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All About GOLF

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Order of play Relief procedures
Etiquette Deciding a winner
Handicap Stableford
The golf course Equipment
During play Glossary


History of the game

Objective: The players will play the ball in a series of strokes, by hitting it around the course. There will be a set number of holes. The ball must be hit into the hole in as few strokes as possible. The object of golf is to get a low score, not a high score!

There are two main types of play. There are sub-divisions within these, but these are the two main types of play.


The game is decided by who has won the most holes. At the end of each hole, the player with the lowest number of strokes is the winner.

If both players have the same score, the hole is said to be halved. This is like a draw. The score is calculated by the difference between the players.

For example, if one player has won four holes, lost two, and halved one, then that player would be 2-up with eleven to play (if the game was being played over eighteen holes).


The total number of strokes decides the game. The player with the lowest number of strokes is the winner.

Holes cannot be conceded and gimmies are not allowed. A gimmie is when the ball is so close to the hole that it would probably not be missed, and the opponent(s) allow it to count as 'in'.

A stroke play competition may also be called a 'medal round'.


Order of play

To play first is known as 'the honour'. The honour to play first is decided before the match.

In match-play, after the first hole, the honour goes to the player who won the last hole. If the previous hole was halved, the player who had the honour before keeps it for the next hole.

In stroke-play, the player with the lowest score at each hole plays first at the next hole. Players then follow in order of scoring total.

For either type of golf, once the players have all started the hole, the player whose ball is furthest from the hole will play first.

In match-play, playing the ball out of turn may cause the ball to be abandoned and replayed from the same position, when it is that players turn. A stroke of one would be added to that players' score.

In stroke-play, there is no penalty for playing the ball out of turn, and the ball is played from where it lies (from wherever it stopped after being hit, even if it was hit out of turn).


- The player who has the honour of playing first should be allowed to tee their ball before any other player.

- No player of caddie should talk or stand near a player when that player is about to play, or stand behind a hole when they are putting.

- Play should be prompt and without undue delay.

- Player waiting to play the hole should be invited to 'play through' if the current players are doing something time-consuming like looking for a lost ball.

- When a hole has been completed, players should leave the green, and replace the flagstick. This relates to the delay rule.

- Do not play a shot if there are players in front who might get hit. 'Fore' can be shouted to warn people if necessary, although the player should wait until the area is clear.

- Two-ball matches take priority over three and four-ball matches. People playing alone do not have any priority.

- Do not take trolleys onto the green or tee area.

- Replace and smooth down any pieces of turf (divots) disturbed during play.

- Before leaving a bunker, smooth down the sand for holes and footprints.

- Repair any damage to the green, like shoe spikes and the end of the flagstick being pressed into the ground. For the same reason, players should not lean on the clubs while on the green.

- Do not flick the ball out of the hole with a club.


To balance out the scores, players are given a handicap. The standard rating (par) for the course is decided. This is called the scratch score.

The handicap is based on the number of strokes by which the player goes above the scratch score. Often, a player will play three strokes, with a club member marking the score against the par for the course.

The maximum handicap for men is 28. For women it is 36. Handicap can go up and down. Usually, a club will have a handicap committee to deal with this. Once a player has a handicap, they may compete in medal competitions.

The golf course

Each hole on the course is different, but they all consist of three separate areas. The teeing ground, the fairway, and the green (sometimes called the putting green).

Teeing ground

This is normally a rectangular area two club lengths deep, and is often slightly raised above the level of the rest of the course. It is only from this area that the first shot of the hole is played from.

There are two tee-markers either side of the teeing ground. The ball must be hit from between these markers, although the player does not have to stand between them.

If a shot is played from outside the teeing ground in match play, the opponent may ask the offending player to play the shot again, albeit without penalty.

For stroke play, there is a penalty of two strokes, followed by the correct teeing off from between the markers.


The fairway is the area of cut grass in between the teeing area and the green. It is not cut as short as the green, but is not left to grow as long as the rough, the areas of long grass which are more difficult to play in.

On the fairway, divots must replaced. The fairway does include hazards, but does include the mown areas, as well as the rough surrounding it.

The green

What players can do on the green:

- Lift, mark and clean the ball.

- Repair an old hole plug or pitch mark. Any other damage may not be repaired if it is likely to assist the player.

- Touch the line of a putt (the line that the player wants the ball to follow), if:

- - the putter-head is placed in front of the ball before making the shot. Pressing down on the green is not acceptable.

- - distance is being measured from the ball to the hole.

- - when placing a ball marker in front of the ball (most golfers place it behind).

- - when removing a movable obstruction or loose impediment.

What players cannot do on the green:

- Test the surface by rolling a ball or scraping the surface.

- Stand astride or on the line of a putt.

- Play their ball while another ball is in motion.

- Brush aside frost or dew. These are not loose impediments. Loose soil and sand on the green are loose impediments, and can be moved Off the green they are not, and are not moved.

- Wait for the ball to drop into the hole if it is on the edge. Players are allowed reasonable time to get to the ball, and a further 10 seconds for it to go in.

These rules apply to prevent players from giving themselves an advantage by altering the green in any way prior to playing their shot.

The flagstick

Off the green, players have three options.

They can have the flagstick left in (no penalty if the ball strikes it), have it taken out, or have it attended (for match play, striking the flagstick with the ball would lose that player the hole. For stroke play, there two stroke penalty if the ball strikes the flagstick).

On the green, players have two options.

The flagstick can be attended, or it can be taken out. If the ball strikes the flagstick, attended or not, for match play this would cause that player to lose the hole, for stroke play it would incur a two stroke penalty.

Of course, if the flagstick is partly, or completely obscured by the difference in ground heights, players are entitled to ask for the flagstick to be held up so that they can see it. The person holding it up can stay there while the stroke is played.


Hazards take the form of bunkers (sand traps), areas of water, and dry ditches.

The hole

The hole is on the green, and is 11.43 centimetres (4 and a half inches) in diameter, and at least 10.16 centimetres (4 inches) deep.

The flagstick

The flagstick is a removable pole, with a flag. The stick usually has wide black and white stripes, and the flag is often coloured yellow for holes 1-9, and red for holes 10-18.

During play

Players may only use up to 14 clubs in a match. If a club is broken accidentally, it can be replaced. If a player breaks their own club deliberately, it may not be replaced.

It does not matter if there is one extra club, or ten, the penalties remain the same. Of course, players can play with less than fourteen clubs if they wish, and can add clubs at any time in the match, as long as they do not delay the game.

- Clubs in match play
If a player is found to have more then fourteen clubs, one hole is taken off the score for every hole played with the extra club(s), up to a maximum of two holes. After three or four holes, still only two holes are deducted from the score.

- Clubs in stroke play
For each hole played with extra clubs, the offending player will be penalized two strokes, up to a maximum of four strokes.

Identifying the ball
A ball is considered unfit for play when it is visibly cut, cracked, or otherwise damaged. If a player wishes to inspect their ball, they must announce to the opponent(s) that they are doing so.

If the ball breaks as it is hit, the shot can be retaken, and there is no penalty.

It is also a good idea to mark the balls in some way so that there is no confusion about which ball belong to which player. They will often have numbers on them, but some players mark the ball, or put their signature on it.

- Balls in match play
Not notifying the opponent for them to verify you checking the ball causes the offending player to lose the hole.

- Balls in stroke play
Not notifying the opponent for them to verify you checking the ball causes the offending player to have one stroke added to their score.

Playing the ball

Searching for the ball
When searching for the ball, players may touch and brush past bushes, trees, grass, and so on, as long as they do not damage the course, and do not alter the area of their play. Improving the lie of the ball or clearing a space to play is not allowed.

If the ball is in a bunker (like a large sand pit), the player can brush aside as much sand as they need to see the ball, but no more than is necessary. There is no penalty for playing the wrong ball in a hazard.

If a player needs to pick the ball up to see whose it is, it must be replaced in exactly the same position. Before the ball is picked up, the other player(s) must be informed, and the position must be marked in some way so it can be put back correctly.

Where the ball can be played from
The ball must be played as it lies (played from wherever it lands), unless otherwise stated in the Rules. Players may not improve:

- the lie of the ball (by moving it in any way)

- the area of the intended swing (cannot move tree branches and so on)

- the line of play (cannot move bushes and so on out of the way)

- any area where the player is about to drop the ball (after picking it up) by moving, bending, or breaking anything growing or fixed, or by removing or pressing down on sand, loose soil, replaced divots, or other irregularities of surface.

Building a stance is not allowed. This means that a player can place their feet firmly. What they cannot do is push bushes and trees aside, or stand on branches to stop them interfering with the swing.

When the ball is lying in or touching a hazard, the player may not test the hazard or ground the club (place the club on the ground).

When in a bunker, the clubhead must be kept above the sand. It cannot touch the sand on the backswing. In a water hazard, the clubhead cannot touch the water until the stroke is being made (it can only touch the water when the swing is in progress).

Loose impediments, such as twigs and leaves, cannot be moved if they are touching the hazard.

A player can make a swing towards the ball, but if the swing is stopped before the club makes contact with the ball, it does not count as a stroke.

Similarly, if the ball falls off the tee before it is hit, it does not count as long as the player stops the swing.

The ball should be hit cleanly, rather than pushed or nudged.

Players are not allowed any physical assistance, or to be protected from the weather (except in certain cases, see below) while playing the ball.

For example, a player may be sheltered with an umbrella while planning the shot, but when the stroke is played, the umbrella is taken away.

There is also a clause that prevents players from using 'artificial devices or unusual equipment'. This includes distance measures, a compass, a golf ball warmer (to increase speed in the air), and so on.

Items which are allowed include gloves, club covers, and so on.

The ball should not be struck more than once. This is called a double hit. It counts as two strokes, one for each hit.

Moving balls
The ball should not be played when it is moving. If this happens, it incurs a two stroke penalty (for either match or stroke play). There are some exceptions.

If the ball falls off the tee, and the player does not stop the swing, and hits the ball while it is moving, there is a one stroke penalty.

It is allowed to hit a ball that is moving in water.

Wrong balls
A wrong ball is not always a ball that does not belong to you. It can be your own ball.

A wrong ball is any ball that is not the ball in play, or a provisional ball.

A ball cannot be changed during a hole unless the Rules specify otherwise. In match play, the offending player gets a one hole penalty, although in a fourball match, that player's partner would not be affected.

In stroke play, there is a two stroke penalty, and the offending player can play no further shots with that ball. The offending player goes back to the spot where the wrong ball was played from, and they play from there with the correct ball. If not, they are disqualified.

If the ball is moved after being still
This applies if the ball comes to a stop after being hit, and is then moved.

If the ball is moved by an outside agency, such as an animal or person not connected with the game, there is no penalty.

If the ball is taken away by an outside agency, it is replaced where it was. If the ball is just moved, it is put back where it was, and play continues.

If it is moved by a player, partner, caddie, or a piece of equipment, there is a one stroke penalty, unless the player who would receive the penalty was:

- Measuring to see which ball is closest to the hole (and therefore who plays next)

- Looking for a covered ball in a hazard, or for a ball in casual water (rainwater and so on), or ground under repair.

- Repairing a hole plug or pitch mark.

- Removing a loose impediment (twig, leaf, and so on) when on the green. If not on the green, and a player moves a loose impediment within one club length of the ball, and the ball moves, there is a one stroke penalty.

- Removing a movable obstruction.

If the ball is moved by an opponent, caddie, or equipment, in the process of searching for it, there is no penalty. These rules apply for both match play and stroke play.

If a ball which is moving is stopped or deflected
If the ball is in motion and it is stopped or sent in a different angle by an outside agency, this is categorised as 'rub of the green', and no penalty is incurred. However, the ball must then be played from where it lies.

When not on the green and the ball is stopped on or in a outside agency, (for example, if it lands on the roof of a golf buggy) a substitute ball can be dropped on a point as near as possible to where the other ball was lost. There is no penalty for this.

When on the green, if the ball is moving and is taken away (for example by a rabbit or a dog), a replacement can be placed on the spot where the ball was taken away from (in this case, where the animal picked it up).

If a moving ball is stopped or deflected by the player who played it, the partner of the player who played it, a caddie of that player, or equipment belonging to that player, there is a loss of the hole in match play, or a two stroke penalty in stroke play, then play the ball as it lies.

The exception is when dropping the ball. If it hits the player's foot, the ball is simply dropped again. There is no penalty for that.

If the ball is stopped or deflected by an opponent, the opponent's caddie, or the opponent's equipment, there is no penalty, and the non-offending player has the choice of playing the ball as it lies, or cancelling the stroke, and playing it again.

The rules relating to stopped or deflected ball by a fellow competitor, caddie, or equipment in stroke play are seen as an outside agency, so it counts as rub of the green.

If a player's ball hits another still ball, there is no penalty, except when both balls are on the green before the stroke was played. If this happens, the offending player is penalized two strokes.

The players
It is the responsibility of the player to declare their correct handicap. If the player does not declare the correct handicap, they are disqualified.

Players may also be disqualified for starting a match late. Sometimes a five minute period is allowed, with a one hole penalty for match play, and a two stroke penalty for stroke play.

If the score that the player marks on their scorecard is less than the actual score they made, they are disqualified. If the score is higher, that score is accepted, although in some cases, the committee will keep score.

If a player keeps holding up play, there is likely to be a one hole penalty in match play, or a two stroke penalty in stroke play. Continuing to hold up play may result in disqualification.

Play continues regardless of weather, unless the course becomes unplayable, (for example, waterlogged) except in cases such as lightning, where players may run for cover if they feel they are in danger. Similar rules for stopping play apply for illness, and discussing a disputed point decision with the committee.

For match play, practice on the same day of competition is allowed.

For stroke play, no practice on the day of a match is allowed. If there is a match spread over more than one day, like a 36-hole competition, no practice is allowed between rounds. The penalty is disqualification.

However, golfers may practice on or near the green of the last hole played, as long as there are no other players waiting to play. This could be penalized as delay.

A player is not allowed to ask anyone other than a playing partner or a caddie advice, including the distance between the ball and the green.

They cannot ask an opponent what club they have used, but looking into an opponent's bag is allowed. If a player covers their bag with a towel or something like that, then the bag stays private.

Specific advice to a partner or an opponent can result in a one hole penalty for match play, or a two stroke penalty is stroke play. General advice is more likely to be acceptable. The person receiving the advice is not penalized.

Line of play
The line of play is the line from the ball to the hole, but not beyond the hole. When a player is not on the green, anyone can indicate the line of play to them, but they must move before the stroke is played.

If the player is below the level of the green and cannot see the flagstick, someone can hold the flag above the hole to indicate where the ball has to go. That person can stay there during and after the shot has been played.

On the green, a line can be pointed out to a player, as long as the putting surface is not touched. Again, rules for advice apply here.

Strokes taken
All player in a match must be aware of all strokes taken, and if there are any penalties. A player who receives a penalty must inform their opponent(s).

Relief procedures

Lifting, dropping and placing the ball

The position of the ball must always be marked before it is picked up. If the marker or the ball is moved when the ball is lifted there is no penalty. If the marker or ball moves as a result of any other action, there is a one stroke penalty.

The marker can be a coin or other small object. It can be placed to the side of or in front of the ball, but not behind it.


The golfer stands upright, holding the ball at arms length, and drops the ball. The person can face in any direction. If the ball is dropped incorrectly, it can be re-dropped without penalty.

The drop is incorrect if the ball:

- Hits the player, the player's partner, or that player's caddie.

- Rolls into a hazard.

- Rolls out of a hazard.

- Rolls onto a putting green.

- Rolls out of bounds.

- Rolls to a position where there is interference from the condition that caused the drop to be taken.

- Rolls and comes to rest (stops) more than two club lengths from where the ball first struck the ground.

- Rolls and comes to rest nearer the hole.

If the ball is re-dropped twice, and each time the ball rolls nearer to the hole, the ball is placed on the spot where it first hit the ground when it was dropped the second time.

The ball may roll up to two club lengths away from the point where it first hit the ground. So if a player drops the ball from two club lengths away, it can roll another two club lengths, making a distance of four club lengths.

Placing and replacing the ball

- If it is impossible to determine the position where the ball should be replaced, the ball is dropped as close as possible to the spot where it originally lay.

However, the ball is not dropped into a hazard, unless it actually came to rest in the hazard. On the green, the ball is placed rather than dropped.

- If the ball does not remain on its spot when it is replaced, it must be placed on the nearest spot where the ball will not move.

If a ball is dropped or placed in the wrong position

In match play, the rules for playing a ball that have been dropped or placed in the wrong position result in the offending player forfeiting (losing) that hole.

In stroke play, if a stroke is made from the wrong place, the penalty applies for whichever rule has been infringed upon. This is likely to be a one or two stroke penalty.

If a serious breach has taken place, if a player would gain an significant advantage by dropping or placing the ball in the wrong place, the offending player can replay the shot with a second ball, as long as they have not started the next hole.

The committee, if there is one, will make the appropriate ruling regarding the scorecard. Failure to do this results in disqualification.

Cleaning the ball
The ball can be cleaned once it comes to rest on the putting green, although it must be marked for identification for when it is put back.

On other parts of the course, the ball can be cleaned when it is lifted, except when the player is:

- Deciding if the ball is damaged.

- Identifying the ball. In this case it can only be cleaned just enough to identify it.

- Lifting because the ball assists or interferes with play.

If the cleaning rules are broken, there is a penalty of loss of hole for match play, or a one stroke penalty for stroke play.

Ball assisting or interfering with play
A ball can be marked and lifted if there is reason to believe that:

- It could interfere with a shot that is about to be played.

- Because of where it is, it could help the opponent or fellow competitor.

The ball cannot be lifted while another ball is in motion.

If there is a ball nearby which is distracting the player (by catching the player's eye), mental interference can be claimed and the ball will be marked and lifted.

Loose impediments
A loose impediment is an object that is not fixed or growing, and are not solidly embedded or stuck to the ball. Except in a hazard, any loose impediment may be moved without penalty.

Loose soil on the fairway cannot be moved, but loose soil on the green can be moved. Compacted soil can be moved from anywhere on the course, as can divots, although divots cannot be moved after being replaced.

Players can claim relief from a movable obstruction, like a drink can, or a packet. If the ball does not touch or lie on the obstruction, the obstruction can be removed. If the ball is moved as the obstruction is being removed, it can be replaced without penalty.

When on the green, the ball is placed. Elsewhere on the course, it is dropped as near as possible to the spot where the obstruction lay.

If the ball lies close to an immovable obstruction, or so close that it interferes with the stance or swing, the player can claim relief.

The player must find the nearest point where there is no interference. There is an allowance of one club lengths relief from that point, but must not go any closer to the hole.

If the ball lies in or touches a water hazard, relief from an immovable obstruction cannot be claimed. On the line of play, there is also no claim for relief, except on the green.

If it seems that the ball has been lost in or on an immovable obstruction, another ball can be substituted, and dropped within one club length of the point where there is no interference, but again finishing no closer to the hole.

This is not allowed if the immovable obstruction lies in any kind of water hazard.

Out of bounds is defined by objects like fences, walls, and so on. Although they are artificial, relief cannot be claimed from them, or from any immovable obstruction that lies out of bounds.

Ground conditions
A player can claim relief if their ball lies in casual water or ground under repair, or if they have to stand in either to play their shot. If there is such an interference, the ball can be played, or relief can be claimed.

The nearest point away from the obstruction is decided, and the ball can be dropped within in one club length, as long as it does not go any closer to the hole. The ball can be cleaned here if necessary.

On the putting green, the ball is not dropped, it is placed. If the ball lands in a waterlogged bunker and there is no dry sand to drop the ball on, the player has a choice. Play a splash shot from a shallow point of the water, or take a one stroke penalty, and leave the bunker.

If a ball is declared lost in either casual water or ground repair, there must be little or no doubt. If this is the case, the player can claim relief without penalty.

The point where the ball went into the casual water or ground under repair must be determined, then the ball is played from the area where there will be no interference. The ball is dropped within one club length of that point, and the ball must not roll closer to the hole.

If the ball goes back to the position where it is interfered with, it must be re-dropped.

If the ball is embedded or plugged, which means if it goes into its own pitch mark on a closely mown area, it can be lifted, cleaned, and dropped as near as possible to the point where it originally lay, as long as it occurs through the green.

Some clubs extend relief to plugged balls in the rough as well as closely mown areas in the winter months. The term 'closely mown area' refers to grass mown to fairway height or less.

A ball must not be played onto the wrong putting green. This also includes a practice green.

If a ball comes to rest on any green other than that of the hole being played, it must be dropped at the nearest point of relief.

Water hazards, and lateral water hazards
Hazards are colour coded to avoid confusion. Yellow for water, red for lateral water.

A lateral hazard is so called because it runs parallel to the fairway.

Relief procedures differ according to what type of hazard the ball has gone into. If it has gone into a water hazard, the player has three options:

- The ball can be played where it lies.

- Imagine a line running from the hole to the point where the ball went into the hazard, then drop a ball on the extension of that line. This has a penalty of one stroke.

- Stroke-and-distance rule. The player goes back to the spot where the first stroke was played from, and plays a shot from there. One stroke is added.

If the ball goes into a lateral water hazard, the three options above all apply, and so do these two options:

- Drop a ball outside the hazard within two club lengths of the point where the ball went into the hazard. This has a penalty of one stroke.

- Identify a point on the opposite side of the hazard, but no closer to the hole, and drop the ball, again within two club lengths of that point. This also has a penalty of one stroke.

Ball out of bounds, lost or provisional ball

When is a ball lost?

- It is not found after five minutes of searching.

- Another ball has been put into play in accordance with another rule.

- A provisional ball has been played level with or beyond the point where the original ball is likely to be.

If the search lasts for more than five minutes, and the original ball is subsequently played, the rules for playing the wrong ball apply.

The penalty for a lost ball is stroke-and-distance. The player goes back to the spot where the first stroke was played from, and plays a shot from there. One stroke is added.

Out of bounds

If any ball is hit out of bounds, even by a small distance, the stroke-and-distance rule applies.

Provisional ball

If a player considers their original ball to be lost or out of bounds, they can play a provisional ball to save time.

The playing partner or opponent must be informed. Play can continue with the provisional ball until the players reach the point where the original ball is likely to be.

If a shot is played with the provisional ball beyond this point, then it becomes the ball in play. See When is a ball lost?, above. This also happens if the playing partner or opponent is not informed, the provisional ball immediately becomes the ball in play, whether the player are at the point where the original ball went or not.

If the original ball is found, as long as it is not out of bounds, or in a water hazard, it must be played instead of the provisional ball.

Ball unplayable
When this happens, the term unplayable lie is used. This applies for any position on the golf course, except when the ball is in or touching a water hazard.

It is the player whose ball it is who decides whether the ball is unplayable. The player can either attempt to play the ball, or take a penalty drop, an automatic one stroke penalty in return for continuing play.

These are the options that a player has:

- An imaginary straight line extending back from where the ball and the hole are. The ball can be dropped at any point along this line, as long as it is not closer to the hole. The line can extend as far back as the player wishes.

- Drop the ball within two club lengths of where the ball lies, but no closer to the hole.

- Play the ball as near as possible from the spot where the original ball was last played. This may mean going back to the tee.

The ball cannot be declared unplayable in a water hazard. It can be declared unplayable in a bunker, although the procedures vary slightly. The three options above still apply, but for the first and second options, the ball must be dropped in the bunker.

If the ball is dropped from an unplayable lie and it rolls into another unplayable lie, there is no second chance. The dropped ball is the ball in play, so it must either be played or there would have to be another penalty drop, meaning another one stroke penalty.

Deciding a winner

If all rounds have been completed in a major tournament, and there is still not a clear winner, extra holes will be played. The number will depend on the rules of the competition.

In match play it will be on a sudden-death basis. The first person to win a hole will be deemed the winner.

In stroke play, it may be over eighteen or more holes. If extra holes are played, they do not always start again from the first tee. It can be from any tee as agreed. Sometimes a 'play off' is used to settle the match instead. A possible way of doing this could be the lowest score over the first nine holes.


A Stableford is a type of competition named after its inventor, Dr. Frank Stableford. Points are awarded according to how many strokes under or over par are scored. The scoring is as follows:

Par +2 or more = 0 points
Par +1 = 1 points
Par = 2 points
Par -1 = 3 points
Par -2 = 4 points
Par -3 = 5 points
The number of points scored at each hole is added together to produce an aggregate score.


There are three basic types of club. Woods, irons, and putters. The angle of the face and the length of the shaft varies depending on the type of shot the club is designed for. The steeper the angle of the face, the higher the trajectory of the shot. This angle is known as the 'loft' of the club.

A normal set consists of four woods for driving off the tee of playing long shots off the fairway. The wood has a head of wood, plastic, or light metal that is fairly wide from front to back. These clubs are numbered from 1 to 5. 1 wood, 2 wood, and so on.

The irons make up the majority of a set of clubs, and are used mainly on the fairway. An iron has a head that is relatively narrow, and is usually made of steel.

The shaft is shorter for irons than it is for woods. Irons are numbered from 1 to 9. The lower numbered clubs have the least amount of loft, and are used for long, low shots. The higher numbered clubs have shorter shafts than the lower numbered clubs, and are used for short, high shots. 1 iron, 2 iron, and so on.

There are two more irons. The putting or pitching wedge, and the sand wedge or sand iron. The first is for playing high delicate shots onto the green, the second is for playing out of bunkers.

The last club is the putter. This club is used only on the (putting) green. There are different shapes and sizes available, and it is a matter of personal preference which type a player uses. The putter is designed for short strokes.

As there are sixteen clubs described above, the golfer has to select their own optimum fourteen to take onto the course. Beginning golfers may wish to play with a half set, which will contain seven or eight clubs.

Clubs have three sections, the handle (also known as the grip), the shaft, and the head. The shaft is the part between the handle and the head. The head is the curved part at the end which makes contact with the ball.

The club head is divided into three sections, the toe, the face, and the heel. The face is the flat part that makes contact with the ball. The heel is the point where the head joins the shaft, and the toe is the curved part at the outer edge of the head.

The ball
The ball is round, and weighs no more than 45.93 grammes (1.62 ounces), and is 4.26 centimetres (1.68 inches) in diameter. It is dimpled all over, and is usually white.

The tee
The tee is a small plastic (or sometimes wooden) point, with a little cup on the top to hold the ball. The tee is pressed into the ground, and the ball is placed on top of it to be played. Obviously, the tee is only used on the teeing ground. The ball is simply played from the ground when on the course. Tees are about 5 centimetres (2 inches) long, and can be any colour.

Many clubs have their own dress code. The most usual items required are shoes, with spiked soles. The spikes can be removed from some makes of golf shoe for when the players go back indoors.

Some players wear gloves to aid grip and reduce the friction when swinging the club. Waterproof clothing and an umbrella are also useful items to have, depending on where in the world you are playing!

Player will often have bags to carry all their equipment in, and also a ball marker, a little plastic disc, and a pitch mark repairer, a plastic pad used to press the turf back into place.


Ace - another term for a hole-in-one, mainly an American term.

Address - a player takes an address when they step behind the ball, and ground the club head, ready to strike. This is not allowed in sand or water.

Albatross - completing a hole three under par

Approach shot - any shot towards the green, from anywhere except the tee

Apron - the area around the green. It is cut shorter than the fairway, but not as short as the green.

Back door putt - a putt that rolls behind the hole and goes in

Back nine - the last nine holes, 10-18. Also known as the second nine, or the inward half.

Backswing - when the club is swung backwards, before it is swung down and forward to hit the ball.

Best ball - a match where one player competes against two or more others. The score of the one player is compared to the best score from the other players. Suitable for both match and stroke play.

Better ball - in a match with four players, the score of the lowest scoring player on each team counts.

Birdie - completing a hole one under par

Bogey - completing a hole one over par. A par 3 played in four shots would be known as a 'bogey 4'. In Britain, the definition can also mean the number of strokes a player should take to complete the hole or the round.

Caddie / Caddy - the person who carries a golfer's clubs and generally assists the golfer.

Carry - the carry is the term used to describe the distance a golf ball travels from the moment it is hit, to where it touches the ground.

Chip - a chip shot is played as an approach shot to the green

Closed stance - moving the back foot forward a bit when addressing the ball.

Cut - another word for slice, and also where the field in large competitions is reduced, often at the halfway mark.

Divot - a piece of turf taken out of the ground by the club head as the ball is hit.

Dogleg - any hole that has the green at an angle from the fairway, or hidden from the tee is a dogleg.

Dormie - in match play, if a player cannot lose, they are 'dormie'. If they are ahead by one hole, and there is only one hole left, they are said to be 'dormie 1'.

Double bogey - completing a hole two over par

Double eagle - American term for albatross

Draw - a controlled shot where the ball travels right before going left to land.

Driver - the most powerful club in the bag, like a 1 wood.

Eagle - completing the hole in two strokes under par.

Fade - opposite of 'draw'. A controlled shot where the ball travels left before going right to land.

Follow-through - the completion of the swing after the ball has been hit.

Fore - a call used to warn other golfers that a ball is heading their way.

Four ball - a match involving four players. This can be either match or stroke play, and can be 'better ball' as above, or the aggregate scores of each pair can count.

Front nine - the first nine holes of a course. 1-9. Also known as the first nine or the outward nine.

Gimmie / Gimme - for match play, if the ball is so close to the hole that it is almost impossible to miss, it can be 'given' by the opposing player or team.

Green fee - a charge for municipal or private clubs for non-members.

Grip - as well as the handle of the club, also how the player holds it.

Holing out - putting the ball into the hole.

Hole-in-one - getting the ball in the hole from the tee.

Hook - a shot that goes left of target for a right-handed golfer, right of target for a left-handed golfer.

Lie - where the ball comes to rest is its lie.

Lip - the edge of the hole.

Mulligan - second attempt at the same shot.

Nap - the direction the grass has been cut in. A ball hit with the nap of the green will go faster than one hit against it.

Nineteenth hole - a common term for the clubhouse bar.

Open stance - opposite to a closed stance. When a player moves their back foot back further after when addressing the ball.

Par - the par of a hole or course is the number of shots a good golfer should take to complete it. The par of a hole is decided by its length. In Britain, the measurements are: par 3 = 229 metres (251 yards), par 4 = 229-434 metres (251-475 yards), par 5 = 435 metres (476 yards) and over.

Penalty stroke - a stroke added to the score for infringing the rules.

Pin high - if the ball lands on the green next to the flag, but left or right of it, it is said to be pin high.

Pitch - a shot played, often with a wedge, when close to the green

Preferred lie - in the winter months, many clubs allow players to move the ball to a near position where there is less chance to take a divot or damage the fairway.

Putting - hitting the ball on the green with the putter.

Rough - the long grass at the edges of the course.

Round - a round of golf normally has eighteen holes, which are played in numerical order.

Run - the run of the ball is when the ball rolls after hitting the ground.

Score - gross score is the number of strokes taken to complete a hole or course. The net score is achieved by subtracting that player's handicap.

Scratch - a good golfer who does not need a handicap is a scratch golfer.

Semi-rough - the area between the fairway and the rough.

Slice - a ball that travels sharply right by a right-handed player, it would travel left for a left-handed player.

Stroke - swinging the club to hit the ball.

Stroke index - on a scorecard, alongside each hole number is the length and par of the hole. Each hole is graded between 1 and 18 for difficulty, with 1 being the most difficult.

Swing - the smooth arc motion as the club is raised up, and brought down to hit the ball.

Takeaway - the movement as the start of the backswing.

Texas wedge - a shot played off the putting surface with a putter.

Three ball - a match with three players who each use their own ball.

Threesome - a match involving three players, where two play against one. The pair play alternate shots at the same ball.

Topped - a ball is 'topped' if the club strikes it on the top instead of in the centre of the lower half.

Trap / Sandtrap - American term for bunker.

Whiff - when a golfer swings the club to hit the ball, and misses.

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