The World of Golf

 

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Golfing Index - Golf Basics - Golf Equipment - Player's handicap - Golf Caddy - Golf Glossary

Golf Basics

Golf (gowf in Scots) is a game where individual players or teams hit a ball into a hole using various clubs, and is one of the few ball games that does not use a fixed standard playing area. It is defined in the Rules of Golf as "playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules."

Golf originated in Scotland and has been played for at least five centuries in the British Isles. The oldest course in the world is The Old Links at Musselburgh. Golf, in essentially the form we know it today, has been played on Scotland's Musselburgh Links since 1672, and earlier versions of the game have been played in the British Isles and the low-countries of Northern Europe for several centuries before that. Although often viewed as an elite pastime, golf is an increasingly popular sport that can be played for one's entire life.

Anatomy of a golf course

Golf is played on a tract of land designated as the course. The course consists of a series of holes. A hole means both the hole in the ground into which the ball is played (also called the cup), as well as the total distance from the tee (a pre-determined area from where a ball is first hit) to the green (the area surrounding the actual hole in the ground). Most golf courses consist of 9 or 18 holes. (The "nineteenth hole" is the colloquial term for the bar/grill at a club house).

The first stroke on each hole is done from the tee (officially, teeing ground), where the grass is well tended to facilitate the tee shot. After teeing off, a player strokes the ball again from the position at which it came to rest, either from the fairway (where the grass is cut so low that most balls can be easily played) or from the rough (grass cut much longer than fairway grass, or which may be uncut) until the ball comes to rest in the cup. Many holes include hazards, which may be of two types: water hazards (lakes, rivers, etc.) and bunkers. Special rules apply to playing balls that come to rest in a hazard, which make it undesirable to play a ball into one. For example, in a hazard, a player must not touch the ground with his club prior to playing a ball, not even for a practice swing. A ball in any type of hazard may be played as it lies without penalty. If it cannot be played from the hazard for any reason, it may be removed by hand and dropped outside the hazard within two club lengths and a penalty of two strokes. If a ball in a hazard cannot be found, it may be replaced by dropping another ball outside the hazard, with one stroke penalty. Exactly where a ball may be dropped outside a hazard is governed by strict rules. Bunkers (or sand traps) are hazards from which the ball is more difficult to play than from grass. As in a water hazard, a ball in a sand trap must be played without previously touching the sand with one's club.

The grass of the putting green (or more commonly the green) is cut very short so that a ball can roll easily over distances of several yards. To putt means to play a stroke, usually but not always on the green, wherein the ball does not leave the ground. The direction of growth of individual blades of grass often affects the roll of a golf ball and is called the grain. The cup is always found within the green, and must have a diameter of 108 mm (4.25 in.) and a depth of at least 100 mm (3.94 in.). Its position on the green is not static and may be changed from day to day. The cup usually has a flag on a pole positioned in it so that it may be seen from some distance, but not necessarily from the tee. This flag and pole combination is often called the pin.

Putting greens are not of all the same quality. Generally, the finest quality greens are well kept so that a ball will roll smoothly over the closely mowed grass. Golfers describe a green as being "fast" if a light stroke of the ball allows it to roll a long distance. Conversely, a green is termed "slow" if a stronger stroke is required to roll the ball the required distance.

The borders of a course are marked as such, and beyond them is out of bounds, that is, ground from which a ball must not be played. Some areas on the course may be designated as ground under repair, meaning that a ball coming to rest in them may be lifted and then played from outside such ground without penalty. Certain man-made objects on the course are defined as obstructions, and specific rules determine how a golfer may proceed when the play is impeded by these.

At most golf courses there are additional facilities that are not part of the course itself. Often there is a practice range, usually with practice greens, bunkers and driving areas (where long shots can be practiced). There may even be a practice course (which is often easier to play or shorter than other golf courses). A golf school is often associated with a course or club.

Par

A hole is classified by its par. Par is the number of strokes that a skilled golfer should require to complete the hole. A skilled golfer expects to reach the green in two strokes under par (in regulation) and then use two putts to get the ball into the hole. For example, a skilled golfer expects to reach the green on a par four hole in two strokes, one from the tee (his "drive"), another to the green (his "approach"), and then roll the ball into the hole with two putts. Traditionally, a golf hole is either a par three, four, or five.

The par of a hole is primarily, but not exclusively, determined by the distance from tee to green. A typical length for a par three hole is anywhere between 91 to 224 m (100 to 250 yds.), for a par four, between 225 to 434 m (251 to 475 yds.). Par five holes are typically at least 435 m (476 yds.), but can be as long 548 m (600 yds.). Many 18-hole courses have approximately four par-three, ten par-four, and four par-five holes. The total par of a regulation course is 72. In many countries, courses are classified by a course rating in addition to the course's par. This rating describes the difficulty of a course and may be used to calculate a golfer's playing handicap for that individual course (see golf handicap).

Play of the game

Every game 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. On a nine-hole course, a standard round consists of two successive nine-hole rounds. A hole of golf consists of hitting a ball from a tee on the teeing ground (a marked area designated for the first shot of a hole), and, once the ball comes to rest, striking it again, and repeating this process until the ball at last comes to rest in the cup. Once the ball is on the green (an area of finely cut grass) the ball is usually putted (hit along the ground) into the hole. The aim of holing the ball in as few strokes as possible may be impeded by various hazards, such as bunkers and water hazards.

Players walk (or in some countries, often drive in motorized electric carts) over the course, either singly or in groups of two, three, or four, sometimes accompanied by caddies who carry and manage the players' equipment and give them advice. Each player plays a ball from the tee to the hole, except that in the mode of play called foursomes, two teams of two players compete, and the members of each team alternate shots using only one ball, until the ball is holed out. When all individual players or teams have brought a ball into play, the player or team whose ball is the farthest from the hole is next to play. In some team events, a player whose ball is farther from the hole may ask his partner to play first. When all players of a group have completed the hole, the player or team with the best score on that hole has the honor, that is, the right to play first on the next tee.

Each player acts as marker for one other player in the group, that is, he or she records the score on a score card. In stroke play (see below), the score consists of the number of strokes played plus any penalty strokes incurred. Penalty strokes are not actually strokes but penalty points that are added to the score for violations of rules or for making use of relief procedures in certain situations.

Scoring

In every form of play, the goal is to play as few shots per round as possible. Scores for each hole can be described as follows:

Term on a
scoreboard
Specific term Definition
-3 double-eagle (albatross) three strokes under par
-2 eagle two strokes under par
-1 birdie one stroke under par
0 par or even strokes equal to par
+1 bogey one stroke more than par
+2 double bogey two strokes over par
+3 triple bogey three strokes over par

The two basic forms of playing golf are match play and stroke play.

  • In match play, two players (or two teams) play every hole as a separate contest against each other. The party with the lower score wins that hole, or if the scores of both players or teams are equal the hole is "halved" (drawn). 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. At any given point, if the lead is equal to the number of holes remaining, the match is said to be "dormie", and is continued until the leader increases the lead by one hole, thereby winning the match, or until the match ends in a tie. 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, and thereupon immediately wins by one hole.
  • In stroke play, every player (or team) counts the number of shots taken for the whole round or tournament to produce the total score, and the player with the lowest score wins. A variant of stroke play is Stableford scoring, where a number of points (two for the target score) are given for each hole, and the fewer shots taken, the more points obtained, so the aim is to have as many points as possible. Another variant of stroke play, the Modified Stableford method, awards points on each hole in relation to par and then adds the points over a round; for more details on this method, see the article on The International, a tournament that uses Modified Stableford scoring.

There are many variations of these basic principles, some of which are explicitly described in the "Rules of Golf" and are therefore regarded "official". "Official" forms of play are, among others, foursome and four-ball games.

Team play

A foursome (defined in Rule 29) 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.

A four-ball (Rules 30 and 31) is also played between two teams of two players each, but every player plays his own ball and for each team, the lower score on each hole is counted. Four-balls can be played as match play or stroke play.

There are also popular unofficial variations on team play. In a scramble, or ambrose (also known as a best ball tournament), each player in a team tees off on each hole, and the players decide which shot was best. Every player then plays his second shot from where the best ball has come to rest, and the procedure is repeated until the hole is finished.

In a greensome 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.

Fees

If one wishes to play on a golf course, one has to pay a certain fee. There are two different fees: the range fee, which is for the practice range; and the green fee, which allows play on the golf course itself. The green fee may vary from the equivalent of a few U.S. dollars for communal courses in many countries, up to that of several hundred dollars for elite private clubs. Discounts on fees may be offered for players starting their round late in the day. If the course has golf carts, there may also be a fee to use them, even if a member of your group is not actively playing. This fee is usually combined with the green fee.

Handicap systems

A handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur golfer's ability. It can be used to calculate a so-called "net" score from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on equal terms. Handicaps are administrated by golf clubs or national golf associations.

Handicap systems are not used in professional golf. Professional golfers typically score several strokes below par for a round.

Golf rules and other regulations

The rules of golf [1] [2] are internationally standardised and are jointly governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A), which was founded 1754 and the United States Golf Association (USGA). By agreement with the R&A, USGA jurisdiction on the enforcement and interpretation of the rules is limited to the United States and Mexico. Canada has the separate Royal Canadian Golf Association, but generally follows the lead of the two larger bodies in determining rules. Because the rules of golf continue to evolve, amended versions of the rule book are usually published and made effective in a four-year cycle.

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 can't do either, do what is fair". Some rules state that:

  • every player is entitled and obliged to play the ball from the position where it has come to rest after a stroke, unless a rule allows or demands otherwise (Rule 13-1)
  • a player must not accept assistance in making a stroke (Rule 14-2)
  • the condition of the ground or other parts of the course may not be altered to gain an advantage, except in some cases defined in the rules
  • a ball may only be replaced by another during play of a hole if it is destroyed (Rule 5-3), lost (Rule 27-1), or unplayable (Rule 28), or at some other time permitted by the Rules. The player may always substitute balls between the play of two holes.

The Decisions on the Rules of Golf are based on formal case decisions by the R&A and USGA and are revised and updated every other year.

The etiquette of golf, although not formally equivalent to the rules, are included in the publications on golf rules and are considered binding for every player. They cover matters such as safety, fairness, easiness and pace of play, and players' obligation to contribute to the care of the course.

There are strict regulations regarding the amateur status of golfers [3]. Essentially, everybody 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. Non-cash prizes won in a competition may be accepted within the limits established by the Rules of Amateur Status.

Golf course architecture and design

While no two courses are alike, many can be classified into one of the following broad categories:

  • Links courses: the most traditional type of golf course, of which some century-old examples have survived in the British isles. Located in coastal areas, on sandy soil, often amid dunes, with few artificial water hazards and few if any trees. Traditional links courses, such as The Old Course at St. Andrews, are built on "land reclaimed from the sea," land that was once underwater.
  • Parkland courses: typical inland courses, often resembling traditional British parks, with lawn-like fairways and many trees.
  • Heathland – a more open, less-manicured inland course often featuring gorse and heather and typically less wooded than “parkland” courses. Examples include Woodhall Spa in England and Gleneagles in Scotland.
  • Desert courses: a rather recent invention, popular in Australia, parts of the USA and in the Middle East. Desert courses require heavy irrigation for maintenance of the turf, leading to concerns about the ecological consequences of excessive water consumption. A desert course also violates the widely accepted principle of golf course architecture that an aesthetically pleasing course should require minimal alteration of the existing landscape. Nevertheless, many players enjoy the unique experience of playing golf in the desert.
  • Sand courses: instead of a heavily irrigated 'green', the players play on sand.
  • Snow courses: another rather recent invention; golf being played on snow, typically with an orange coloured or another brightly coloured ball. Can be played in Arctic or subarctic regions during winter.

In the United States design varies widely, with courses such as the entirely artificial Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, where a course complete with waterfalls was created in the desert, and on the other end of the spectrum, Rustic Canyon outside of Los Angeles, which was created with a minimal amount of earth moving resulting in an affordable daily green fee and a more natural golfing experience.

Hitting a golf ball

To hit the ball, the club is swung at the motionless ball on the ground (or wherever it has come to rest) from a side stance. Many golf shots make the ball travel through the air (carry) and roll out for some more distance (roll).

Every shot is a compromise between length and precision, as long shots are generally less precise than short ones. Obviously, a longer shot may result in a better score if it helps reduce the total number of strokes for a given hole, but the benefit may be more than outweighed by additional strokes or penalties if a ball is lost, out of bounds, or comes to rest on difficult ground. Therefore, a skilled golfer must assess the quality of his or her shots in a particular situation in order to judge whether the possible benefits of aggressive play are worth the risks.

Types of shots

  • A tee shot is the first shot played from a teeing ground. It is often made with a driver (i.e., a 1-wood) off a tee for long holes, or with an iron on shorter holes. Ideally, tee shots on long holes have a rather shallow flight and long roll of the ball, while tee shots on short holes are flighted higher and are expected to stop quickly.
  • A fairway shot is similar to a drive when done with a fairway wood. However, a tee may not be used once the ball has been brought into play; therefore, playing from the fairway may be more difficult depending on how the ball lies. If precision is more important than length (typically, when playing on narrow fairways or approaching a green), irons are usually played from the fairway. Irons or wedges are also often used when playing from the rough.
  • A bunker shot is played when the ball is in a bunker (sand trap). It resembles a pitch and is played with a "sand wedge." The sand wedge is designed with a wider base allowing the club to skid in the sand. The bunker shot differs from other golf shots in that the ball is not touched by the clubhead, but is lifted together with an amount of sand.
  • Punch/Knockdown: a low shot that carries through the air in order to clear a low hanging tree branch or sometimes high winds.
  • On the green, a putter is used to 'putt' the ball. The ball rolls on the ground, never becoming air-borne.

An approach shot is played into the green from outside the green, usually over an intermediate or short distance. Types of approach shots are:

  • Pitch: an approach shot that flies the ball onto or near the green. Depending upon conditions (wind, firmness of fairway and green and/or contour of the green) a skilled player may hit a high, soft landing shot with little roll or a low running shot attempting to keep the ball in the air as much as possible. Depending upon the way the ball is struck, this shot may roll out, stop or even spin backwards towards the player. Pitch shots are usually hit with any club from a six iron to a lob wedge.
  • Flop: an even higher approach shot that stops shortly after it hits the ground. It is used when a player must play over an obstacle to the green. It is usually played with a sand wedge or a lob wedge.
  • Chip: a low approach shot where the ball makes a shallow flight and then rolls out on the green. Chips are made with a less lofted club than the "pitch" shot or "lob" shot in order to produce the desired flatter trajectory.

Poor shots

There are several possible causes of poor shots, such as poor alignment of the club, wrong direction of swing, and off-center hits where the clubhead rotates around the ball at impact. Many of these troubles are aggravated with the "longer" clubs and higher speed of swing. Furthermore, the absolute effect of a deviation will increase with a longer shot compared with a short one.

Some of the more common Poor shots are explained below:

Hook : The ball flight curves sharply to the left for a right-handed player (the reverse is true for left-handed players). A severe hook is commonly called a Duck-Hook.

Slice : The ball curves sharply to the right for a right-handed player (the reverse is true for left-handed players). For beginning golfers this is the typical outcome of most shots. A severe slice is commonly referred to as a Banana-Slice or a Banana-Ball. The ball usually ends up at least one fairway over from the hole being played or in any number of other undesireable locales.

Pull : For a right-handed player the ball is 'pulled' across the body and flies to the left of the intended target without curvature. A Pull-Hook indicates that the ball started out left of target and curved even further to the left. A Pull-Slice means the ball starts out left then curves back to the right.

Push : The opposite of a Pull, where the ball is 'pushed' away from the body. The ball flies to the right of the intended target.

Shank : The ball is struck by the hosel or the outer edge of the club rather than the clubface and shoots sharply to the right (for a right handed player). As a point of safety, it is mandatory to shout "Fore!" whenever there is a chance that a ball might hit any person anywhere on the course.

Thin or Blade : The ball is struck with the bottom edge of the club and not its face. This may incur a cut in the ball itself and will cause one's hands to hurt if playing on a cold day.

Fat : A fat shot occurs when the club strikes the ground before the ball. A large divot is usually produced along with a dirty clubface.

Top : The topside of the ball is struck with the underside of the club. The result usually consists of the ball rolling a minimal distance forward.

Sky Ball : The opposite of a Top. This occurs almost exclusively when teeing the ball up too high. The top side of the club strikes the bottom side of the ball and forces the ball higher into the air than desired. A true sky ball occurs when the ball travels further vertically than it does horizontally.

Flyer : This type of shot usually occurs when playing from deep rough. The ball may literally be sitting off the ground and up in the grass. The resulting flight of the ball is that the target is overshot by 10 or more yards. The reason for this condition is unknown but the results are usually not desirable.

Hood : Somewhere during the swing the clubface becomes more perpendicular to the ground, or angled more toward the golfer. The clubface may strike the ground first or get caught up in heavy rough. This results in the ball flying lower to the ground than intended and usually resulting in a Pull as well.

Worm burner : The ball is hit extremely low to the ground, or bounces rapidly across the ground, essentially "burning up worms" as it speeds along.

Chilly Dip : A common miscue while chipping where the ball is flubbed only a few feet forward. Sometimes referred to as a Chug.

Fried Egg: This situation occurs when the ball lands in a sand bunker and does not move from its landing spot. A small crater, or frying pan, encircles the ball, egg, and makes the next shot a difficult one.

Foot Wedge : An illegal act of literally kicking one's ball to a better location. View Caddyshack's Judge Smails for an example. Only use this shot when playing a friendly round of golf.

The golf swing

Putts and short chips are ideally played without much movement of the body, but most other golf shots are played using variants of the full golf swing. The full golf swing itself is used in tee and fairway shots.

A full swing is a complex rotation of the body aimed at accelerating the club head to a great speed. For a right-handed golfer, it consists of a backswing to the right, a downswing to the left (in which the ball is hit), and a follow through. At address, the player stands with the left shoulder and hip pointing in the intended direction of ball flight, with the ball before the feet. The club is held with both hands (right below left), the club head resting on the ground behind the ball, hips and knees somewhat flexed, and the arms hanging from the shoulders. The backswing is a rotation to the right, consisting of a shifting of the player's body weight to the right side, a turning of the pelvis and shoulders, lifting of the arms and flexing of the elbows and wrists. At the end of the backswing the hands are above the right shoulder, with the club pointing more or less in the intended direction of ball flight. The downswing is roughly a backswing reversed. After the ball is hit, the follow-through stage consists of a continued rotation to the left. At the end of the swing, the weight has shifted almost entirely to the left foot, the body is fully turned to the left and the hands are above the left shoulder with the club hanging down over the players' back.

The full golf swing is an unnatural, highly complex motion and notoriously difficult to learn. It is not uncommon for beginners to spend several months practising the very basics before playing their first ball on a course. It is usually considered impossible to acquire a stable and successful swing without professional instruction and even highly skilled golfers may continue to take golf lessons for many years. One can also purchase or use a new golf simulator that can cost upwards of $50,000.

Relatively few golfers play left-handed (i.e., swing back to the left and forward to the right), with even players who are strongly left-handed in their daily life preferring the right-handed golf swing. In the past, this may have been due to the difficulty of finding left-handed golf clubs. Today, more manufacturers provide left-handed versions of their club lines, and the clubs are more readily purchased from mail-order and Internet catalogues. A golfer who plays right-handed, but holds the club left-hand-below-right is said to be "cack-handed". It is difficult to obtain the same consistency and power with this arrangement as is possible with conventional technique.

Besides the physical part, the mental aspect contributes to the difficulty of the golf swing. Golfers play against the course, not each other directly, and hit a stationary object, not one put into motion by an opponent. This means that there is never anyone to blame but oneself for a bad result, and in most competitive formats there are no teammates to directly help one out. Knowledge of this creates a great deal of psychological pressure on the golfer; this pressure exists at all levels of play. Even the best professional golfers sometimes succumb to this pressure, such as getting the "yips" and being unable to make short putts, or having collapses of their full swing.

Physics of a golf shot

A golf ball acquires spin when it is hit. Backspin is imparted in almost every shot due to the golf club's loft (i.e., angle between the clubface and a vertical plane). A spinning ball deforms the flow of air around it [4] and thereby acts in a similar way to an aeroplane wing; a back-spinning ball therefore experiences an upward force which makes it fly higher and longer than a ball without spin would. The amount of backspin also influences the behaviour of a ball when it hits the ground. A ball with little backspin will usually roll out for a considerable distance while a ball with much backspin may not roll at all or in some cases even roll backwards. Sidespin occurs when the clubface is not aligned perpendicularly to the plane of swing. Sidespin makes the ball curve to the left or right: when controlled by stance and swing, a curve to the left is a draw, and to the right a fade; this effect can be made use of to steer it around obstacles or towards the safe side of a difficult fairway. However, it is difficult to control the amount of sidespin, and many poor shots result from uncontrolled or excessive spin that makes the ball curve sharply. Uncontrolled sidespin shots are a hook to the left, or slice to the right, for a right-handed player.

Social aspects of golf

In the United States, golf is the unofficial game of the business world. It is often said that board meetings merely confirm decisions that are actually made on the golf course. For this reason, the successful conduct of business golf (which extends beyond merely knowing the game) is considered a useful business skill; various schools, including prestigious universities such as Stanford University, have started both undergraduate and graduate-level courses that teach "business golf." The PGA of America, an organization separate from the PGA Tour, helps to sponsor these programs at universities nationwide.

Golf is not inherently an expensive activity; the cost of an average round of golf is USD $36 [7], and the game is regularly enjoyed by over 26 million Americans and many more world-wide. In fact, most regions of the United States feature public courses which strive to be affordable for the average golfer. But the perception of golf as a game for the wealthy elite and country clubs a haven for businessmen is common among many. Films such as Caddyshack perpetuate this belief.

This being said the social status of better (and usually more expensive) equipment cannot be overlooked. In order to be outfitted with the latest equipment (including rather expensive clothing, shoes and gloves) one can end up spending quite a sum. Also, green fees at some of the more picturesque and prestigious courses can be quite sizeable.

Golfing countries

In 2005 Golf Digest calculated that there were nearly 32,000 golf courses in the world, approximately half of them in the United States. [8] The countries with most golf courses in relation to population, starting with the best endowed were: Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, Wales, United States, Sweden, and England (countries with less than 500,000 people were excluded). Apart from Sweden all of these countries have English as the official language, but the number of courses in new golfing territories is increasing rapidly. For example the first golf course in the People's Republic of China only opened in the mid-1980s, but by 2005 there were 200 courses in that country.

The professional game was initially dominated by British golfers, but since World War I, America has produced the greatest quantity of leading professionals. Other Commonwealth countries such as Australia and South Africa are also traditional powers in the game. Since around the 1970s, Japan, Scandinavian and other Western European countries have produced leading players on a regular basis. The number of countries with high-class professionals continues to increase steadily, especially in East Asia. South Korea is notably strong in women's golf. More information is available at [9].

Environmental impact

Environmental concerns over the use of land for golf courses have grown over the past 50 years. Specific concerns include the amount of water and chemical pesticides and fertilizers used for maintenance, as well as the destruction of wetlands and other environmentally important areas during construction.

These, along with health and cost concerns, have led to significant research into more environmentally sound practices and turf grasses. The modern golf course superintendent is well trained in the uses of these practices and grasses. This has led to reductions in the amount of chemicals and water used on courses. The turf on golf courses is an excellent filter for water and has been used in many communities to cleanse grey water. While many people continue to oppose golf courses for environmental reasons, there are others who feel that they are beneficial for the community and the environment as they provide corridors for migrating animals and sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife.

A major result of modern equipment is that today's players can hit the ball much further than previously. In a concern for safety, modern golf course architects have had to lengthen and widen their design envelope. This has led to a ten percent increase in the amount of area that is required for golf courses today. At the same time, water restrictions placed by many communities have forced many courses to limit the amount of maintained turf grass. While most modern 18-hole golf courses occupy as much as 60 ha (150 acres) of land, the average course has 30 ha (75 acres) of maintained turf. (Sources include the National Golf Foundation and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America [GCSAA].)

Golf courses are built on many different types of land, including sandy areas along coasts, abandoned farms, strip mines and quarries, deserts and forests. Many Western countries have instituted significant environmental restrictions on where and how courses can be built [citation needed].

In some parts of the world, attempts to build courses and resorts have led to significant protests along with vandalism and violence by both sides. Although golf is a relatively minor issue compared to other land-ethics questions, it has symbolic importance as it is a game normally associated with the wealthier Westernized population, and the culture of colonization and globalization of non-native land ethics. Resisting golf tourism and golf's expansion has become an objective of some land-reform movements, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia.

In Saudi Arabia, golf courses have been constructed on nothing more than oil-covered sand. However, in some cities such as Dhahran, modern, grass golf courses have been built recently.

In Coober Pedy, Australia, there is a famous golf course that consists of nine holes dug into mounds of sand, diesel and oil and not a blade of grass or a tree to be seen. You carry a small piece of Astroturf from which you tee.

In New Zealand it is not uncommon for rural courses to have greens fenced off and sheep graze the fairways. Many golf courses have been displaced by urban planning practices. Many things that displace golf courses range from neighbourhoods to shopping malls.

The word 'Golf'

The word Golf is first mentioned in 1457 in a Scottish statute on forbidden games as Gouf, which may be related to Dutch kolf, "bat, club". A folk etymology also suggests golf refers to "Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden".

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