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Golf 101 – Everything You Need To Know About Golf For Beginner

History of Golf

Source: en.wikipedia.org

The modern game of golf can be traced back to the 15th century in Scotland. In the beginning, golf was played by using a bent stick to hit a circular stone around a field. Within a short time after it’s first creation, golf became popular across Scotland.

In fact, the first mention of the game is when it was banned in Scottish by an Act of Parliament in 1457. This Act was put in place because King James II believed it was taking time away from archery practice which was a necessity for the soldiers to guard themselves and the others from attack.

Golf was becoming such a popular activity that it had become a distraction for many of Scotland’s soldiers. This ban lasted until the year 1500 when it was lifted from all of Scotland. Within a few years after the ban, even King James IV  himself had purchased golf clubs.

The game of golf began developing grealty at this point before eventually spreading through Europe and into England and France. It wasn’t until  1744 that The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers established the first official rules of golf. This would become the basic guide of playing the game moving forward.

Although the game had been played for centuries before, St. Andrews Soctland is considered the home of golf. Home to The Old Course, the oldest golf course in the world, St. Andrews is rich in golf tradition. The Old Course was originally 22 holes but was reduced to 18 holes in the 1760s. This would become the official number of holes and the format for golf courses down the line.

Heading into the 19th century, the game of golf was becoming more popular and spreading across the world. Golf was originally played by royals and high class people but as the game became more modern, it became more accessible to everyone.

One example of this modernization was the golf ball.  What started out at round pebbles turned to feather stuffed balls and finally changed to being made by a latex material from gutta-percha trees.

The material from the gutta-percha trees made the balls cheaper to make and more accessible to average people. The fact that the game was beginning to become more accessible to the average person was an important factor in the spread of its popularity.

By the mid 19th century, American imports brought persimmon and hickory shafts into the sport which made golf clubs less costly. During this time, the sport had become international and was now being played by a wide variety of people.

During the year 1860, the first Open Championship took place at Prestwick. This would become one of the most sought after tournaments in all of golf and one that is still played to this date.

Throughout the next few decades, organizations like the United States Golf Association and the Professional Golfers Association will be formed. By this time, the game had become so popular that there were already over one thousand golf courses in the United States alone.

In current times, there are over 34,000 golf courses in the world and the game is played everywhere.

Golf Terms

Driving Range: A designated practice area that will usually resemble a tee box. Allows players to practice hitting shots before actually stepping onto the golf course.

Tee Box: Designated area for the first shot of every hole

Fairway: Short grass and aiming point for the tee shot on par fours and fives.

Green: Shortest grass on the golf course which contains the hole and flag. This is the target on each hole.

Rough: Tall grass that surrounds a golf hole and penalizes a player for missing the fairway or green.

Fringe: A ring of grass around the green which is slightly taller than the green itself.

First Cut: The first few feet outside the fairway which is slightly taller than the fairway but shorter than the rough.

Sand Trap/Bunker: A sand filled pit meant to penalize a golfer who misses the fairway or green.

Stroke: Each time you strike the golf ball is known as a stroke.

Par: The predetermined score for a golf hole or course. For example, a par five is intended to be completed with five strokes.

Hole In One: Completing a hole in one stroke.

Albatross: Completing a hole in three less strokes than intended. (A two on a par five)

Eagle: Completing a hole with two less strokes than intended.

Birdie: Completing a hole with one less stroke than intended.

Par: Completing a hole with the intended amount of strokes.

Bogey: Completing a hole with one more stroke than intended for the hole. (a six on a par five)

Double Bogey: Completing a hole with two more strokes than intended for the hole.

Triple Bogey: Completing a hole with three more strokes than intended for the hole.

Backswing: The first half of the golf swing in which the gold club is moving away from the ball.

Downswing: The second half of the golf swing where the club is moving back toward the ball.

Caddie: A person that is tasked with carrying a players clubs and giving a player advice about the course.

Gimmie: When one player tells another that they can count a putt that has yet to be holed. Usually done to save time on a putt that someone has a high probability of making.

Out of Bounds: Areas beyond the boundaries of a golf course. In this circumstance, a player must drop a new ball in the spot of their previous shot with a penalty stroke added.

Penalty Stroke: If a player loses their ball or breaks a rule, they will be assessed an additional stroke to their score at the end of the hole.

Divot: A strip of grass that is taken from the ground as a result of a golf shot.

Chunk: The unwanted result of hitting too much turf during a golf swing.

Slice: When a ball curves severely from left to right during a golf shot. Typically unintended. (for a right handed player)

Hook: When a ball curves severely from right to left during a golf shot. Typically unintended. (for a right handed player)

Fade: A golf ball flight path that goes slightly left to right. (for a right handed player)

Draw: A golf ball flight path that goes slightly right to left. (for a right handed player)

Shank: A bad golf shot that comes as the result of making poor contact on the clubface with the ball.

Tee: Peg used to hold the golf ball in place above the ground at the beginning of the hole.

Tee marker: A series of color coordinated objects placed on a tee box which are designed to tell people where they should hit their tee shot from.

Flagstick: A pole and flag that is placed in the hole in order to tell players where the hole is located on the green.

Clubhouse: The building where a golf course conducts their business and players check in before playing.

USGA Slope Rating: a number that indicates the difficulty of a set of tees on a golf course from 55-155.

Golf Organizations

United States Golf Association – USGA: The governing body for golf in the United States and Mexico

Royal and Ancient – R&A: Governing body for the game of golf in conjunction with the USGA. Based in Scotland.

Professional Golfers Association – PGA: The organizing body for professional golf tours across the world.

Golf Clubs

For a new player, the wide variety of golf clubs in a set can be difficult to understand. The following information will break down the role of each golf club to give you an idea of when to use each one.

Driver: A driver is the longest and least lofted club in the golf bag and is typically used to hit the ball off a tee in order to start the hole.  Because of its length and loft, the driver will make the ball go the farthest distance of any club. The head of a driver is the biggest of any type of golf club which makes them difficult to hit off the ground. A golfer will typically have one driver in their golf bag.

Fairway Woods: Fairway woods are slightly shorter and more lofted than a driver and they are used to hit the golf ball a long distance whether on the ground or on a tee. This club would typically be used as the first shot off the tee box or as a second shot on a long hole. The clubhead of this type of club is slightly smaller than a driver which allows you to hit them off the ground. A golfer will typically have one or two woods in their golf bag.

Hybrids: A combination between an iron and a fairway wood that allows players to hit the ball a long distance with more forgiveness than an iron. A hybrid will be slightly shorter than a fairway wood with a smaller head. The smaller head allows the club to glide through the rough much easier than a fairway wood. A golfer will usually have one or two hybrids in their golf bag.

Irons: Irons make up the majority of the golf clubs in a golf bag and are the most versatile of any golf club. Irons will vary in length depending on the loft of the iron. The longer the iron, the less lofted it will be and the farther the ball will travel. Irons can be used anywhere on the course, from the tee box to around the greens. A typical set of golf clubs will include five or six irons.

Wedges: Golf clubs used to hit shots onto the green. Wedges are more lofted than irons and will launch the ball high into the air. The height of a wedge shot means the ball will travel a short distance but it will stop sooner once it hits the ground. This makes them the best option for landing a golf ball on the green. A set of golf clubs will typically have two to four wedges.

Putters: A putter is used on or around the green to roll the ball into the hole. This is the least lofted club of all with typically less than five degrees of loft. The point of a putter is to make a short and controlled swing to roll the ball across the ground and into the hole. A set of golf clubs will have one putter. 

Golf Balls: Despite what some may think, not all golf balls are the same. Top quality golf balls will typically feature a urethane cover which improves the feel when struck. High quality golf balls will also have at least three layers which helps maintain spin rates for improved results from tee to green.

Golf Equipment

The following list of gear is not required to enjoy yourself on the golf course but it will certainly make the game more enjoyable. It can be an expensive and intimidating process for a new player to get all of the popular equipment but it’s important to remember that you only need a set of golf clubs and potentially a collared shirt to get out on the golf course. This guide will help you determine which gear is most intriguing to you. 

Golf Rangefinder: Golf rangefinders allow players to figure out how far away they are from any target at any time. It uses a laser which projects out to a target and returns to the rangefinder to inform the golfer of the distance they are away from usually the flagstick or a hazard.

Golf GPS: Golf GPS are similar to a rangefinder in the sense that they will give you exact distances to specific spots on the golf course. Where the differ is the fact that a golf GPS will sometimes give you a map of the golf course but they are not able to give you distances to spots like specific trees like a rangefinder would.

Golf Bags: Unlike the rest of this list, golf bags are an essential piece of golf gear. Golf bags will hold all of your clubs and any gear that you decide to bring with you onto the course. These bags will come in a couple different styles for different player preferences.

For a player that mostly walks golf courses, a stand bag is the correct option. A stand golf bag is the smaller and lighter golf bag option and it will have shoulder straps and a stand to hold the bag upright.

If you’re a golfer that only rides in golf carts, then a cart bag might be the option for you. This is a much larger style that doesn’t have a stand. It’s meant to be placed on and strapped to the back of a golf cart. This will offer much more room for gear but it’s a poor options for walking the course.

Golf Gloves: For someone that plays golf consistently, a glove will prevent blisters on the hands from the golf club’s grip. A golfer will typically wear a single glove on their non dominant hand. Not only does this prevent blisters, you’ll also have improved grip on the club throughout the swing.

Rain Gear: If you’re a serious golfer, a few rainclouds isn’t going to be enough to keep you off the golf course. Instead of staying home, you’ll pack up your rain gear and head out. One of the most important things to buy is an umbrella. Golf companies make umbrellas that are much larger than typical umbrellas which allows you to stay dry while you walk the course.

Another great piece of rain gear is golf rain gloves. These gloves will be worn on both hands and the grip of your club will increase as they get wet. Rain gloves allow you to avoid club slipping when making a full swing.

Golf Towel: Any golf bag you buy will include a golf towel holder. Golf towels will come in handy more often than you’d think. A golf towel will give you easy access to clean your golf club after every shot. Access dirt buildup on the clubface will negatively affect your ball striking so it’s important to have one on your golf bag.

Golf Shoes: The benefits of having shoes that are specifically for golf are often overlooked by new players. Although sneakers may be a comfortable choice on the course, golf shoes will provide you a great deal of traction which improves your golf swing.

Golf courses are often wet and muddy, making it easy to slip or slide at any point of the swing. Golf shoes have either spikes or a ridge set up that keep your feet planted in place during the swing.

Golf shoes come in a giant array of style options from popular basketball sneakers to classic looking dress shoes, you can certainly find a golf shoe that fits your style.

Golf Grips: Golf grips are placed on the end of a golf clubs shaft and are intended to keep your hands in place during the swing. Grips are offered in different materials for all sorts of players preferences. Some may be rougher while others may be completely smooth.

For an avid golfer, grips can become worn out in a year or two which makes them much less effective in supporting a solid grip. It’s important to check your golf grips for worn spots and replace them when needed if you are hoping to have a consistent grip.

Sun Protection

When you consider the amount of time you spend exposed to the sun during a round of golf, it becomes easy to see why sun protection is important.

Golf Sunglasses: A lot of the biggest names in sports sunglasses make models that are specific to golf. Golf specific sunglasses offer numerous advantages on the course. One of the most obvious advantages is high contrast lenses that will make the golf course seem like its high definition and lens colors that assist in seeing the golf ball fly through the air.

Another benefit of golf sunglasses is the UV protection that most companies will provide. This will protect your eyes from harmful sun rays while you play golf. Some people may prefer not to wear sunglasses on the golf course for comfort reasons but they can be helpful.

Sunscreen: Sunscreen is important on the golf course because of the extended periods of time that you spend outside while playing golf. Any given round of golf can take up to four or five hours which is a long time to be exposed to the sun.

Golf Hat: Wearing a hat while you play golf will help keep the sun out of your face and eyes and protect you from sun rays. Most golfers will wear baseball style hats in order to shield your eyes from the sun which helps you see ball flights and long distances on the golf course. Some players will prefer to take it to the next level by wearing a sun hat or bucket hat that offers 360 degrees of head protection.

The Rules of Golf

The rules of golf are the most complex aspect of the entire sport. It can be difficult to learn them on your own so the best way to get used to the rules is by playing with someone who has experience. If you don’t have this option, the following link will tell you all of the rules you need to know.

Golf Handicaps Explained

A handicap is a numerical ranking system that categorizes a golfer’s potential. The lower the handicap number, the better the player. Handicaps allow for adjustments to make it an even match when players of varying skill levels compete against one another.

Many tournaments will require that all players have handicaps in order to keep an even playing field. In order to establish a golf handicap, you must join an established golf organization like the USGA. Once you play at least five full rounds of 18 holes, you will have a handicap number.

Golf Etiquette:

Golf etiquette rules are not in the USGA Rule book but they are important to be aware of. Golf etiquette is especially important if you ever plan on playing golf with strangers or competitively in order to keep from embarrassing yourself or making someone upset.

The following information will give you the basic golf etiquette rules from the first tee box to the final green.

Anywhere on the golf course: Always try to keep up with the pace of your group and the group in front of you. Nobody wants to wait for someone to take twenty practice swings. By keeping pace, you and the players in your group will have a more enjoyable experience.

Always repair divots that you take from the fairway and the green. It’s important to leave the golf course as you found it or even better than you found it.

Tee Box: When hitting a tee shot, the person with the lowest score on the last hole is traditionally the person that tees off first.

Fairway/Rough: You never want to stand in someone’s line of sight when they are about to hit a shot. This is important to keep in mind for your own safety and so you don’t distract the person whose turn it is.

Traditionally, the person who is farthest away from the hole should be the one to hit their shot and the others should stay behind them.

Green: When on the green, you never want to walk in between a players ball and the hole. Otherwise known as, walking in someone’s “line.” People don’t appreciate this because they feel like you are going to affect their putt with your foot prints.

While on the green, the person who is farthest away from the hole should be the one to hit their putt. This keeps the area of the hole clear of other players when someone is trying to make a putt.

Also, you should always mark your golf ball when on the green, especially when your ball is in front of other players. Marking your ball clears the other players line of sight and play.

On the final green, it’s tradition for players to take off their hats and shake hands once everyone has finished. Be prepared for this moment at the end of the round.