Golf is one of few sports that is not played on a standardised playing surface, meaning that, providing you have a hole, a teeing ground, a club and a ball, it can, theoretically, be played anywhere!
The game began on the links of Scotland; poor quality grazing land on sandy soils by the sea. With the growth of the game throughout the world, however, golf is being played in increasingly diverse regions and climates, from deserts to rainforests.
A golf course usually consists of nine or 18 holes. Play starts on a teeing ground and ends when the golfer gets his ball into the hole cut into the ground on the green or putting surface. A flagstick displays the location of the hole.
Each hole will have a ‘par’ of three, four or five – though there are rare exceptions to this rule. On a ‘par-four’ or a longer ‘par-five’ hole, players will aim to hit the fairway with their first shot before attempting to reach the green with their next strokes. On a ‘par-three’, however, a player will attempt to strike the ball onto the green, directly from the teeing-ground.
Different heights of grass are cut between the teeing ground and green to increase difficulty and punish bad shots. The tee provides a level stance and closely mown grass so the golfer has every chance to make a decent attempt for the first stroke at each hole. The fairway provides short grass and good lies. The rough provides progressively longer grass and other forms of vegetation that increase the difficulty of recovery the further you are away from the fairway. The green will always be the area most closely mown to create a smooth surface suitable for putting.
The staff responsible for the care of the golf course will, generally, include highly trained individuals who are responsible for the facilities prime asset. The skill set required to care for a course is immense, covering many disciplines.
Aside from that brief introduction, it’s very difficult to generalise about golf courses. Every single layout worldwide will possess dozens of idiosyncrasies that make that particular course unique – and the game is all the more enjoyable for it.
The R&A is working to protect the enjoyment of the game and to safeguard the financial operations of golf facilities, in a manner which preserves natural environments and enhances community engagement. Find out more about R&A Course Management.