Golf is a beautiful game in which participants play balls by striking them with specific clubs. The goal is to get the balls into certain holes in the ground. Typical golf courses have a set number of holes, such as 9, 18 or even more. A player focuses on one hole at a time. He or she strives to hole the ball in as small a number of strokes as possible. Once the ball is in, he or she can move on to the next hole.
There are two ways in which golf is played. In stroke play the winner is the player who plays all holes with the minimum number of strokes. In match play a round is won by the player or team that has the lowest score on most individual holes.
Generally, holes are played in order. Hole has a double meaning. Beside the commonly known definition, it also represents the entire surrounding area of the actual carving in the ground. The hole includes three elements, as follows. The tee is the area of the initial stroke. Then there is the green, which is the area of the actual hole. Finally, there is the fairway, which is the area in-between the tee and the green.
Golf is different from most outdoor sports played in a typical rectangular, flat and level enclosure. Golf grounds do not have any particular shape or dimension; they are simply carved out of a scenic natural spot with maintained lawn. Various "obstacles", such as sandy areas, miniature lakes and trees spot a golf course. Every course has a different design. Generally, the area is quite three dimensional, with ups and downs and blends well with the environment.
Many golf courses have more than one tee per hole. This is to accommodate players of different strengths. The furthest tee from the hole is for professionals or tournaments and is usually marked with blue. The rest of the tees are positioned closer and closer to the hole, usually in a straight line. They can be marked with white, red and green, respectively. The white tee is for men, the red for ladies and the green one is for juniors, beginners and older people.
The entire hole area is mown. Additionally, the green is mown very closely, to allow for short range, precision strokes.
Various types of clubs and golf balls are used while playing golf. It is important to choose them properly, because some are for long strokes, others are for short, soft strokes. Some clubs can even make a ball fly over a close, tall obstacle, such as a tree, and land it just behind it.
The three main parts of a club are: the grip, the shaft and the head. A player holds the club by the grip. The club head is the part that hits the ball. In principle, longer and heavier clubs are used for long strokes. The lighter ones are used for short, precision strokes.
Contemporary golf balls are white colored plastic spheres with dimples. The dimple design helps to reduce air resistance, thus allowing for greater speed. Golf shoes are designed with plastic spikes or cleats to minimize sliding, especially on wet turf.
Golfers carry quite a few clubs with them in an especially designed golf bag. The reason for so many clubs is the need to accommodate any type of stroke that might be needed. A golf bag has designated pockets for gloves, balls and other accessories. Bags can be carried in bag carts, which simply equip the bags with wheels. The bag-cart ensemble resembles a pram and is pushed or pulled by the walking golfers. Moreover, golfers can climb themselves and load their accessories in an electric golf cart. A typical golf cart is a light vehicle that fits two people.
When striking a ball, a player needs to carefully evaluate a few factors. Some of these are the wind speed, the distance he or she wants to cover with that stroke. In how many steps does the player plan to get the ball on the green? How difficult is the hole, what is the angle and general geometry of the landing area? What are the chances to get into a tight situation? A tight situation might be, for example, landing the ball in water or in-between trees.