing the course (and may differ from the course par), and the Slope Rating, which is a measure of how much worse a "bogey golfer" (with an 18 handicap) would be expected to play than a "scratch golfer". These two numbers are available for any USGA-sanctioned course, and are used in a weighted system to calculate handicaps (see below).

The overall par score in a tournament is the summation of all the par scores in each round. A typical four-round professional tournament played on a par-72 course has a tournament par of 288.

Scoring

The goal is to play as few strokes per round as possible. A golfer's number of strokes in a hole, course, or tournament is compared to its respective par score, and is then reported either as the number that the golfer was "under-" or "over-par", or if it was "equal to par". A hole in one (or an "ace") occurs when a golfer sinks their ball into the cup with their first stroke from the tee. Common scores for a hole also have specific terms.[16]

Numeric term Name Definition
−4 Condor four strokes under par
−3 Albatross (Double Eagle) three strokes under par
−2 Eagle two strokes under par
−1 Birdie one stroke under par
E Par equal to par
+1 Bogey one stroke over par
+2 Double bogey two strokes over par
+3 Triple bogey three strokes over par

In a typical professional tournament or among "scratch" amateur players, "birdie-bogey" play is common; a player will "lose" a stroke by bogeying a hole, then "gain" one by scoring a birdie. Eagles are uncommon but not rare; however, only 18 players have scored an albatross in a men's major championship.

Basic forms of golf

There are two basic forms of golf play, match play and stroke play. Stroke play is more popular.

Match play

Two players (or two teams) play each hole as a separate contest against each other in what is called match play. The party with the lower score wins that hole, or if the scores of both players or teams are equal the hole is "halved" (or tied). The game is won by the party that wins more holes than the other. In the case that one team or player has taken a lead that cannot be overcome in the number of holes remaining to be played, the match is deemed to be won by the party in the lead, and the remainder of the holes are not played. For example, if one party already has a lead of six holes, and only five holes remain to be played on the course, the match is over and the winning party is deemed to have won "6 & 5". At any given point, if the lead is equal to the number of holes remaining, the party leading the match is said to be "dormie", and the match is continued until the party increases the lead by one hole or ties any of the remaining holes, thereby winning the match, or until the match ends in a tie with the lead player's opponent winning all remaining holes. When the game is tied after the predetermined number of holes have been played, it may be continued until one side takes a one-hole lead.[16]

Stroke play

The score achieved for each and every hole of the round or tournament is added to produce the total score, and the player with the lowest score wins in stroke play. Stroke play is the game most commonly played by professional golfers. If there is a tie after the regulation number of holes in a professional tournament, a playoff takes place between all tied players. Playoffs either are sudden death or employ a pre-determined number of holes, anywhere from three to a full 18. In sudden death, a player who scores lower on a hole than all of his opponents wins the match. If at least two players remain tied after such a playoff using a pre-determined number of holes, then play continues in sudden death format, where the first player to win a hole wins the tournament.

Other forms of play

The other forms of play in the game of golf are bogey competition, skins, 9-points, stableford, team play, and unofficial team variations.

Bogey competition

A bogey competition is a scoring format sometimes seen in at informal tournaments. Its scoring is similar to match play, except each player compares their hole score to the hole's par rating instead of the score of another player. The player "wins" the hole if they score a birdie or better, they "lose" the hole if they score a bogey or worse, and they "halve" the hole by scoring par. By recording only this simple win-loss-halve score on the sheet, a player can shrug off a very poorly-played hole with a simple "-" mark and move on. As used in competitions, the player or pair with the best win-loss "differential" wins the competition.

Skins

The Skins Game is a variation on the match play where each hole has an amount of money (called "skin") attached to it. The lump sum may be prize money at the professional level (the most famous event to use these rules was the "LG Skins Game", played at Indian Wells Golf Resort in California until 2008), or an amount wagered for each hole among amateur players. The player with the lowest score on the hole wins the skin for that hole; if two or more players tie for the lowest score, the skin carries over to the next hole. The game continues until a player wins a hole outright, which may (and evidently often does) result in a player receiving money for a previous hole that they had not tied for.

If players tie the 18th hole, either all players or only the tying players repeat the 18th hole until an outright winner is decided for that hole—and all undecided skins.

9-Points

A nine-point game is another variant of match play typically played among threesomes, where each hole is worth a total of nine points. The player with the lowest score on a hole receives five points, the next-lowest score 3 and the next-lowest score 1. Ties are generally resolved by summing the points contested and dividing them among the tying players; a two-way tie for first is worth four points to both players, a two-way tie for second is worth two points to both players, and a three-way tie is worth three points to each player. The player with the highest score after 18 holes (in which there are 162 points to be awarded) wins the game. This format can be used to wager on the game systematically; players each contribute the same amount of money to the pot, and a dollar value is assigned to each point scored (or each point after 18) based on the amount of money in the pot, with any overage going to the overall winner.[36][37]

Stableford

The Stableford system is a simplification of stroke play that awards players points based on their score relative to the hole's par; the score for a hole is calculated by taking the par score, adding 2, then subtracting the player's hole score, making the result zero if negative. Alternately stated, a double bogey or worse is zero points, a bogey is worth one point, par is two, a birdie three, an eagle four, and so on. The advantages of this system over stroke play are a more natural "higher is better" scoring, the ability to compare Stableford scores between plays on courses with different total par scores (scoring an "even" in stroke play will always give a Stableford score of 36), discouraging the tendency to abandon the entire game after playing a particularly bad hole (a novice playing by strict rules may score as high as an 8 or 10 on a single difficult hole; their Stableford score for the hole would be zero, which puts them only two points behind par no matter how badly they played), and the ability to simply pick up one's ball once it is impossible to score any points for the hole, which speeds play.

The USGA and R&A sanction a "Modified Stableford" system for scratch players, which makes par worth zero, a birdie worth 2, eagle 5 and double-eagle 8, while a bogey is a penalty of −1 and a double-bogey or worse −3. As with the original system, the highest score wins the game, and terrible scores on one or two holes won't wreck an entire game, but this system rewards "bogey-birdie" play more than the original, encouraging golfers to try to make the riskier birdie putt or eagle chipshot instead of simply parring each hole.[16]

Team play

Junín Golf Club 20101031 001
Junín Golf Club, in Junín, Argentina
  • Foursome: defined in Rule 29, this is played between two teams of two players each, in which each team has only one ball and players alternate playing it. For example, if players "A" and "B" form a team, "A" tees off on the first hole, "B" will play the second shot, "A" the third, and so on until the hole is finished. On the second hole, "B" will tee off (regardless who played the last putt on the first hole), then "A" plays the second shot, and so on. Foursomes can be played as match play or stroke play.[38]
  • Fourball: defined in Rules 30 and 31, this is also played between two teams of two players each, but every player plays their own ball and for each team, the lower score on each hole counts. Fourballs can be played as match play or stroke play.[39]
  • Scramble: also known as ambrose or best-shot; each player in a team tees off on each hole, and the players decide which shot was best. Every player then plays their second shot from within a clublength of where the best shot has come to rest (and no closer to the hole), and the procedure is repeated until the hole is finished. This system is very common at informal tournaments such as for charity, as it speeds play (due to the reduced number of shots taken from bad lies), allows teams of varying sizes, and allows players of widely varying skill levels to participate without profoundly affecting team score.
  • Champagne scramble: a combination of a scramble and best-ball, only the first shot of each hole is a scramble; all players tee off, decide on the best tee shot, then each player plays their own ball starting at that point until they hole out, without deciding any further "best shots". The best score amongst the team's players is counted.[40]
  • Better ball or best-ball: like fourball, each player plays the hole as normal, but the lowest score of all the players on the team counts as the team's score for the hole.[41]
  • Greensome (also known as Scotch Foursomes): also called modified alternate shot, this is played in pairs; both players tee off, and then pick the best shot as in a scramble. The player who did not shoot the best first shot plays the second shot. The play then alternates as in a foursome.[42] A variant of greensome is sometimes played where the opposing team chooses which of their opponent's tee shots the opponents should use. The player who did not shoot the chosen first shot plays the second shot. Play then continues as a greensome.
  • Wolf (also known as Ship, Captain & Crew, Captain, Pig): a version of match play; with a foursome an order of play for each player is established for the duration of the round. The first player hits a ball from the tee, then waits for each successive player to hit (2nd, 3rd and 4th). After each player hits the 1st player has the option of choosing a partner for the hole (the 1st player is the Wolf for that hole) usually by calling Wolf before the next player hits. Once a partner is picked, each two-some (the Wolf and his or her partner vs the remaining two players) scores their total strokes and the winning two-some is awarded 1-point each for winning a hole and zero points for tying. The next hole, the rotation moves forward (e.g. the 2nd player is now hitting 1st and the Wolf and the previous Wolf hits last). A Wolf can decide to go alone to win extra points, but they must beat all other players in stroke play on that hole. If alone, the Wolf is awarded 2-points for going alone after everyone has hit or 4 points for declaring Lone Wolf before anyone else hits. If the Lone Wolf loses, to even one player, the 3 other players get 1-point each. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the round. Strategically, care must be taken not to let a low-handicap player run away with all the points by being constantly paired with the Wolf.[43],[44]

Shotgun starts are mainly used for amateur tournament play. In this variant, each of the groups playing starts their game on a different hole, allowing for all players to start and end their round at roughly the same time. All 18 holes are still played, but a player or foursome may, for instance, start on hole 5, play through to the 18th hole, then continue with hole 1 and end on hole 4. This speeds the completion of the entire event as players are not kept waiting for progressive tee times at the first hole. This form of play, as a minor variation to stroke or match play, is neither defined nor disallowed by strict rules and so is used according to local rules for an event.

Handicap systems

A handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur golfer's ability to play golf over the course of 18 holes. A player's handicap generally represents the number of strokes above par that the player will make over the course of an above-average round of golf. The better the player the lower their handicap is. Someone with a handicap of 0 or less is often called a scratch golfer, and would typically score or beat the course par on a round of play (depending on course difficulty).

Calculating a handicap is often complicated, the general reason being that golf courses are not uniformly challenging from course to course or between skill levels. A player scoring even par on Course A might average four over par on course B, while a player averaging 20 over par on course A might average only 16 over on course B. So, to the "scratch golfer", Course B is more difficult, but to the "bogey golfer", Course A is more difficult. The reasons for this are inherent in the types of challenges presented by the same course to both golfers. Distance is often a problem for amateur "bogey" golfers with slower swing speeds, who get less distance with each club, and so typically require more shots to get to the green, raising their score compared to a scratch golfer with a stronger swing. However, courses are often designed with hazard placement to mitigate this advantage, forcing the scratch player to "lay up" to avoid bunkers or water, while the bogey golfer is more or less unaffected as the hazard lies out of their range. Finally, terrain features and fairway maintenance can affect golfers of all skill levels; narrowing the fairway by adding obstacles or widening the rough on each side will typically increase the percentage of shots made from disadvantageous lies, increasing the challenge for all players.

By USGA rules, handicap calculation first requires calculating a "Handicap Differential" for each round of play the player has completed by strict rules. That in itself is a function of the player's "gross adjusted score" (adjustments can be made to mitigate various deviations either from strict rules or from a player's normal capabilities, for handicap purposes only) and two course-specific difficulty ratings: the Course Rating, a calculated expected score for a hypothetical "scratch golfer": and the Slope Rating, a number based on how much worse a hypothetical 20-handicap "bogey golfer" would score compared to the "scratch golfer". The average Slope Rating of all USGA-rated courses as of 2012 is 113, which also factors into the Differential computation.

The most recent Differentials are logged, up to 20 of them, and then the best of these (the number used depends on the number available) are selected, averaged, multiplied by .96 (an "excellence factor" that reduces the handicap of higher-scoring players, encouraging them to play better and thus lower their handicap), and truncated to the tenths place to produce the "Handicap Index". Additional calculations can be used to place higher significance on a player's recent tournament scores. A player's Handicap Index is then multiplied by the Slope Rating of the course to be played, divided by the average Slope Rating of 113, then rounded to the nearest integer to produce the player's Course Handicap.

Once calculated, the Course Handicap is applied in stroke play by simply reducing the player's gross score by the handicap, to produce a net score. So, a gross score of 96 with a handicap of 22 would produce a net score of 74. In match play, the lower handicap is subtracted from the higher handicap, and the resulting handicap strokes are awarded to the higher handicapper by distributing them among the holes according to each hole's difficulty; holes are ranked on the scorecard from 1 to 18 (or however many holes are available), and one stroke is applied to each hole from the most difficult to the least difficult. So, if one player has a 9 handicap and another has a 25 handicap, the 25-handicap player receives one handicap stroke on each of the most difficult 16 holes (25-9). If the 25-handicapper were playing against a "scratch golfer" (zero handicap), all 25 strokes would be distributed, first by applying one stroke to each hole, then applying the remaining strokes, one each, to the most difficult 7 holes; so, the handicap player would subtract 2 strokes from each of the most difficult 7 holes, and 1 each from the remaining 11.

Handicap systems have potential for abuse by players who may intentionally play badly to increase their handicap ("throwing their 'cap") before playing to their potential at an important event with a valuable prize. For this reason, professional golf associations do not use them, but they can be calculated and used along with other criteria to determine the relative strengths of various professional players. Touring professionals, being the best of the best, often have negative handicaps; they can be expected, on average, to score lower than the Course Rating on any course.

Popularity

Golfveld
Part of a golf course in western India
Golf course, Italy - 20070620
An aerial view of a golf course in Italy

In 2005 Golf Digest calculated that the countries with most golf courses per capita, in order, were: Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Canada, Wales, United States, Sweden, and England (countries with fewer than 500,000 people were excluded).

The number of courses in other territories has increased, an example of this being the expansion of golf in China. The first golf course in China opened in 1984, but by the end of 2009 there were roughly 600 in the country. For much of the 21st century, development of new golf courses in China has been officially banned (with the exception of the island province of Hainan), but the number of courses had nonetheless tripled from 2004 to 2009; the "ban" has been evaded with the government's tacit approval simply by not mentioning golf in any development plans.[45]

In the United States, the number of people who play golf twenty-five times or more per year decreased from 6.9 million in 2000 to 4.6 million in 2005,[46] according to the National Golf Foundation. The NGF reported that the number who played golf at all decreased from 30 to 26 million over the same period.[46]

In February 1971, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first person to golf anywhere other than Earth. He smuggled a golf club and two golf balls on board Apollo 14 with the intent to golf on the Moon. He attempted two drives. He shanked the first attempt, but it is estimated his second went more than 200 yards (180 m).[47]

Golf courses worldwide

Number of golf courses by country in 2015. Below are the top 18 countries that have the most golf courses.[48]

Country Number of courses %
USA 15,372 45%
Japan 2,383 7%
Canada 2,363 7%
England 2,084 6%
Australia 1,628 5%
Germany 747 2%
France 648 2%
Scotland 552 2%
South Africa 512 2%
Sweden 491 1%
China 473 1%
Ireland 472 1%
South Korea 447 1%
Spain 437 1%
New Zealand 418 1%
Argentina 319 1%
Italy 285 1%
India 270 1%
Rest of the world 4,110 12%
Total 34,011

Professional golf

The majority of professional golfers work as club or teaching professionals ("pros"), and only compete in local competitions. A small elite of professional golfers are "tournament pros" who compete full-time on international "tours". Many club and teaching professionals working in the golf industry start as caddies or with a general interest in the game, finding employment at golf courses and eventually moving on to certifications in their chosen profession. These programs include independent institutions and universities, and those that eventually lead to a Class A golf professional certification. Touring professionals typically start as amateur players, who attain their "pro" status after success in major tournaments that win them either prize money and/or notice from corporate sponsors. Jack Nicklaus, for example, gained widespread notice by finishing second in the 1960 U.S. Open to champion Arnold Palmer, with a 72-hole score of 282 (the best score to date in that tournament by an amateur). He played one more amateur year in 1961, winning that year's U.S. Amateur Championship, before turning pro in 1962.

Instruction

Indoor Putting Green
Indoor putting green for practice and instruction

Golf instruction involves the teaching and learning of the game of golf. Proficiency in teaching golf instruction requires not only technical and physical ability but also knowledge of the rules and etiquette of the game. In some countries, golf instruction is best performed by teachers certified by the Professional Golfers Association. Some top instructors who work with professional golfers have become quite well known in their own right. Professional golf instructors can use physical conditioning, mental visualization, classroom sessions, club fitting, driving range instruction, on-course play under real conditions, and review of videotaped swings in slow motion to teach golf to prepare the golfer for the course.

Golf tours

There are at least twenty professional golf tours, each run by a PGA or an independent tour organization, which is responsible for arranging events, finding sponsors, and regulating the tour. Typically a tour has "members" who are entitled to compete in most of its events, and also invites non-members to compete in some of them. Gaining membership of an elite tour is highly competitive, and most professional golfers never achieve it.

All Black
Gary Player is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of golf.

Perhaps the most widely known tour is the PGA Tour, which tends to attract the strongest fields, outside the four Majors and the four World Golf Championships events. This is due mostly to the fact that most PGA Tour events have a first prize of at least 800,000 USD. The European Tour, which attracts a substantial number of top golfers from outside North America, ranks second to the PGA Tour in worldwide prestige. Some top professionals from outside North America play enough tournaments to maintain membership on both the PGA Tour and European Tour. Since 2010, both tours' money titles have been claimed by the same individual three times, with Luke Donald doing so in 2011 and Rory McIlroy in 2012 and 2014. In 2013, Henrik Stenson won the FedEx Cup points race on the PGA Tour and the European Tour money title, but did not top the PGA Tour money list (that honour going to Tiger Woods).

The other leading men's tours include the Japan Golf Tour, the Asian Tour (Asia outside Japan), the PGA Tour of Australasia, and the Sunshine Tour (for southern Africa, primarily South Africa). The Japan, Australasian, Sunshine, PGA, and European Tours are the charter members of the trade body of the world's main tours, the International Federation of PGA Tours, founded in 1996. The Asian Tour became a full member in 1999. The Canadian Tour became an associate member of the Federation in 2000, and the Tour de las Américas (Latin America) became an associate member of the Federation in 2007. The Federation underwent a major expansion in 2009 that saw eleven new tours become full members – the Canadian Tour, Tour de las Américas, China Golf Association, the Korea Professional Golfers' Association, Professional Golf Tour of India, and the operators of all six major women's tours worldwide. The OneAsia Tour, founded in 2009, is not a member of the Federation, but was founded as a joint venture of the Australasia, China, Japan, and Korean tours. In 2011, the Tour de las Américas was effectively taken over by the PGA Tour, and in 2012 was folded into the new PGA Tour Latinoamérica. Also in 2012, the Canadian Tour was renamed PGA Tour Canada after it agreed to be taken over by the PGA Tour. All men's tours that are Federation members, except the India tour, offer points in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) to players who place sufficiently high in their events. The OneAsia Tour also offers ranking points.

Golf is unique in having lucrative competition for older players. There are several senior tours for men aged fifty and over, arguably the best known of which is the U.S.-based PGA Tour Champions.

There are six principal tours for women, each based in a different country or continent. The most prestigious of these is the United States-based LPGA Tour. All of the principal tours offer points in the Women's World Golf Rankings for high finishers in their events.

All of the leading professional tours for under-50 players have an official developmental tour, in which the leading players at the end of the season will earn a tour card on the main tour for the following season. Examples include the Web.com Tour, which feeds to the PGA Tour, and the Challenge Tour, which is the developmental tour of the European Tour. The Web.com and Challenge Tours also offer OWGR points.

Men's major championships

Lee Westwood bunker
Lee Westwood pictured making a bunker shot at the 2008 Open

The major championships are the four most prestigious men's tournaments of the year. In chronological order they are: The Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship (referred to in North America as the British Open) and the PGA Championship.[49]

The fields for these events include the top several dozen golfers from all over the world. The Masters has been played at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, since its inception in 1934. It is the only major championship that is played at the same course each year.[50] The U.S. Open and PGA Championship are played at courses around the United States, while the Open Championship is played at courses around the United Kingdom.[51]

Prior to the advent of the PGA Championship and The Masters, the four Majors were the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur, the Open Championship, and the British Amateur.

Women's major championships

2007 LPGA Championship - Lorena Ochoa (1)
Lorena Ochoa, a retired number one female golfer, pictured here in 2007

Women's golf does not have a globally agreed set of majors. The list of majors recognised by the dominant women's tour, the LPGA Tour in the U.S., has changed several times over the years, with the most recent changes occurring in 2001 and 2013. Like the PGA Tour, the (U.S.) LPGA[52] tour long had four majors, but now has five: the ANA Inspiration (previously known by several other names, most recently the Kraft Nabisco Championship), the Women's PGA Championship (previously known as the LPGA Championship),[53] the U.S. Women's Open, the Women's British Open (which replaced the du Maurier Classic as a major in 2001) and The Evian Championship (added as the fifth major in 2013). Only the last two are also recognised as majors by the Ladies European Tour. However, the significance of this is limited, as the LPGA is far more dominant in women's golf than the PGA Tour is in mainstream men's golf. For example, the BBC has been known to use the U.S. definition of "women's majors" without qualifying it. Also, the Ladies' Golf Union, the governing body for women's golf in Great Britain and Ireland, stated on its official website that the Women's British Open was "the only Women's Major to be played outside the U.S."[54] (this was before the elevation of The Evian Championship to major status). For many years, the Ladies European Tour tacitly acknowledged the dominance of the LPGA Tour by not scheduling any of its own events to conflict with the three LPGA majors played in the U.S., but that changed beginning in 2008, when the LET scheduled an event opposite the LPGA Championship. The second-richest women's tour, the LPGA of Japan Tour, does not recognise any of the U.S. LPGA or European majors as it has its own set of majors (historically three, since 2008 four). However, these events attract little notice outside Japan.

Senior major championships

Senior (aged fifty and over) men's golf does not have a globally agreed set of majors. The list of senior majors on the U.S.-based PGA Tour Champions has changed over the years, but always by expansion. PGA Tour Champions now recognises five majors: the Senior PGA Championship, The Tradition, the Senior Players Championship, the United States Senior Open, and The Senior (British) Open Championship.

Of the five events, the Senior PGA is by far the oldest, having been founded in 1937. The other events all date from the 1980s, when senior golf became a commercial success as the first golf stars of the television era, such as Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, reached the relevant age. The Senior Open Championship was not recognised as a major by PGA Tour Champions until 2003. The European Senior Tour recognises only the Senior PGA and the two Senior Opens as majors. However, PGA Tour Champions is arguably more dominant in global senior golf than the U.S. LPGA is in global women's golf.

Olympic Games

After a 112-year absence from the Olympic Games, golf returned for the 2016 Rio Games.[55] 41 different countries were represented by 120 athletes.[56]

Controversy

Women

It wasn't until 1552 that the first woman golfer played the game. Mary Queen of Scots commissioned St. Andrew's Links.[57] However, it wasn't until the 20th century that women were taken seriously and eventually broke the "Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden" rule. Many men saw women as unfit to play the sport due to their lack of strength and ability.

In the United States, 1891 was a pivotal year for ladies golf because the Shinnecock Hills nine-hole course was built in Southampton, New York, for women and was the first club to offer membership to women golfers. Four years later, in 1895, The U.S. Golf Association held the first Women's Amateur Championship tournament.[57][58]

Just like professional golfer Bobby Jones, Joyce Wethered was considered to be a star in the 1920s.[59] Jones praised Wethered in 1930 after they had played an exhibition against each other. He doubted that there had ever been a better golfer, man or woman.[60] However, Bobby Jones' comment wasn't enough for others to change their views on women golfers.

The Royal Liverpool's club refused entry of Sir Henry Cotton's wife into the clubhouse in the late 1940s. The secretary of the club released a statement saying, "No woman ever has entered the clubhouse and, praise God, no woman ever will."[59] However, American golfer and all-around athlete, Babe Zaharias didn't have to enter the clubhouse. She was able to prove herself on the course, going on to become the first American to win the British Women's Amateur title in 1947. The following year she became the first woman to attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open, but her application was rejected by the USGA. They stated that the event was intended to be open to men only.[61]

The Ladies Professional Golf Association was formed in 1950 as a way to popularize the sport and provide competitive opportunities for golfers.[59] The competitions were not the same for the men and women. It wasn't until 1972 that U.S. Congress passed the Title IX of the Education Amendments. "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any education program or activities receiving Federal financial assistance."[62] American Renee Powell moved to the UK in the 1970s to further her career, and became the first woman to play in a British men's tournament in 1977.[63]

Today, women golfers are still fighting and working hard to have the same opportunities as men golfers. There is still a big pay gap in the USGA. The USGA has a long history of writing bigger checks to winners of the men's U.S. Open than the U.S. Women's Open.[64]

International events

See also

References

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External links

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Daniel Palmer (September 10, 1929 – September 25, 2016) was an American professional golfer who is generally regarded as one of the greatest and most charismatic players in the sport's history. Dating back to 1955, he won numerous events on both the PGA Tour and the circuit now known as PGA Tour Champions. Nicknamed The King, he was one of golf's most popular stars and seen as a trailblazer, the first superstar of the sport's television age, which began in the 1950s.

Palmer's social impact on behalf of golf was perhaps unrivaled among fellow professionals; his humble background and plain-spoken popularity helped change the perception of golf from an elite, upper-class pastime (private clubs) to a more populist sport accessible to middle and working classes (public courses). Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player were "The Big Three" in golf during the 1960s; they are widely credited with popularizing and commercializing the sport around the world.

In a career spanning more than six decades, he won 62 PGA Tour titles from 1955 to 1973. As of today, he is fifth on the Tour's all-time victory list, trailing only Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan. He won seven major titles in a six-plus-year domination from the 1958 Masters to the 1964 Masters. He also won the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998, and in 1974 was one of the 13 original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Golf Channel

Golf Channel (also verbally referred to as simply Golf) is an American pay television network owned by the NBC Sports Group subsidiary of NBCUniversal division of Comcast. The channel focuses on coverage of the sport of golf, including live coverage of tournaments, as well as factual and instructional programming. It also houses the Golf Films franchise, a collection of independently produced biographical films that center around key figures and events in the history of golf.

Founded in Birmingham, Alabama, the channel's headquarters and studios are currently located in Orlando, Florida. Golf Channel is available in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Southeast Asia through subscription television providers

As of February 2015, Golf Channel is available to approximately 79,250,000 pay television households (68.1% of households with television) in the United States.

Golf course

A golf course is the grounds where the game of golf is played. It comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, a fairway, the rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick ("pin") and hole ("cup"). A standard round of golf consists of 18 holes. Most courses contain 18 holes; some share fairways or greens, and a subset has nine holes, played twice per round. Par-3 courses consist of nine or 18 holes all of which have a par of three strokes.

Many older courses are links, often coastal. Courses are private, public, and municipally owned, and typically feature a pro shop. Many private courses are found at country clubs.

Jack Nicklaus

Jack William Nicklaus (born January 21, 1940), nicknamed The Golden Bear, is a retired American professional golfer. Many observers regard him as the greatest golfer of all time. During a span of more than 25 years, he won a record 18 major championships while producing 19 second-place and 9 third-place finishes. Nicklaus focused on the major championships—Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship—and played a selective schedule of regular PGA Tour events. He finished with 73 victories, third on the all-time list behind Sam Snead (82) and Tiger Woods (80).

Nicklaus won the U.S. Amateur in 1959 and 1961 and challenged for the 1960 U.S. Open, where he finished in second place, two shots behind Arnold Palmer. Nicklaus turned professional at age 21 toward the end of 1961. He earned his first professional win at the 1962 U.S. Open when he defeated Palmer by three shots in a next day 18-hole playoff. This win over Palmer began the on-course rivalry between the two golf superstars. In 1966, Nicklaus won the Masters Tournament for the second year in a row, becoming the first golfer to achieve this distinction, and also won The Open Championship, completing his career slam of major championships. At age 26, he became the youngest to do so at the time. He won another Open Championship in 1970.Between 1971 and 1980, he won an additional nine major championships, overtook Bobby Jones' record of 13 majors, and became the first player to complete double and triple career slams of golf's four professional major championships. When Nicklaus claimed his 18th and final major championship at age 46 at the 1986 Masters, he became the tournament's oldest winner. Nicklaus joined the Senior PGA Tour (now known as the PGA Tour Champions) when he became eligible in January 1990, and by April 1996 had won 10 tournaments, including eight major championships despite playing a very limited schedule. He continued to play at least some of the four regular Tour majors until 2005, when he made his final appearances at the Masters Tournament and The Open Championship.

Nicklaus has also taken part in various other activities, including golf course design, charity work and book writing. He is a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and has helped design courses such as Harbour Town Golf Links. Nicklaus also runs his own event on the PGA Tour, the Memorial Tournament. His golf course design company is one of the largest in the world. Nicklaus' books vary from instructional to autobiographical, with his Golf My Way considered one of the best instructional golf books of all time; the video of the same name is the best selling golf instructional to date.

Jim Furyk

James Michael Furyk (born May 12, 1970) is an American professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour. In 2010, he was the FedEx Cup champion and PGA Tour Player of the Year. He has won one major championship, the 2003 U.S. Open. Furyk holds the record for the lowest score in PGA Tour history with a 58 which he shot during the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship.

In September 2006 he reached a career high of second in the Official World Golf Ranking. He ranked in the top-10 for over 440 weeks between 1999 and 2016.

Masters Tournament

The Masters Tournament (usually referred to as simply The Masters, or the U.S. Masters outside of North America) is one of the four major championships in professional golf. Scheduled for the first full week of April, the Masters is the first major of the year, and unlike the others, it is always held at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private course in the southeastern United States, in the city of Augusta, Georgia.

The Masters was started by noted amateur champion Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts. After his grand slam in 1930, Jones acquired the former plant nursery and co-designed Augusta National with course architect Alister MacKenzie. First played 85 years ago in 1934, the tournament is an official money event on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour. The field of players is smaller than those of the other major championships because it is an invitational event, held by the Augusta National Golf Club.

The tournament has a number of traditions. Since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the champion, who must return it to the clubhouse one year after his victory, although it remains his personal property and is stored with other champions' jackets in a specially designated cloakroom. In most instances, only a first-time and currently reigning champion may remove his jacket from the club grounds. A golfer who wins the event multiple times uses the same green jacket awarded upon his initial win (unless he needs to be re-fitted with a new jacket). The Champions Dinner, inaugurated by Ben Hogan in 1952, is held on the Tuesday before each tournament, and is open only to past champions and certain board members of the Augusta National Golf Club. Beginning in 1963, legendary golfers, usually past champions, have hit an honorary tee shot on the morning of the first round to commence play. These have included Fred McLeod, Jock Hutchinson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. Since 1960, a semi-social contest at the par-3 course has been played on Wednesday, the day before the first round.

Nicklaus has the most Masters wins, with six between 1963 and 1986. Palmer and Tiger Woods won four each, and five have won three titles at Augusta: Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson. Player, from South Africa, was the first non-American player to win the tournament, in 1961; the second was Seve Ballesteros of Spain, the champion in 1980 and 1983.

The Augusta National course first opened 86 years ago in 1933 and has been modified many times by different architects. Among the changes: greens have been reshaped and, on occasion, entirely re-designed, bunkers have been added, water hazards have been extended, new tee boxes have been built, hundreds of trees have been planted, and several mounds have been installed.

Men's major golf championships

The men's major golf championships, commonly known as the major championships, often referred to simply as the majors, are the four most prestigious annual tournaments in professional golf. In order of play date, they are:

April – Masters Tournament (weekend ending second Sunday in April) – hosted as an invitational by and played at Augusta National Golf Club in the U.S. state of Georgia.

May – PGA Championship (weekend ending third Sunday in May) – hosted by the Professional Golfers' Association of America and played at various locations in the U.S.

June – U.S. Open (weekend ending third Sunday in June, or Father's Day) – hosted by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and played at various locations in the U.S.

July – The Open Championship (week containing the third Friday in July) – hosted by The R&A authority (an offshoot of, and based at the same address as, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews) and always played on a links course at one of the ten locations in the U.K.

Official World Golf Ranking

The Official World Golf Ranking is a system for rating the performance level of male professional golfers. It was started in 1986.

The rankings are based on a player's position in individual tournaments (i.e. not pairs or team events) over a "rolling" two year period. New rankings are produced each week. During 2018, nearly 400 tournaments on 20 tours were covered by the ranking system. All players competing in these tournaments are included in the rankings. In 2019, 23 tours will factor into the world rankings.

As well as being of general interest, the rankings have an additional importance, in that they are used as one of the qualifying criteria for entry into a number of leading tournaments.

PGA Championship

The PGA Championship (often referred to as the U.S. PGA Championship or U.S. PGA outside the United States) is an annual golf tournament conducted by the Professional Golfers' Association of America. It is one of the four major championships in professional golf.

It was formerly played in mid-August on the third weekend before Labor Day weekend, serving as the fourth and final major of the golf season. Beginning 2019, the tournament will be played in May on the weekend before Memorial Day, as the season's second major. It is an official money event on the PGA Tour, European Tour, and Japan Golf Tour, with a purse of $11 million for the 100th edition in 2018.

In line with the other majors, winning the PGA gains privileges that improve career security. PGA champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors (Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, and The Open Championship) and The Players Championship for the next five years, and are eligible for the PGA Championship for life. They receive membership on the PGA Tour for the following five seasons and on the European Tour for the following seven seasons. The PGA is the only one of the four majors to be a tournament almost exclusively for professional players.

The PGA Championship has been held at a large number of venues. Some of the early sites are now quite obscure, but in recent years, the event has generally been played at a small group of celebrated courses.

PGA Tour

The PGA Tour (stylized in all capital letters as PGA TOUR by its officials) is the organizer of the main professional golf tours played primarily by men in the United States and North America. It organizes most of the events on the flagship annual series of tournaments also known as the PGA Tour, as well as PGA Tour Champions (for golfers age 50 and older) and the Web.com Tour (for professional players who have not yet qualified to play in the PGA Tour), as well as PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, and PGA Tour China. The PGA Tour is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville.Originally established by the Professional Golfers' Association of America, it was spun off in December 1968 into a separate organization for tour players, as opposed to club professionals, the focal members of today's PGA of America. Originally the "Tournament Players Division", it adopted the name "PGA Tour" in 1975 and runs most of the week-to-week professional golf events on the tournament known as the PGA Tour, including The Players Championship, hosted at TPC Sawgrass; the FedEx Cup, with its finale at The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club; and the biennial Presidents Cup. The remaining events on the PGA Tour are run by different organizations, as are the U.S.-based LPGA Tour for women and other men's and women's professional tours around the world.

Par (score)

In golf, par is the predetermined number of strokes that a scratch (or 0 handicap) golfer should require to complete a hole, a round (the sum of the pars of the played holes), or a tournament (the sum of the pars of each round). Pars are the central component of stroke play, the most common kind of play in professional golf tournaments. The term is also used in golf-like sports such as disc golf, with the same meaning.

The length of each hole from the tee placement to the pin mostly determines par values for each hole. Almost invariably, holes are assigned par values between three and five strokes, which includes the drive and two putts.

For a casual player from the middle tees, a par-three hole will be 100–250 yards (90–230 m) from the tee to the pin. Par-four holes are 250–470 yards (230–430 m), but tournament players will often encounter par-four holes 500 yards (460 m) or more, as it is common for short par-five holes for normal play to be turned into par-four holes in championship play. Par-five holes are typically 470–600 yards (430–550 m), but in the modern game holes of over 600 yards are becoming more common in championship play. Other relevant factors in setting the par for the hole include the terrain and obstacles (such as trees, water hazards, hills, or buildings) that may require a golfer to take more (or fewer) shots. Some golf courses feature par-sixes and, very rarely, par-sevens, but the latter are not recognised by the United States Golf Association.

Typical championship golf courses have par values of 72, comprising four par-threes, ten par-fours, and four par-fives. Championship course par can be as high as 73 to as low as 69. Most 18-hole courses not designed for championships have a par close to 72, but some will be lower. Courses with par above 73 are rare. Courses built on relatively small parcels of land will often be designed as "Par-3 Courses" in which every hole (or almost every hole) is a par-three (for a total par of 54 or slightly higher over 18 holes).

Phil Mickelson

Philip Alfred Mickelson (born June 16, 1970), nicknamed Lefty, is an American professional golfer. He has won 44 events on the PGA Tour, including five major championships: three Masters titles (2004, 2006, 2010), a PGA Championship (2005), and an Open Championship (2013).Mickelson is one of 16 players in the history of golf to win at least three of the four majors. He has won every major except the U.S. Open, where he has finished runner-up a record six times.Mickelson has spent over 25 years consecutively in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking. He has spent over 700 weeks in the top-10, has reached a career-high world ranking of No. 2 several times and is a life member of the PGA Tour. Known for his left-handed swing, even though otherwise right-handed, he learned by mirroring his right-handed father's swing. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy, (born 4 May 1989) is a professional golfer from Northern Ireland who is a member of both the European and PGA Tours. He was world number one in the Official World Golf Ranking for 95 weeks. He is a four-time major champion, winning the 2011 U.S Open, (setting a tournament record score of −16), 2012 PGA Championship (with a tournament record margin of victory (8 strokes)), 2014 Open Championship, and 2014 PGA Championship. Along with Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth, he is one of four players to win three majors by the age of 25.McIlroy had a successful amateur career, topping the World Amateur Golf Ranking for one week as a 17-year-old in 2007. Later that year, he turned professional and soon established himself on the European Tour. He had his first win on the European Tour in 2009, and on the PGA Tour in 2010. In 2011 at the age of 22, he became the youngest player ever to reach €10 million in career earnings on the European Tour. In 2012, he became the youngest player to reach $10 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy has represented Europe, Great Britain & Ireland, and Ireland as both an amateur and a professional. At the Ryder Cup, he played for Europe against the United States in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018, with Europe winning in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2018. For his individual and team achievements he has twice been named RTÉ Sports Person of the Year, in 2011 and 2014.

The Open Championship

The Open Championship, often referred to as The Open or the British Open, is an annual golf tournament conducted by The R&A. It is one of the four major championships in professional golf, and is the oldest of the four. The Open is traditionally played in mid-July; beginning 2019, with the rescheduling of the PGA Championship to May, the tournament will be the final major of the golf season.

It was first played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. The Open has always been held in the United Kingdom and is the only major played outside the United States.

The current champion is Francesco Molinari, who won the 147th Open at Carnoustie in 2018 with a score of 276. The 2019 Open Championship will be held at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. It was held at Portrush in 1951, the only occasion that it has not been held in Scotland or England.

The Players Championship

The Players Championship (commonly known as simply The Players, stylized by the PGA Tour as The PLAYERS Championship) is an annual golf tournament on the PGA Tour. Originally known as the Tournament Players Championship, it began in 1974. The Players Championship currently offers the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf ($12.5 million in 2019), overtaking the U.S. Open which offers a $12 million purse. The field usually includes the top 50 players in the world rankings, but unlike the three major championships or two World Golf Championships events staged in the United States, it is not an official event on the European Tour.

The Players has often been considered the unofficial "fifth major" due to its prestige, its host course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course at which the tournament has been played since 1982, home of the iconic par-3 No. 17 "Island Green"), and its large purse.

Tiger Woods

Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer who is generally considered one of the greatest golfers of all time.Following an outstanding junior, college, and amateur golfing career, Woods turned professional in 1996 at the age of 20. By the end of April 1997, he had won three PGA Tour events in addition to his first major, the 1997 Masters. Woods won the 1997 Masters by 12 strokes in a record-breaking performance. He first reached the number one position in the world rankings in June 1997, less than a year after turning pro. Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, Woods was the dominant force in golf; he was the top-ranked golfer in the world from August 1999 to September 2004 (264 weeks) and again from June 2005 to October 2010 (281 weeks).

Woods took a self-imposed hiatus from professional golf from December 2009 to early April 2010 in a vain attempt to resolve marital issues with his estranged wife Elin. The couple eventually divorced. His many alleged extramarital indiscretions were revealed by several women through worldwide media sources. Woods's personal problems coincided with a series of injuries, treatments by the controversial doctor Anthony Galea (who has been linked to performance-enhancing drugs), and a loss of golf form. His placement in the Official World Golf Rankings fell to No. 58 in November 2011.Woods ended a career-high winless streak of 107 weeks when he triumphed in the Chevron World Challenge in December 2011. After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 25, 2013, he ascended to the No. 1 ranking once again, holding the top spot until May 2014; by that time, he had been ranked number one for a record lifetime total of 683 weeks. From 2014 to 2017, Woods was unable to recapture his dominant form, undergoing four back surgeries in 2014, 2015 and 2017. After falling to no. 1199 in the World Golf Ranking in December 2017, Woods's ranking improved more than 1,000 places by mid-2018. In September 2018, he won his first tournament in five years with a victory at the Tour Championship and moved to #13 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Woods has broken numerous golf records. He has been World Number One for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks of any golfer. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record eleven times and has won the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times. Woods has the record of leading the money list in ten different seasons. He has won 14 professional major golf championships (trailing only Jack Nicklaus who leads with 18, on the all-time list) and 80 PGA Tour events (second all-time behind Sam Snead, who won 82). Woods leads all active golfers in career major wins and career PGA Tour wins. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam, and is only the second golfer (after Nicklaus) to have achieved a career Grand Slam three times. Woods has won 18 World Golf Championships.

U.S. Open (golf)

The United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is the annual open national championship of golf in the United States. It is the third of the four major championships in golf, and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Since 1898 the competition has been 72 holes of stroke play (4 rounds on an 18-hole course), with the winner being the player with the lowest total number of strokes. It is staged by the United States Golf Association (USGA) in mid-June, scheduled so that, if there are no weather delays, the final round is played on the third Sunday, which is Father's Day. The U.S. Open is staged at a variety of courses, set up in such a way that scoring is very difficult, with a premium placed on accurate driving. As of 2019 the U.S. Open awards a $12 million purse, the largest of all 4 major championships and second largest of all PGA Tour events (The Players Championship leads with $12.5 million).

Volkswagen

Volkswagen (German: [ˈfɔlksˌvaːɡn̩] (listen)); English: ); shortened to VW (German: [ˈfaʊ̯ˈveː]), is a German automaker founded on 28 May 1937 by the German Labour Front, and headquartered in Wolfsburg. It is the flagship marque of the Volkswagen Group, the largest automaker by worldwide sales in 2016 and 2017. The group's main market is in China, which delivers 40% of its sales and profits.Volkswagen translates to "people's car" in German. The company's current international advertising slogan is just "Volkswagen", referencing the name's meaning.

Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf (listen ) is a compact car produced by the German automotive manufacturer Volkswagen since 1974, marketed worldwide across seven generations, in various body configurations and under various nameplates – such as the Volkswagen Rabbit in the United States and Canada (Mk1 and Mk5), and as the Volkswagen Caribe in Mexico (Mk1).

The original Golf Mk1 was a front-wheel drive, front-engined replacement for the air-cooled, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Volkswagen Beetle. Historically, the Golf is Volkswagen's best-selling model and is among the world's top three best-selling models, with more than 30 million built by June 2013.Initially, most Golf production was in the 3-door hatchback style. Other variants include a 5-door hatchback, station wagon (Variant, from 1993), convertible (Cabriolet and Cabrio, 1979–2002, Cabriolet, 2011–present), and a Golf-derived notchback sedan, variously called Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Vento (from 1992) or Volkswagen Bora (from 1999). The cars have filled many market segments, from being a basic, everyday car, to high-performance hot hatches.

The Volkswagen Golf has won many awards throughout its history. The Golf won the World Car of the Year in 2009, with the Volkswagen Golf Mk6 and in 2013 with the Volkswagen Golf Mk7. The VW Golf is one of only three cars, the others being the Renault Clio and Opel/Vauxhall Astra, to have been voted European Car of the Year twice, in 1992 and 2013. The Volkswagen Golf has made the annual Car and Driver 10Best list multiple times. The Golf Mk7 won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in 2015, and the Mk1 GTI also won the award in 1985.

Golf
Overview
Technical
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Most wins
Majors
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International events
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