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The Golf Course

The Golf Course

Golf courses have no regulation length or shape, but most consist of 18 holes numbered 1 to 18. Playing all 18 holes makes up a round of golf. Some courses have only nine holes. Each hole is played twice for a round.

An 18-hole course averages about 140 acres (57 hectares). Each hole includes a tee, a fairway, a green, and often one or more hazards. See diagram, above, for the layout of a typical golf course. Courses for men generally range from about 6,500 to more than 7,000 yards (5,900 to 6,400 meters) in length. This distance is the total length from the tees to all 18 holes. Courses are shortened for women by positioning the ladies' tee closer to the hole.

A golf course contains a mixture of par 3, par 4, and par 5 holes. A player shoots par by hitting the ball from the tee into the hole in a certain number of strokes, usually 3, 4, or 5. A typical par 3 hole measures up to 250 yards (229 meters), a par 4 from 251 to 470 yards (230 to 430 meters), and a par 5 measures at least 471 yards (431 meters).

Most courses are laid out in a loop that brings the golfer back to a point near the first tee at the end of each nine holes. The holes are arranged so that players are relatively safe from balls hit by players on another hole. Golfers shout the traditional warning "Fore!" to alert other golfers that a shot is about to be hit or that a ball has been hit in their direction.

The Tee

Each golf hole begins at the tee, a small flat area from which the golfer takes the first stroke, or shot. This stroke is sometimes called a drive. Before hitting the ball, the golfer places it on a wooden or plastic peg that is also called a tee. The peg may only be used on the tee. After the tee shot, the golfer must hit the ball as it lies on the course.

The Fairway

The fairway is a stretch of closely mowed grass that extends from the tee to the green. The fairway may be a straight path to the green or it may be laid out at an angle, called a dogleg. The fairway is designed to give the golfer the clearest route to the green. Golfers who hit their ball outside the fairway land in the rough. This area borders each side of the fairway. It has higher grass and may include bushes and trees.

The Green

The green is an area at the end of the fairway. The green is covered with special grass that is mowed very closely. It contains a hole 4 1/4 inches (10.8 centimeters) in diameter and at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) in depth. A movable marker called the flagstick or pin is placed in the hole to show its location.

Play on the hole is completed when the golfer hits the ball into the hole. The number of strokes the player takes to hit the ball into the hole becomes the player's score for that hole. The player normally takes progressively shorter shots from the tee to the green. Once on the green, the golfer putts (rolls) the ball into the hole with a club called the putter. The surface of the green is usually gently sloped, and the golfer should allow for the slope when putting.


Hazards are obstacles placed throughout the course to make play more difficult. Golfers try to avoid them. Hazards include bunkers and water hazards. Bunkers are depressions in the ground. If they contain sand they are called sand traps. Water hazards include ponds and streams. If the ball lands in a water hazard, the golfer may hit it out if the ball is playable. Otherwise, the golfer lifts it out by hand or plays another ball, adding an extra stroke to the score as a penalty.

© 2004 The World Book Inc. All rights reserved.

westchester county golf course, golf course reviews

Golf 101 for Beginners

Swinging the golf club and hitting the ball is the first step, what happens next is up to you. How do you improve your golf game? Find out how from expert golfers and golf trainers with these articles on golf tips and golf lessons for beginners.

Know the rules of golf, its concepts and history. Visit different golf courses and get to know famous golf players in golf history. Explore WestchesterCountyGolf.com for the information you need on everything golf.

golf for beginners article

How Do You Play Golf: The Basic Rules

Golf is played by hitting a ball using a club on an area called "teeing ground." Once the ball is hit, it usually travels fairways across and onto a next prepared area. A hole could be found in this area that is called a "putting green."


golf for beginners article, golf course introduction

The Golf Course

Golf courses have no regulation length or shape, but most consist of 18 holes numbered 1 to 18. Playing all 18 holes makes up a round of golf. Some courses have only nine holes. Each hole is played twice for a round.


golf for beginners article, golf equipment introduction
Golf Equipment: An Introduction

A golfer's main equipment consists of the ball and a set of clubs. Each club is designed to play a particular type of stroke or to hit the ball a certain distance.


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