Intro to Sports Part 3: Golf

Scoring

Golf is considered unusual in the aspect that the goal is to hit the least amount of shots possible. Each hole has a designated “par,” the amount of shots it should take to get the ball in the hole. Depending on the par for each hole, it may be longer or shorter in distance. For example, a par 5 would be longer than a par 3 because it takes more shots to reach the hole.

When a player gets the ball in the hole one shot before par, then it is considered a birdie. For example, taking 3 shots on a par 4 would be a birdie. An eagle is 2 shots less than par and is highly unlikely.

Bogey is the term used for when it takes one more shot than par to make it in the hole. As more shots are taken over par, the term become reused. Two shots over par is a double bogey, three shots is a triple bogey, and so on.

If the course is listed as a par 72 then it should only take 72 total shots in the round to finish, however, that is highly unlikely for amateur golfers. For example, if a golfer takes 95 shots over the course of a round, they finished 23 over par or +23.

Golf Course

Unlike most other sports, golf courses are never identical and use many variations of size, length, landscape, and difficulty. Standard courses are typically between par 70 to 73, and between 5800 and 7200 yards long depending on the teeing ground. Over an 18 hole course there is a combination of par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s, with the most common hole being a par 4.

The one constant in all golf courses is the variations of grass. In the middle of each hole, there is a tightly mowed area that is considered the fairway. On every hole except par 3’s, the goal is to hit it on the fairway during the first shot (tee shot).

The longer grass lining the sides of the fairway is called “rough”. The rough is an undesirable place to be because it decreases distance and control.

The finely mowed area with the flagstick is called the “green”. The grass on the green is mowed as short as possible, and the only club allowed is the putter.

Around the greens are small craters filled with sand. These are called “bunkers” or “sand traps”, and are difficult to escape from.

Duration

Golf is often criticized for the duration of a round. A typical 18 hole course should take between 4 to 004.5 hours to finish, but it depends on multiple variables. On the weekends the course is usually more crowded, so the round will take longer than usual. Watching professionals on television can give a false representation of the duration of a round because they take a significantly larger amount of time between shots.

Clubs

Every person is permitted to have 14 clubs on the course at one time, and each one has a different purpose. Golf clubs are typically divided into these three categories: Woods, Irons, and wedges. As club lofts increase, the ball will travel higher and shorter. Depending on the brand and model of each club, lofts may vary.

Woods:

  • Driver – The club that can be hit the furthest, but is also the most inaccurate. It has a significantly larger clubhead than other clubs in the bag and is most typically used of the tee during the first shot of each hole. (8°-12°)
  • 3 Wood – An alternative to the driver off the tee, but also used in the fairway on longer shots. Although some distance is forfeited, it allows a greater control of where the ball will go. (13°-16°)
  • 5 Wood – Acts similarly to the 3 wood, but launches higher and does not travel as far. It goes the same length as 3 iron, but launches higher and lands softer. (17°-21°)

Irons:

A typical golfer carries between 5 to 7 irons and they progressively get weaker in loft and shorter in distance. They all have the same general head shape and are typically used to hit the green on the second or third shot.

  • 4 Iron – (22°- 25°)
  • 5 Iron – (26°- 29°)
  • 6 Iron – (30°- 33°)
  • 7 Iron – (34°- 37°)
  • 8 Iron – (38°- 41°)
  • 9 Iron – (42°- 45°)

Wedges:

Wedges vary from 46° to 64° and are used for around the greens or when there is a short distance to the hole. Depending on the degrees of other clubs and player preference, there can be anywhere from two to three wedges in a golf bag.

  • Pitching Wedge – (46°- 49°)
  • Gap Wedge – (50°- 53°)
  • Sand Wedge – Used for shots in bunkers or short shots around the green (54°- 57°)
  • Lob Wedge – Used for shots around the green the need to launch high and land softly (58°- 64°)

Common Terms

Shank – When a player hits the ball and it goes way out of target and a fraction of the desired distance

Dogleg – A hole on the course that turns at a 30° to 45° angle around the middle of the fairway

Front Nine – The first nine holes of a golf course

Back Nine – Last nine holes of the golf course

The Turn – A term used for the short amount of time spent between the front nine and back nine

Chip – A short shot that stays close to the ground around the green

Fringe – Small area of grass around the green that is shorter than fairway but longer than green

Fade – When the ball curves slightly to the right during the shot

Slice – When the ball curves sharply to the right during the shot

Draw – When the ball curves slightly to the left during the shot

Hook – When the ball curves sharply to the left during the shot