The two guiding principles behind the Rules of Golf are to play the ball as it lies and to play the course as you find it. In its simplest form, golf is about playing the ball from teeing area to the hole by hitting it with a golf club, and not otherwise touching the ball. A fundamental challenge of the sport is to deal with whatever position your ball comes to rest in – whether good or bad. While there are some necessary exceptions (such as obstructions and other abnormal course conditions), the essential nature of golf means these must remain exceptions rather than the norm.
Unlike sports with a standardized court, field, or pool dimensions, golf courses come in all shapes and styles. The Old Course in St. Andrews, the world’s oldest course, was once 22 holes, but later shortened to 18. Today, most golf courses are 18 holes but there are many 9-hole courses, and even some that are an unusual number like 6 or 12. Golf courses can be found in deserts, along oceans, and in forests. It’s played on all types of grasses and climates. The only truly uniform thing about a golf course is the size of the hole: 4 ¼ inches in diameter.
Each hole begins in the teeing area, and ends when the player hits the ball into the hole (or in another way as allowed by the Rules). Holes are varied in distance and typically are either a par 3, 4, or 5.
The Golf Ball
There are many different brands, colors, and constructions of golf balls that are allowed to be played under the rules of golf. The USGA stipulates the golf ball must be no more than 1.620 oz. avoirdupois and has a diameter of no less than 1.680”.
Unit of Measure
Golf courses in North America and many other parts of the world are measured in yards. Many courses abroad are measured in meters.
Each hole begins on the “tee” which is designated with two markers, and the golfer must tee off in between them and no more than two club lengths behind them.
There are many different types of clubs. Many players start the hole by using a driver, and on or near the putting green, players often choose to use their putter. In between, there are a variety of woods, irons, and wedges, all designed to move the ball different distances.