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Basic Golf Overview

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Golf is a sport played on a grass course, where clubs are used to hit a small ball to get it into a series of holes along the course. Players compete individually, earning a score that reflects the number of strokes taken during the match. The player with the fewest total strokes at the end of the game wins.

When Was Golf Invented?

Stick-and-ball games similar to golf were played in ancient Rome thousands of years ago. However, the game of golf first appeared around the 15th century. 

Who Invented Golf? 

The game originated in Scotland, where it was originally played by royalty and elite members of society.

The Basic History of Golf

By hitting a stuffed leather ball with a bent stick, ancient Romans created the earliest form of golf around 100 B.C. Later, a game called chuiwan which involved hitting a ball with a stick at a walking pace was played in China as far back as the 10th century. While these games were similar to golf, they aren’t considered to be directly related to the sport that is played today.

It wasn’t until the 15th century that modern golf first appeared. It is traced back to Scotland, where it was actually banned for several decades in an effort to focus on archery and other military training efforts. After the ban was lifted in 1500, King James IV of Scotland took up the game and contributed to its growing popularity in the country. 

The first official rules of the game were established by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in 1744. The Society of St. Andrew Golfers, another influential group in the sport, was formed in 1754. This quickly became known as the world’s premier golf club. In 1764, St. Andrews reduced the number of holes on the course from 22 to 18, creating the familiar format that is still used today.

Golf Spreads Internationally

Mary Queen of Scots had also become a fan of golf by the mid-16th century. In fact, she is sometimes credited as the first known female golfer, as she was introduced to the game in France while studying there. French military cadets acted as her aides, which is where the term “caddie” originated. 

Early references to golf in England date back to the 1600s. Around this time, King James VI and King Charles I helped to popularize the game in the country. In 1682, two Scotsmen and two Englishmen participated in the first international golf match held at Leith near Edinburgh, with the Scottish coming out victorious.

The first official golf club that was formed outside of Scotland was the Royal Blackheath Golf Club near London in 1766. By the 1800s, the game began to catch on throughout India, New Zealand, Australia, France, Ireland, India, and the British Isles, largely due to the spread of the British Empire. Great Britain held its first Amateur Championship in 1885.

The sport was introduced to the U.S. and Canada due to the arrival of settlers from across the Atlantic. The game became more popular and spread across the continent as settlers moved inland. The Royal Montreal Golf Club was established in Canada in 1873. In the U.S., early golf clubs were created in Yonkers, New York; Newport, Rhode Island; and Wheaton, Illinois. The United States Golf Association (USGA) was established in 1894, and one year later the first U.S. National Amateur, Women’s Amateur, and Open championships were held. By 1900, there were more than 1,000 golf clubs throughout the United States.

The Evolution of Golf Equipment 

The first clubs for modern golf were constructed of wood, typically taken from either beech trees or fruit trees. Golf balls were originally made of wood as well, but lighter balls composed of feathers stuffed inside stitched leather were introduced in the early 17th century. These balls were difficult to make and quite expensive, and they quickly became soggy in damp conditions.

Equipment became more sophisticated during the 18th century. Some club heads were made from iron rather than wood, adding more force to each stroke. Players began to use more clubs, with different designs applied for specific types of strokes. In addition, balls were made from gutta-percha, a plastic substance sourced from Malaysian trees. These balls were the first to feature indented surfaces for improved flight distance. They were also easier to produce and more affordable.

In the 20th century, rubber balls were first introduced to the game. Englishman William Taylor secured a patent for the dimpled ball surface. This allowed golfers to hit the ball further, and many courses moved teeing grounds back as a result. Around that time, many players began using clubs with steel shafts. Later, lightweight metals like titanium were used to manufacture golf clubs.

Though the sport had started out as a game played by the elite and wealthy due to the expensive, handcrafted equipment, advancements in the production of golf balls and clubs brought down costs and made the game much more affordable for those of more modest means.

The Basic Rules & Gameplay of Golf

What Is the Objective of Golf? 

The objective of golf is to get the ball into the holes on the course using as few strokes as possible. Players also try to avoid obstacles along the course, such as bunkers, water features, or trees, in order to keep their score low. The player with the fewest total strokes at the end of the game wins.

What Are the Basic Rules of Golf?

The Basic Equipment in Golf

The essential equipment for golf includes balls, tees, and clubs. 

The size of the ball was originally standardized using what was called the “1.62 formula,” meaning it would have a maximum weight of 1.62 ounces and a minimum diameter of 1.62 inches. The size was increased to 1.68 inches in 1932. Tees are made from wood or plastic and feature a flat top to place the ball on and a tapered end that can be inserted into the ground.

There are a number of clubs used in golf. 

Overall, the lower the number of the club, the farther it can hit the ball, while the higher the number, the higher the ball can be hit. There are several categories of golf clubs:

Golf Course  

A standard golf course has 18 holes which measure from 100 to 600 yards each (with most courses measuring 6,500 to 7,000 yards total). Each hole features the following areas:

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