Golf has one of the most storied and rich traditions of any modern sport with its rules dating back over half a millennium. While not one of the most commercially popular sports, its fan base is loyal and knowledgeable. With golf being played worldwide and courses spanning Europe and America, knowing how it was created and its origins is an important part of understanding the sport itself
Dating back to the 15th century, golf was initially introduced in Scotland. It was banned in 1497 by James II due to the attention it drew away from archery practice. Widely seen as the most famous course, the St. Andrews golf course in Scotland dates its history all the way back to the 16th century. The Open Championship is the world’s oldest known tournament, first played in 1860 at the Prestwick golf course. Many of the first modern rules of golf were introduced in 1744 for the Company of Gentleman Golfers, also known as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
With the courses being either nine or 18 holes, pairings of players (depending on the tournament) will all tee off on the designated first hole in a delayed pattern. Players are allowed to carry 14 clubs at a time, limiting their choices to cater to specific holes and courses. The clubs are broken up into three categories: woods, irons, and putters. Among the woods are drivers, which are commonly used upon teeing off, and numbered woods of varying type. This also applies to irons numbered from 1 to 9 with varying club head shapes. The numbers of the clubs indicate the slope of the face of the club with the higher numbers having a steeper degree of slope.
After teeing off, the goal of reaching the “green” and putting the ball in the hole with the least amount of strokes is the overall strategy of the game. While avoiding hazards such as water, sand, and out of bounds areas, the goal is to have the fewest accumulated shots or “strokes” at the end of the designated nine or 18 holes.
Penalty strokes can be applied for various reasons including losing a ball, improper play, and unplayable balls. Each hole has a “par” or average stroke number for the course with the potential to score under the designated stroke number. This is why you often see golf scores with negative numbers signifying the number of strokes below the designated par.
In professional tournaments, three to four days of golf will be played, each with 18 holes of golf. The field is then narrowed down and eventually the player with the fewest strokes at the end of the tournament wins.
There are numerous courses spanning the world that have gained notoriety through history or difficulty. Pebble Beach in California, St. Andrews in Scotland, and Augusta Golf Club in Georgia are just a few courses with rich history, all of which would be memorable golf weekends for any avid player.