Golf is a game in which a golfer uses clubs and a ball and moves the ball with strokes down a hole from a tee ground through the fairway into a cup on the green, taking the fewest strokes over 18 holes in a round.
Rules of the game
Learning to play
Learning how to play the game of golf consists primarily in learning how to make effective strokes with the "full swing" clubs (drivers and irons and wedges) and with the putter. Traditionally and by rule, golf strokes are made while standing beside the ball, and golf is essentially a game of moving the ball "sideways", whether by left-handed or right-handed play. The rules limit the total number of clubs that may be used in a round to 14, and the clubs must each conform to the rules. As a practical matter, almost all golfers choose to play either left-handed or right-handed clubs, but a few golfers occasionally mix left- and right-handed clubs in the same set for a round.
The conventional set of golf clubs includes a driver, a 3-wood, a 5-wood, irons ranging from a 2-iron to a 9-iron, a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, and a putter. Modern variant sets typically replace the 5-wood and 2-iron with a hybrid or rescue club and a lob wedge. Each club in the set is designed to send the ball over successive ranges. The driver typically is used to send the ball 240-260 yards, and many professional players average 280 yards per drive. Each successive club in a set from driver to putter is shorter in length and sends the ball a shorter distance, with the idea that the various distances called for during the round can be played with a appropriate club without much adjustment from its customary range.
Golf courses with 18 holes typically are 6,000 to 7,000 yards in length. A "par" score is set for each course and is usually 72 strokes for the round of 18 holes. Holes may have a "par" score of 3, 4, or 5 (although the rules do not prohibit greater or lesser par scores for holes). Professional golfers often average a few strokes fewer than "par" whereas amateur golfers average as a group around 100 strokes per round. Amateur golfer each may establish a personal "handicap" for competitive purposes that reflects the current level of skill in terms of typical scores. A golfer who typically scores 100 strokes would have a handicap of 28 versus par of 72. A "scratch" golfer has a handicap of zero or perhaps a +2 handicap, representing an average of 2 strokes fewer than par.