Golf

Golf is a club and ball sport in which players use various clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible. Golf, unlike most ball games, cannot and does not utilize a standardized playing area, and coping with the varied terrains encountered on different courses is a key part of the game. The game at the highest level is played on a course with an arranged progression of 18 holes, though recreational courses can be smaller, often 9 holes. Each hole on the course must contain a tee box to start from, and a putting green containing the actual hole or cup (4.25 inches in width). There are other standard forms of terrain in between, such as the fairway, rough (long grass), sand traps, and hazards (water, rocks, fescue) but each hole on a course is unique in its specific layout and arrangement. Golf is played for the lowest number of strokes by an individual, known as stroke play, or the lowest score on the most individual holes in a complete round by an individual or team, known as match play. Stroke play is the most commonly seen format at all levels, but most especially at the elite level.

In addition to the officially printed rules, golfers also abide by a set of guidelines called golf etiquette. Etiquette guidelines cover matters such as safety, fairness, pace of play, and a player’s obligation to contribute to the care of the course. Though there are no penalties for breach of etiquette rules, players generally follow the rules of golf etiquette in an effort to improve everyone’s playing experience.

Penalties

Penalties are incurred in certain situations. They are counted towards a player’s score as if there were extra swing(s) at the ball. Strokes are added for rule infractions or for hitting one’s ball into an unplayable situation. A lost ball or a ball hit out of bounds result in a penalty of one stroke and distance (Rule 27–1). A one-stroke penalty is assessed if a player’s equipment causes the ball to move or the removal of a loose impediment causes the ball to move (Rule 18–2). A one-stroke penalty is assessed if a player’s ball results into a red or yellow staked hazard (Rule 26). If a golfer makes a stroke at the wrong ball (Rule 19–2) or hits a fellow golfer’s ball with a putt (Rule 19–5), the player incurs a two-stroke penalty. Most rule infractions lead to stroke penalties but also can lead to disqualification. Disqualification could be from cheating, signing for a lower score, or from rule infractions that lead to improper play.