As the name suggests, a golf course is the field of play for the game of golf. The average golf course is eighteen holes in length, with the first nine holes referred to as a the "front nine" and the second nine holes the "back nine." Most tournaments are played over the entire course, but when played for leisure, players often have the option of playing on either the front or back nine, if they don't wish to play the full course.
Anatomy of a Hole
The average golf hole is made up of the following features:
- Tee Box: The starting point of each hole. This is where the player places the ball on a tee and begins play on the hole with the first shot.
- Fairway: A stretch of short grass that can vary in length up to several hundred yards. When approaching the green, it is ideal to keep the ball on the fairway as much as possible.
- Green: An area of extremely short grass at the end of the fairway. The hole is located somewhere within the green and is marked with a flag to pinpoint its location from a distance.
Hazards are also a part of each hole and come in a variety of forms:
- Sand Trap: Pits of sand placed around the hole, also known as bunkers. There is no stroke penalty for hitting a ball into a sand trap, but hitting out of one can present difficulties.
- Water: Ponds, creeks, and other bodies of water that make up part of the course landscape. Hitting the ball into the water results in a one-stroke penalty.
- Rough: Thick, tall grass that surrounds the fairway and green. There is no stroke penalty for hitting into the rough, but like sand traps, it can be more difficult to hit out of.
- Out-of-Bounds: Area outside of the legal boundaries of the hole. Hitting the ball out of bounds results in a stroke penalty.