The Game of Golf
The origin of golf is unclear and open to debate. Some historians trace the sport back to the Roman game of paganica, in which participants used a bent stick to hit a stuffed leather ball. One theory asserts that paganica spread throughout Europe as the Romans conquered most of the continent, during the first century B.C., and eventually evolved into the modern game. Others cite chuiwan ("chui" means striking and "wan" means small ball) as the progenitor, a Chinese game played between the eighth and 14th centuries. A Ming Dynasty scroll dating back to 1368 entitled "The Autumn Banquet", shows a member of the Chinese Imperial court swinging what appears to be a golf club at a small ball with the aim of sinking it into a hole. The game is thought to have been introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages. Another early game that resembled modern golf was known as cambuca in England and chambot in France. This game was, in turn, exported to the Low Countries, Germany, and England (where it was called pall-mall, pronounced “pell mell”). Some observers, however, believe that golf descended from the Persian game, chaugán. In addition, kolven (a game involving a ball and curved bats) was played annually in Loenen, Netherlands, beginning in 1297, to commemorate the capture of the assassin of Floris V, a year earlier.
According to the most widely accepted account, however, the modern game of golf originated in Scotland around the 12th century, with shepherds knocking stones into rabbit holes on the current site of the Old Course at St Andrews.
The Golf Course
A golf course consists of a series of holes, each with a teeing area that is set off by two markers showing the bounds of the legal tee area, fairway, rough and other hazards, and the putting green surrounded by the fringe with the pin (flagstick) and cup. Different levels of grass are varied to increase difficulty, or to allow for putting in the case of the green. While many holes are designed with a direct line-of-sight from the tee-off point to the green, some of the holes may bend, either to the left or to the right. This is called a "dogleg", in reference to a dog's knee. The hole is called a "dogleg left" if the hole angles leftwards and vice versa; sometimes, a hole's direction can bend twice and is called a "double dogleg". A typical golf course consists of 18 holes but nine hole courses are common and can be played twice through for 18 holes.
Early Scottish golf courses were primarily laid out on links land, soil covered sand dunes directly inland from beaches. This gave rise to the term golf links, particularly applied to seaside courses and those built on naturally sandy soil inland.
Playing the Game
Every round 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 consecutive nine-hole rounds. Playing a hole on a golf course is initiated by putting a ball into play by striking it with a club on the teeing area (also called the "tee box" or simply "the tee.") When this initial stroke (or "shot") is required to be a long one due to the length of the hole, it is usual (but not required) for a golfer to suspend (or "tee") the ball on a tee prior to striking it. A "tee" in this last sense is a small peg which can be used to elevate the ball slightly above the ground up to a few centimeters high. This elevation is at the discretion of the golfer. Tee pegs are commonly made of wood but may be constructed of any material; the ball may even be "tee'd" on a mound of grass or dirt (at one time a small pile of sand placed by the golfer was routinely used and sand was provided at teeing areas for golfers' use).
When the initial shot on a hole is a long-distance shot intended to move the ball a great distance down the fairway, this shot is commonly called a "drive." Shorter holes generally are initiated with "shorter" clubs. Once the ball comes to rest, the golfer strikes it again as many times as necessary using shots that are variously known as a lay-up, an approach, a "pitch", or a chip, until the ball reaches the green, where he or she then putts the ball into the hole (commonly called "sinking the putt"). The goal of getting the ball into the hole ("holing" the ball) in as few strokes as possible may be impeded by obstacles such as areas of long grass called rough (usually found alongside fairways) which both impedes advancement and makes it harder to advance the golf ball, bunkers ("sand traps"), and water hazards. In most forms of gameplay, each player plays his or her ball until it is holed.
Players can walk or drive in motorized carts over the course. Play can be done either singly or in groups and sometimes accompanied by caddies, who carry and manage the players' equipment and who are allowed by the rules to give advice on the play of the course. A caddies' advice can only be given to the player or players for whom the caddy is working, and not to competing players.
Rules and Regulations
The rules of golf are internationally standardised and are jointly governed by The R&A, spun off in 2004 from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (founded 1754), and the United States Golf Association (USGA).
The underlying principle of the rules is fairness. As stated 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 cannot do either, do what is fair.
There are strict regulations regarding the amateur status of golfers. Essentially, anybody who has ever received payment or compensation for giving instruction, or played golf for money, is not considered an amateur and may not participate in competitions limited solely to amateurs. However, amateur golfers may receive expenses which comply with strict guidelines and they may accept non-cash prizes within the limits established by the Rules of Amateur Status.
In addition to the officially printed rules, golfers also abide by a set of guidelines called golf etiquette. Etiquette guidelines cover matters such as safety, fairness, pace of play, and a player's obligation to contribute to the care of the course. Though there are no penalties for breach of etiquette rules, players generally follow the rules of golf etiquette in an effort to improve everyone's playing experience.
Golf is not a sport to be scared of, it is a game to be tried and at any time of your life, many have failed, are you the person that this game is right for?