The origins of the game of golf are disputed, with historians proposing several different ideas. Some trace it back to the Roman game of ‘Paganica’ and believe that it spread Europe during the Roman conquests in the 1st century BC. Others cite ‘Chuiwan’, a Chinese game played between the 8th and 14th centuries. There is a Ming dynasty scroll depicting a member of the Imperial Court swinging what appears to be a club, at a small ball. Other suggestions include ‘Cambula’ in England, ‘Chambot’ in France or ‘Kolven’ in the Netherlands.
It is generally accepted that the modern game of golf originated in Scotland including gambling on Golf, and was first documented when James 2nd banned golf in 1457 because he thought it was distracting attention from archery.
A typical golf course consists of 18 holes of varying lengths, although 9 hole golf courses are common and are played twice to complete 18 holes. Early Scottish golf courses were laid out on soil covered sand dunes, just inland from the beach and gave rise to the term ‘golf links’. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are placed 4th and 5th in the list of the number of golf courses per head of population.
The ‘Rules of Golf’’ are now standard throughout the world, and are administered jointly by the R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA). The R&A was formed in 2004, but was originally the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews which was founded in 1754.
Golf is played with a maximum of 14 clubs, usually comprising a Driver for long distance off the Tee, two or more Woods for use from the tee or the Fairway, and a choice of Irons with varying degrees of loft primarily used for approach shots to the Green, and a Putter for use on the green.
Here are two main scoring methods in use in competition golf :-
Stroke Play – the winner is the player who completes a round of 18 holes of golf in the lowest number of strokes. Most Professional golf tournaments are played over four rounds of 18 holes, and the winner is the player with the lowest total shots played.
Match Play – the player or team who complete each hole in the least number of strokes wins the Hole. The winner is the player or team that wins the most holes. If the number of strokes played on a hole is equal, the hole is said to be halved. If a player or team wins enough holes to ensure victory due to insufficient holes remaining, the golf match is over and the remaining holes are not played. For instance, if a player is 3 holes ahead of his opponent on completion of the 16th hole, he cannot be beaten and is said to have won 3 and 2, ie. 3 holes up with 2 to play.
Course or hole classification :
Par – is the number of strokes a skilled golfer is expected to require to complete the hole, including 2 putts on the green. Par for the golf course is the sum of the par ratings of each hole. The number of strokes to reach the green in par is determined by the distance from the tee to the green. Generally, a golf hole of less than 250 yards (225 m ) would be classified as a Par 3 hole ie. One shot to the green and two putts. A hole of 251 to 475 yards ( 225 to 434 m ) in length would be a Par 4 hole, and any golf hole longer than 475 yards would be a Par 5. This is usually the highest par rating on most golf courses. In certain circumstances , a hole on a particular course may be classified differently, perhaps due to the hole being downhill so that the length of golf shot to reach the green may be less than the measured length, or there may be hazards which make it impossible to take a direct route to the hole.
There are a number of well used words to describe golf scores in relation to par, as follows :-
Birdie – one shot under par
Eagle – two shots under par
Albatross – three shots under par
Bogey – one shot over par
Double Bogey – two shots over par
Triple Bogey, etc.
The majority of professional golf tournaments are played as Stroke Play over four rounds of 18 holes. A few golf Competitions are also played on a Match Play basis, but there are other formats in use more often in the Amateur golf game, some of which are :-
Skins – a prize or wager is assigned to each hole, and the players compete to win each hole, as in Match play. If at the end of the round, some ‘skins’ are outstanding, the game usually continues until all the skins have been won.
Stableford – points are awarded for each player’s score on each golf hole relative to par, as follows :-
Bogey – One point
Par – Two points
Birdie – Three points
Eagle – Four points
The winner is the player or team with the most points.
There are also golf formats specifically for team play :-
Foursome – two teams of two, only one ball for each team, and with each golfer hitting alternate shots. The drive is also alternated, irrespective of who played the last shot on the previous hole. It can be played matchplay or strokeplay.
Fourball – two teams of two, but each player plays his own ball. The lowest score in each team counts as the team score. Again Fourballs can be played as matchplay or strokeplay.
Greensome – two teams of two, with both players driving from the tee. The team then selects the best Ball and plays the rest of the golf hole alternately, as in foursomes.
The most prestigious golf competition in professional golf in which these forms of the game are used, is The Ryder Cup which uses both foursomes and fourballs in the match. This is a biennial golf competition between the United States and Europe, which originally began in 1927 with a British team, and assumed its present format in 1979 to allow the participation of the top Spanish golfers of the time. It is the only
professional golf competition with no prize money and with no players being paid.
There are golf tournaments being played by the top professionals on the American and European Tours throughout the world and almost the whole year long. If golf is your preferred sport for a bet, the range of bets available is very wide and the media coverage is very good, particularly during the four ‘ Majors ‘, namely the Augusta Masters, the US Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.