Golf

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This article is about the game of golf. For other meanings, see Golf (disambiguation).
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Golfer teeing off at the start of a hole

Golf is a game where individual players or teams hit a ball into a hole using various clubs. It is defined in the Rules of Golf as "playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules."

Golf originated in Scotland and has been played for several centuries in the British Isles. The oldest course in the world is The Old Links at Musselburgh. Golf has been played on Musselburgh Links since 1672. Although often viewed as an elite pastime, golf is increasingly popular and continues to attract ever more players around the world.

Anatomy of a golf course

Golf is played by holes. It should be noted that "hole" can mean either the actual hole in the ground into which the ball is played, or the whole area from the teeing ground (an area of specially prepared grass from where a ball is first hit) to the putting green (the area around the actual hole in the ground). Most golf courses consist of 9 or 18 holes. (The "nineteenth hole" is the colloquial term for the bar at a club house.) For the shortest holes a good player requires only one stroke to hit the ball to the green. On longer holes the green is too far away to reach with the first stroke, so that one or more strokes are played from the fairway (where the grass is cut so low that most balls can be easily played) or from the rough (grass which is cut much longer than fairway grass, or which may be uncut). "Rough" also may be ground which is not prepared at all. In most cases, the rough extends along either side of the fairway.

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Bunkers at Filton Golf Club, Bristol, England

Many holes include hazards, namely bunkers (or sand traps), from which the ball is more difficult to play than from grass, and water hazards (lakes, ponds, rivers, etc.). Special rules apply to playing balls that come to rest in a hazard, which make it highly undesirable to play a ball into one. For example, a player must not touch the ground in a hazard with a club prior to playing a ball, not even for a practice swing. A ball in a water hazard may be played as it lies or may be replaced by dropping another ball outside the water, but a penalty is incurred in the latter case.

The grass of the putting green is cut very short so that a ball can roll easily over distances of several metres. "To putt" means to play a stroke, usually but not always on the green, where the ball does not leave the ground. The direction of growth of individual blades of grass affects the roll of a golf ball and is called the grain. The hole must have a diameter of 108 mm and a depth of at least 100 mm. Its position on the green is not static and may be changed from day to day. This hole on the green has a flag on a pole positioned in it so that it may be seen from some distance, but not necessarily from the tee. This flag is often called "the pin".

The borders of a course are marked as such, and beyond them is out of bounds, that is, ground from which a ball must not be played. Special rules determine how a golfer may proceed when his or her ball is very close to certain man-made objects on the course (obstructions) or resting upon ground in abnormal condition.

Every hole is classified by its par. The par of a hole is primarily but not exclusively determined by the distance from tee to green. Typical lengths for par three holes range from 100 to 224 m, for par four holes from 225 to 434 m, and for par five holes 435 m and greater. Par is the theoretical number of strokes that an expert golfer should require for playing the ball into any given hole. The expert golfer is expected to reach the green in two strokes under par (in regulation) and then use two putts to get the ball into the hole. Many 18-hole courses have approximately four par-three, ten par-four, and four par-five holes. The total par of an 18-hole course is usually around 72.

At most golf courses there are additional facilities that are not part of the course itself. Often there is a practice range, usually with practice greens, bunkers, and a driving area (where long shots can be practiced). There may even be a practice course (which is often easier to play or shorter than other golf courses). A golf school is often associated with a course or club.

Play of the game

Every game of golf is based on playing a number of holes in a given order. A round typically consists of 18 holes that are played in the order determined by the course layout. On a nine-hole course, a standard round consists of two successive nine-hole rounds. A hole of golf consists of hitting a ball from a tee on the teeing ground (a marked area designated for the first shot of a hole), and, once the ball comes to rest, striking it again, and repeating this process until the ball at last comes to rest in the cup. Once the ball is on the green (an area of finely cut grass) the ball is usually putted (hit along the ground) into the hole. The aim of holing the ball in as few strokes as possible may be impeded by various obstructions, such as bunkers and water hazards.

Players commonly drive motorized electric carts, or walk, over the course, either singly or in groups of two, three, or four, sometimes accompanied by caddies who carry and manage the players' equipment and give them advice. Each player plays a ball from the tee to the hole, except that in the mode of play called foursomes, two teams of two players compete, and the members of each team alternate shots using only one ball, until the ball is holed out. In all modes of play, when individual players have all brought a ball into play, the player whose ball is the farthest from the hole is next to play. In some team events, a player who is farthest from the hole may ask his or her partner who may be closer to the hole to play first. When all players of a group have completed the hole, the player or team with the best score on that hole has the honor, that is, the right to play first on the next tee.

Each player acts as marker for one other player in the group, that is, he or she records the score on a score card. In stroke play (see below), the score consists of the number of strokes played plus any penalty strokes incurred. Penalty strokes are not actually strokes but penalty points that are added to the score for violations of rules or for making use of relief procedures in certain situations.

Scoring

The two basic forms of playing golf are match play and stroke play.

  • In match play, two players (or two teams) play every hole as a separate contest against each other. The party with the lower score wins that hole, or if the scores of both players or teams are equal the hole is "halved" (drawn). The game is won by the party that wins more holes than the other. In the case that one team or player has taken a lead that cannot be overcome in the number of holes remaining to be played, the match is deemed to be won by the party in the lead, and the remainder of the holes are not played. For example, if one party already has a lead of six holes, and only five holes remain to be played on the course, the match is over. At any given point, if the lead is equal to the number of holes remaining, the match is said to be "dormie", and is continued until the leader increases the lead by one hole, thereby winning the match, or until the match ends in a tie. In some cases, a match may be continued past the predetermined number of holes until one side takes a one-hole lead, and thereupon immediately wins by one hole.
  • In stroke play, every player (or team) counts the number of shots taken for the whole round or tournament to produce the total score, and the player with the lowest score wins. A variant of stroke play is Stableford scoring, where a number of points (two for the target score) are given for each hole, and the fewer shots taken, the more points obtained, so the aim is to have as many points as possible. Another variant of stroke play, the Modified Stableford method, awards points on each hole in relation to par and then adds the points over a round; for more details on this method, see the article on The INTERNATIONAL, a tournament that uses Modified Stableford scoring.

There are many variations of these basic principles, some of which are explicitly described in the "Rules of Golf" and are therefore regarded "official". "Official" forms of play are, among others, foursome and four-ball games.

Team play

A foursome (defined in Rule 29) is played between two teams of two players each, in which each team has only one ball and players alternate playing it. For example, if players A and B form a team, A tees off on the first hole, B will play the second shot, A the third, and so on until the hole is finished. On the second hole, B will tee off (regardless who played the last putt on the first hole), then A plays the second shot, and so on. Foursomes can be played as match play or stroke play.

A four-ball (Rules 30 and 31) is also played between two teams of two players each, but every player plays his own ball and the lower score on each hole is counted. Four-balls can be played as match play or stroke play.

There are also popular unofficial variations on team play. In a scramble, or ambrose, each player in a team tees off on each hole, and the players decide which shot was best. Every player then plays his second shot from that spot, and the procedure is repeated until the hole is finished.

In a greensome both players tee off, and then pick the best shot as in a scramble. The player who did not shoot the best first shot plays the second shot. The play then alternates as in a foursome.

Handicap systems

Main article: Golf handicap

A handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur golfer's ability. It can be used to calculate a so-called "net" score from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on equal terms. Handicaps are administrated by golf clubs or national golf associations.

Handicap systems are not used in professional golf. Professional golfers typically score several strokes below par for a round.

Golf rules and other regulations

The rules of golf [1] are internationally standardised and are jointly governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA). By agreement with the R&A, USGA jurisdiction on the enforcement and interpretation of the rules is limited to the United States and Mexico. Because the rules of golf continue to evolve, amended versions of the rule book are usually published and made effective in a four-year cycle.

The underlying principle of the rules is fairness. As declared on the back cover of the official rule book: "play the ball as it lies", "play the course as you find it", and "if you can't do either, do what is fair". Some rules state that:

  • every player is entitled and obliged to play the ball from the position where it has come to rest after a stroke, unless a rule allows or demands otherwise (Rule 13-1)
  • a player must not accept assistance in making a stroke (Rule 14-2)
  • the condition of the ground or other parts of the course may not be altered to gain an advantage, except in some cases defined in the rules
  • a ball may only be replaced by another if it is destroyed, lost, or unplayable, and a penalty is incurred in the latter cases

The Decisions on the Rules of Golf are based on formal case decisions by the R&A and USGA and are published regularly.

The etiquette of golf, although not formally equivalent to the rules, are included in the publications on golf rules and are considered binding for every player. They cover matters such as safety, fairness, easiness and pace of play, and players' obligation to contribute to the care of the course.

There are strict regulations regarding the amateur status of golfers [2]. Essentially, everybody who has ever taught or played golf for money (or even accepted a trophy of more than a modest monetary value) is not considered an amateur and must not participate in amateur competitions.

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Strandhill Golf Club in Ireland is an example of a coastal links course.

Golf course architecture and design

While no two courses are alike, many can be classified into one of the following broad categories:

  • Links courses: the most traditional type of golf course, of which some century-old examples have survived in the British isles. Located in coastal areas, on sandy soil, often amid dunes, with few artificial water hazards and few if any trees. Traditional links courses, such as The Old Course at St. Andrews, are built on "land reclaimed from the sea," that is land that was once underwater.
  • Parkland courses: typical inland courses, often resembling traditional British parks, with lawn-like fairways and many trees.
  • Heathland – a more open, less-manicured inland course often featuring gorse and heather and typically less wooded than “parkland” courses. Examples include Woodhall Spa in England and Gleneagles in Scotland.
  • Desert courses: a rather recent invention, popular in Australia, parts of the USA and in the Middle East. Desert courses require heavy irrigation for maintenance of the turf, leading to concerns about the ecological consequences of excessive water consumption. A desert course also violates the widely accepted principle of golf course architecture that an aesthetically pleasing course should require minimal alteration of the existing landscape. Nevertheless, many players enjoy the unique experience of playing golf in the desert.
  • Sand courses: instead of a heavily irrigated 'green', the players play on sand.
  • Snow courses: another rather recent invention; golf being played on snow, typically with an orange colored or another brightly colored ball. Can be played in Arctic or subarctic regions during winter.

In the United States design varies widely, with courses such as the entirely artificial Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, where a course complete with waterfalls was created in the desert, and on the other end of the spectrum, Rustic Canyon outside of Los Angeles, which was created with a minimal amount of earth moving resulting in an affordable daily green fee and a more natural golfing experience.

As a point of safety for other players, and those further down the fairway, or anywhere you might hit the ball, yelling "Fore!" is considered a warning to beware of the ball so as to not be hit when it comes their way.

Hitting a golf ball

To hit the ball, the club is swung at the motionless ball on the ground (or wherever it has come to rest) from a side stance. Many golf shots make the ball travel through the air (carry) and roll out for some more distance (roll).

Every shot is a compromise between length and precision, as long shots are inevitably less precise than short ones. Obviously, a longer shot may result in a better score if it helps reduce the total number of strokes for a given hole, but the benefit may be more than outweighed by additional strokes or penalties if a ball is lost, out of bounds, or comes to rest on difficult ground. Therefore, a skilled golfer must assess the quality of his or her shots in a particular situation in order to judge whether the possible benefits of aggressive play are worth the risks.

There are several possible causes of poor shots, such as poor alignment of the club, wrong direction of swing, and off-center hits where the clubhead rotates around the ball at impact. Many of these troubles are aggravated with the "longer" clubs and higher speed of swing. Furthermore, the absolute effect of a deviation will increase with a longer shot compared with a short one.

Poor shots include the hook, in which the ball curves to the left (for a right-handed player), and a slice, in which the ball curves to the right (for a right-handed player; the reverse are true for left-handers).

Types of shots

  • A tee shot is the first shot played from a teeing ground. It is often made with a driver (i.e., a 1-wood) off a tee for long holes, or with an iron on shorter holes. Ideally, tee shots on long holes have a rather shallow flight and long roll of the ball, while tee shots on short holes are flighted higher and are expected to stop quickly.
  • A fairway shot is similar to a drive when done with a fairway wood. However, a tee may not be used once the ball has been brought into play; therefore, playing from the fairway may be more difficult depending on how the ball lies. If precision is more important than length (typically, when playing on narrow fairways or approaching a green), irons are usually played from the fairway. Irons or wedges are also often used when playing from the rough.
  • A bunker shot is played when the ball is in a bunker (sand trap). It resembles a pitch and is done with a wedge.
  • On the green, putts are played along the ground.

An approach shot is played into the green from outside the green, usually over an intermediate or short distance. Types of approach shots are:

  • Pitch: a high approach shot that makes the ball fly high and roll very little, stopping more or less where it hits the ground. Pitches are usually done with a wedge.
  • Flop: an even higher approach shot that stops shortly after it hits the ground. It is used when a player must play over an obstacle to the green. It is usually played with a sand wedge or a lob wedge.
  • Chip: a low approach shot where the ball makes a shallow flight and then rolls out on the green. Chips are done with a wedge or "short" (higher-numbered) iron.

The golf swing

Putts and short chips are ideally played without much movement of the body, but most other golf shots are played using variants of the full golf swing. The full golf swing itself is used in tee and fairway shots.

A full swing is a complex rotation of the body aimed at accelerating the club head to a great speed. For a right-handed golfer, it consists of a backswing to the right, a downswing to the left (in which the ball is hit), and a follow through. At address, the player stands with the left shoulder pointing in the intended direction of ball flight, with the ball before the feet. The club is held with both hands (right below left), the clubhead resting on the ground behind the ball, hips and knees somewhat flexed, and the arms hanging from the shoulders. The backswing is a rotation to the right, consisting of a shifting of the player's body weight to the right side, a turning of the pelvis and shoulders, lifting of the arms and flexing of the elbows and wrists. At the end of the backswing the hands are above the right shoulder, with the club pointing more or less in the intended direction of ball flight. The downswing is roughly a backswing reversed. After the ball is hit, the follow-through stage consists of a continued rotation to the left. At the end of the swing, the weight has shifted almost entirely to the left foot, the body is fully turned to the left and the hands are above the left shoulder with the club hanging down over the players' back.

Relatively few golfers play left-handed (i.e., swing back to the left and forward to the right), with even players who are strongly left-handed in their daily life preferring the right-handed golf swing. In the past, this may have been due to the difficulty of finding left-handed golf clubs. Today, more manufacturers provide left-handed versions of their club lines, and the clubs are more readily purchased from mail-order and Internet catalogues. A golfer who plays right-handed, but holds the club left-hand-below-right is said to be "cack-handed". It is difficult to obtain the same consistency and power with this arrangement as is possible with conventional technique.

The full golf swing is an unnatural, highly complex motion and notoriously difficult to learn. It is not uncommon for beginners to spend several months practising the very basics before playing their first ball on a course. It is usually considered impossible to acquire a stable and successful swing without professional instruction, and even highly skilled golfers may continue to take golf lessons for many years. Much has developed around how hard the golf swing is to learn and execute, and how one must be persistent to keep at it.

Besides the physical part, the mental aspect of the golf swing is very difficult. Golfers play against the course, not each other directly, and hit a stationary object, not one put into motion by an opponent. This means that there is never anyone to blame but oneself for a bad result, and in most competitive formats there are no teammates to directly help one out. Knowledge of this creates a great deal of psychological pressure on the golfer; this pressure exists at all levels of play. Even the best professional golfers sometimes succumb to this pressure, such as getting the "yips" and being unable to make short putts, or having collapses of their full swing.

Physics of a golf shot

A golf ball acquires spin when it is hit. Backspin is imparted in almost every shot due to the golf club's loft (i.e., angle between the clubface and a vertical plane). A spinning ball deforms the flow of air around it [3] and thereby acts similar to an aeroplane wing; a back-spinning ball therefore experiences an upward force which makes it fly higher and longer than a ball without spin would. The amount of backspin also influences the behavior of a ball when it hits the ground. A ball with little backspin will usually roll out for a considerable distance while a ball with much backspin may not roll at all or in some cases even roll backwards. Sidespin occurs when the clubface is not aligned perpendicularly to the plane of swing. Sidespin makes the ball curve to the left or right, a hook or slice respectively for a right-handed player; this effect can be made use of to steer it around obstacles or towards the safe side of a difficult fairway. However, it is difficult to control the amount of sidespin, and many poor shots result from uncontrolled or excessive spin that makes the ball curve sharply.


A Golf Driver(Wood) imparts side spin on a ball at impact(and hence this is why you get so much curve with the woods) whereas a iron imparts backspin onto a ball, advanced players actually "hit down" on the ball (approx half-way down the ball in effect squeezing the ball between the club and turf) which causes increased spin and the "spin back" shot-where the ball lands on the green and spins back.

Equipment

Golf clubs

Main article: Golf club (equipment)

A player usually carries several clubs during the game (but no more than fourteen, the limit defined by the rules). There are three major types of clubs, known as woods, irons, and putters. Wedges are irons used to play shorter shots. Woods are played for long shots from the tee or fairway, and occasionally rough, while irons are for precision shots from fairways as well as from the rough. A new type of wood known as a "hybrid" combines the straight-hitting characteristics of irons with the easy-to-hit-in-the-air characteristics of higher-lofted woods. A "hybrid" is often used for long shots from difficult rough. Hybrids are also used by players who have a difficult time getting the ball airborne with long irons. Wedges are played from difficult ground such as sand or the rough and for approach shots to the green. Putters are mostly played on the green, but can also be useful when playing from bunkers or for some approach shots.

Golf balls

Main article: Golf ball

Other equipment

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Golf tees, used to prop up the ball on the tee

Sometimes transport is by special golf carts. Clubs and other equipment are carried in golf bags. Golfers wear special shoes with exchangeable spikes (or little, plastic claws termed soft spikes) attached to the soles. They also often wear gloves that help grip the club. Tees resemble nails with a flattened head and are usually made of wood or plastic. A tee is pushed into the ground to rest a ball on top of for an easier shot; however, this is only allowed for the first stroke (tee shot or drive) of each hole. When on the green, the ball may be picked up to be cleaned or if it is in the way of an opponent's putting line; its position must then be marked using a ball marker (usually a flat, round piece of plastic or a coin). Scores are recorded on a score card during the round.

History

See also Timeline of golf history 1353-1850, Timeline of golf history 1851-1945, and Timeline of golf history 1945-1999.

Golf is usually regarded as a Scottish invention, as the game was mentioned in two 15th-century laws prohibiting the playing of the game of "gowf". Some scholars, however, suggest that this refers to another game which is much akin to shinty or hurling, or to modern field hockey. They point out that a game of putting a small ball in a hole in the ground using golf clubs was played in 17th-century Netherlands. Primatively, the action of using a stick with a boxed attachment to hit stones close to a marked target, similar to that of bocce, originated in Italy. The term golf is believed to have originated from a Germanic word for "club". It has been hypothesised that golf is actually an acronym for gentlemen only; ladies forbidden, but this is believed to be an urban legend.

The oldest playing golf course in the world is The Old Links at Musselburgh. Evidence has shown that golf was played on Musselburgh Links in 1672 although Mary Queen of Scots reputedly played there in 1567. The major changes in equipment since the 19th century have been better mowers, especially for the greens, better golf ball designs, using rubber and man-made materials since about 1900, and the introduction of the metal shaft beginning in the 1930s. Also in the 1930s the wooden golf tee was invented. In the 1970s the use of metal to replace wood heads began, and shafts made of graphite composite materials were introduced in the 1980s.

Social aspects of golf

In the United States, golf is the unofficial game of the business world. It is often said, in fact, that board meetings merely confirm decisions that are actually made on the golf course. For this reason, the successful conduct of business golf (which extends beyond merely knowing the game) is considered a useful business skill; many business schools include a "business golf" course.

Golf is not inherently an expensive activity; the cost of an average round of golf is USD $36 [4], and the game is regularly enjoyed by over 26 million Americans and many more world-wide. In fact, most regions of the country feature public courses which strive to be affordable for the average golfer. But the perception of golf as a game for the wealthy elite and country clubs as a haven for corrupt businessmen is common among many. Films such as Caddyshack perpetuate this belief. It is also probably fair to say that the snobbish attitude of many golf club patrons (and particularly members) cannot be denied.

This being said the social status of better (and usually more expensive) equipment cannot be overlooked. In order to be outfitted with the latest equipment (including rather expensive clothing, shoes and gloves) one can end up spending quite a sum. Also, greens fees at some of the more picturesque and prestigious courses can be quite sizeable.

Golfing countries

In 2005 Golf Digest calculated that there were nearly 32,000 golf courses in the world, approximately half of them in the United States. [5] The countries with most golf courses in relation to population, starting with the best endowed were: Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, Wales, United States, Sweden, and England (countries with less than 500,000 people were excluded). Apart from Sweden all of these are countries where English is the main language, but the number of courses in new golfing territories is increasing rapidly. For example the first golf course in the People's Republic of China only opened in the mid-1980s, but by 2005 there were 200 courses in that country.

The professional game was initially dominated by British golfers, but since World War I, America has produced the greatest quantity of leading professionals. Other Commonwealth countries such as Australia and South Africa are also traditional powers in the game. Since around the 1970s, Japan and various Western European countries have produced leading players on a regular basis. The number of countries with high-class professionals continues to increase steadily, especially in East Asia. South Korea is notably strong in women's golf.

Professional golf

Golf is played professionally in many different countries. The majority of professional golfers work as club or teaching professionals, and only compete in local competitions. A small elite of professional golfers are "tournament pros" who compete full time on international "tours".

Golf tours

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Tiger Woods, who is currently the leading professional golfer in the World.
Main article: Professional golf tours

There are at least twenty professional golf tours, each run by a PGA or an independent tour organisation, which is responsible for arranging events, finding sponsors, and regulating the tour. Typically a tour has "members" who are entitled to compete in all of its events, and also invites non-members to compete in some of them. Gaining membership of an elite tour is highly competitive, and most professional golfers never achieve it.

The most widely known tour is the PGA TOUR (officially rendered in all caps), which attracts the best golfers from all the other men's tours. This is due mostly to the fact that most PGA TOUR events have a first prize of at least USD 800,000. PGA TOUR wins can mean endorsement deals, automatically provide the winner a minimum two-year exemption to play in other tournaments, and supply the prestige earned by beating the best of the best. The PGA European Tour, which attracts a substantial number of top golfers from outside North America, ranks only slightly below the PGA TOUR in worldwide prestige. Some top professionals from outside North America play enough tournaments to maintain membership on both the PGA TOUR and European Tour. There are several other men's tours around the world.

Golf is unique in having lucrative competition for older players. There are several senior tours for men 50 and older, the best known of which is the U.S.-based Champions Tour.

There are five principal tours for women, each based in a different country or continent. The most prestigious of these is the U.S-based LPGA Tour.

Men's major championships

Main article: Majors

The major championships are the four most prestigious men's tournaments of the year. In current (2005) chronological order they are:

The fields for these events include the top several dozen golfers from all over the world. The Masters has been played at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia since its inception in 1934. The U.S. Open and PGA Championship are played at various courses around the United States, while The Open Championship is played at various courses in the UK.

The number of major championships a player accumulates in his career has a very large impact on his stature in the game. Jack Nicklaus is widely regarded as the greatest golfer of all time, largely because he has won a record 18 professional majors, or 20 majors in total if his two U.S. Amateurs are included. Tiger Woods, who may be the only golfer likely to challenge Nicklaus's record, has won ten majors, all before the age of thirty. Woods also came closest to winning all four current majors in one season (known as a Grand Slam) when he won them consecutively across two seasons: the 2000 U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship; and the 2001 Masters. This feat has been frequently called the Tiger Slam.

Prior to the advent of the PGA Championship and The Masters, the four Majors were the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur, the Open Championship, and the British Amateur. These are the four that Bobby Jones won in 1930 to become the only player ever to have earned a Grand Slam.

Women's majors

Main article: Women's majors

Women's golf does not have a globally agreed set of majors. The LPGA's list of majors has changed several times over the years, with the last change in 2001. Like the PGA TOUR, the LPGA currently has four majors:

Only the last of these is also recognised by the Ladies European Tour.

Environmental impact

Environmental concerns over the use of land for golf courses have grown over the past 30 years. Specific concerns include the amount of water and chemical pesticides and fertilizers used for maintenance, as well as the destruction of wetlands and other environmentally important areas during construction.

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Wildlife is sometimes seen on golf courses but not encouraged due to damage it causes to the course.

These, along with health and cost concerns, have led to significant research into more environmentally sound practices and turf grasses. The modern golf course superintendent is well trained in the uses of these practices and grasses. This has led to reductions in the amount of chemicals and water used on courses. The turf on golf courses is an excellent filter for water and has been used in many communities to cleanse grey water. While many people continue to oppose golf courses for environmental reasons, there are others who feel that they are beneficial for the community and the environment as they provide corridors for migrating animals and sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife.

A major result of modern equipment is that today's players can hit the ball much further than previously. In a concern for safety, modern golf course architects have had to lengthen and widen their design envelope. This has led to a ten percent increase in the amount of area that is required for golf courses today. At the same time, water restrictions placed by many communities have forced many courses to limit the amount of maintained turf grass. While most modern 18-hole golf courses occupy as much as 60 ha (150 acres) of land, the average course has 30 ha (75 acres) of maintained turf. (Sources include the National Golf Foundation and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America [GCSAA].)

Golf courses are built on many different types of land, including sandy areas along coasts, abandoned farms, strip mines and quarries, deserts and forests. Many Western countries have instituted significant environmental restrictions on where and how courses can be built.

In some parts of the world, attempts to build courses and resorts have led to significant protests along with vandalism and violence by both sides. Although golf is a relatively minor issue compared to other land-ethics questions, it has symbolic importance as it is a game normally associated with the wealthier Westernized population, and the culture of colonization and globalization of non-native land ethics. Resisting golf tourism and golf's expansion has become an objective of some land-reform movements, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia.

In Saudi Arabia, golf courses have been constructed on nothing more than oil-covered sand. However, in some cities such as Dhahran, modern, grass golf courses have been built recently.

In Coober Pedy, Australia, there is a famous golf course that consists of nine holes dug into mounds of sand, diesel and oil and not a blade of grass or a tree to be seen. You carry a small piece of astroturf from which you tee.

In New Zealand it is not uncommon for rural courses to have greens fenced off and sheep graze the fairways.

See also

External links

General

Regulations and associations

Professional tours

Architecture and maintenance of golf courses

Miscellaneous

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