Golf is a sport which originated in Scotland around the middle of the 15th century and
has exploded in popularity during the 20th century. Golf play involves using clubs to
hit a small ball into a series of holes arranged around a specially landscaped course.
A round of golf consists of sequentially playing all the holes on a course. On most
courses, this will number 18 holes. Nine hole courses are common, and on this type of
course, a standard round consists of two consecutive nine-hole rounds. A hole of golf
involves hitting the ball from the designated starting point (the tee), hitting it
again when it comes to rest, and so on until the ball is in the cup. As soon as the
ball is on the fine surface of the green (the area immediately surrounding the cup) the
ball is generally putted to roll along the surface rather than hit through the air.
Each golf hole is classified by its par. The par of a hole is the number of strokes a
skilled golfer should take to play the hole. Every par contains two putts, plus the
number of strokes required to move the ball from the tee to the green. The ultimate
goal of golf is to complete the round and come in under par.
The two basic forms of golf are match play and stroke play. In match play, each hole is
considered as a unique contest between players, and the player who wins the most holes
is the overall winnter for the round. In stroke play, each stroke is counted towards
the ultimate score and the player who completed the round with the lowest number of
shots wins the round.
The rules governing amateurism in golf are very strict. Generally speaking, anyone who
has ever received monetary compensation for instruction or play is considered a
professional and is therefore not eligible to participate in amateur events. The
widespread need for golf instructors has therefore produced a great number of
professional golfers. Most professional golfers work as teaching professionals and
compete in local competitions only. A very small elite of pro golfers are tournament
pros and compete full time in high stakes golf tournaments and international tours. The
four major men's championships are The Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship,
and the PGA Championship.