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According to Mark Twain, golf is 'a good walk spoiled'. Golf is a rather simple game. The object is to hit a little ball into a little hole in the smallest number of strokes, then repeat the process 17 more times. Of course, that is easier said than done.
Golfers may play individually or in teams. The two basic forms of play are:
In which the object is to win the most holes.
In which the object is to finish with the fewest strokes.
The equipment required to play golf is as follows...
A regulation ball must be a minimum of 1.68 inches in diameter and weigh a maximum of 1.62 ounces. Balls may be of any colour, though white is the most widely available. All balls have exactly 336 dimples to help improve the accuracy and distance of their flight.
Players may carry a total of no more than 14 clubs in a game. There are three distinct types of club including:
Woods are used for long shots. They are numbered from one to nine according to shape. They can be made of wood, plastic or metal.
Irons have relatively narrow heads. They are made of steel or some other type of metal, and are numbered from one to ten. These clubs are used for shorter distances1, and special circumstances2.
Putters are used for shots on the putting green3. The face of the club is flat, so that the ball is not lifted into the air when struck.
Some sort of bag is required to carry the golfer's selection of clubs4. This can be a simple tubular affair, or, as is more often the case, a stylish system of elaborate pouches and pockets, complete with wheels and a pop-up umbrella.
No other equipment is required, although many golfers wear special spiked shoes, gloves and outrageous clothing.
Most golf courses consist of 18 holes, set at varying lengths apart from each other from 100 to 600 yards. Each course contains the following features:
Where play begins. This area is rectangular in shape with markers for where the ball should be positioned.
A closely mown strip, running from the tee to the putting green, along which players try to hit the ball.
The ungroomed areas flanking the fairway, usually mown, but not as closely as the fairway.
As if this game wasn't hard enough, hazards such as sand bunkers or areas of water are placed so as to add to the difficulty of the shot.
The Putting Green
The area surrounding the cup, which is mown extremely short. The greens are often flanked by bunkers or rough to make missing the green on the fly difficult to recover from without added strokes.
A player who completes the hole (in the case of match play) or the course (in the case of stroke play) in the fewest number of strokes is the winner5.
'Par' is the number of strokes the course officials decides are needed in order to complete a given hole. Par is generally calculated on the length of the hole and ranges from par three up to par five.
Scoring one stroke under par.
Scoring two strokes under par.
Getting a 'hole in one'.
Scoring one stroke over par.
Scoring two strokes over par.
Taking three strokes over par is called a triple bogey, and anything more than three strokes over par is called 'having a very bad day'.