Golf (sport)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Golfers teeing off
Aerial view of the Wittenbeck golf course on the Baltic Sea in Mecklenburg
Golfers in Scotland

Golf is a traditional ball sport . It is important to play a ball with as few strokes as possible, in accordance with the official golf rules, from the tee into the hole, using different golf clubs. A round of golf usually consists of 9 or 18 holes that are completed one after the other on a golf course .

The international umbrella organization is the International Golf Federation (IGF), based in Lausanne , in which 143 member associations from 138 countries are organized. In total there are more than 60 million organized golfers worldwide.


Emperor Xuande playing a kind of golf game in China (around 1425–1435)
The St. Nicholas Festival - painting by the Dutch painter Jan Steen , around 1665. The child in the center of the picture is holding a Colf (bat for the game of the same name); note the balls on the floor, one wooden and one "feathery" (leather ball filled with feathers).

Theories of origin

The Scots are generally considered to be the inventors of golf, but there are also a number of other theories that see the origin in continental Europe. Frequently mentioned are Holland (1297: Colf in Loenen aan de Vecht , but now relativized as a purely oral tradition), France ( Chole around 1200, Paille-Maille documented from 1416, illustration of a golfer putting on a stick in the book of hours of the Adelaïde of Savoy around 1450), Brussels (1360: Ban des Colven ) and Flanders (illustration of a golfer putting a hole on ice in a prayer book around 1480). In Gloucester Cathedral , there is a glass window of 1340, which is to show a golfer. But even in ancient Egypt, in ancient Rome (paganica) and in early Japan, Korea ( tagu , from 1400) and China ( chuiwan , from approx. 1000) there are references to a game with ball and bats.

It is therefore controversial up to which point one has to assume precursors (from which hockey , croquet , baseball or billiards then developed) and from when one can actually speak of golf. Ultimately, it depends on the criteria that are defined as indispensable for golf. For example, it is only since Pieter van Afferden's Latin textbook from 1545 that it has been unequivocally guaranteed that the player must not be disturbed by the opponent when taking the golf swing . The earliest Scottish documents could also refer to a sport that was called "golf", but rather corresponded to the brutal fighting game Soule or Soule à la Crosse .

On the other hand, there is the fact that of all the early or pre-forms of the game of golf, only the Scottish variant has survived to this day. All other forms of play disappeared at some point or developed in a different direction - for example, Colf became the indoor game Kolf. The golf game that is common today was only introduced or re-imported in all non-British countries in the 19th or 20th century.

Interwoven with the question of the origin of the game is the etymology of the word; For example, the sports historian Heiner Gillmeister assumes that the Scottish golf, first attested in 1457, is a borrowing of the Dutch kolv ("club"). Robin K. Bargmann, on the other hand, is of the opinion that Dutch Colf and Scottish Golf developed at the same time and that both terms can be traced back to the Latin word clava ("stick").

Establishment of golf on the British Isles (15th - 17th centuries)

The first written record of golf in today's spelling dates back to 1457, when the Scottish Parliament, with King James II as the driving force , banned “ ye fut bawe and ye golf” and ordered archery to be practiced instead. The ban was imposed by Kings James III. (1471) and James IV. (1491) reaffirmed. He fell victim to the peace treaty between Scotland and England in 1502, which made the paramilitary exercises no longer seem appropriate to the population. It was soon discovered that James IV was playing golf himself when a bill for golf clubs made for him appeared in the court's official budget.

With royal support, golf spread across Britain in the 16th century. The first civil golfer was mentioned in 1527, a certain Sir Robert Maule is said to have played on the Barry Links near the modern Carnoustie . The first reference to golf at St Andrews dates back to 1552 and the following year the Archbishop issued a decree allowing local people to play on the links . As a result, Maria Stuart introduced the sport to France. It is also recorded from 1567 that she played golf immediately after her husband was murdered, for which she was widely criticized. The first golf club maker was recorded in 1603, when William Mayne was appointed "Royal Clubmaker" by King James VI . The "Featherie", a leather ball filled with feathers, came into play in 1618.

International boom (17th - 19th centuries)

The first mention of golf in America was a ban on the game in the streets of Albany , New York , in 1659. The first international match took place in Leith in 1682 , when Scotland (represented by the Duke of York and John Paterson) entered unnamed English duo defeated. In this context, the first caddy became known: An Andrew Dickson carried the Duke of York's clubs. In 1691 St Andrews was described in a private letter as the "Metropolis of golfing".

The first golf club was founded in 1735 with the Royal Burgess Golf Society , although the sources here are controversial. The first export of golf clubs to America dates back to 1743. The Gentlemen Golfers of Leith were founded in Leith in 1744 and also published the first formal set of rules for golf. They later became the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which still exists today . The oldest golf club that has continuously existed on the same site is the St Andrews Society of Golfers, founded in 1754, later renamed the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews . The stroke play was in 1759 St Andrews first mentioned before that it was only the game form of the hole game . In 1764 the 18-hole round was introduced. Royal Blackheath near London became the first golf club outside Scotland in 1766 and the first clubhouse was opened in Leith in 1768.

Golf in the Bad Homburg spa gardens around 1903

The first documented women's tournament was held in Musselburgh (10 km east of Edinburgh ) in 1810, and in 1867 the first women's golf club was established in St Andrews. Outside the British main island, the first club was founded in Bangalore in 1820 , and continental Europe started in Pau in 1856 . The hickory shaft prevailed against other types of wood from 1826, and the steel shaft came onto the market in 1891. From 1848 onwards the featherie was replaced by the gutta-percha ball, which could be produced more cheaply and which, for the same reasons, had to give way to the Haskell ball, a wrapped hard rubber core, in 1898. The Open Championship , the oldest tournament still played today, premiered in Prestwick in 1860 . Young Tom Morris achieved the first recorded hole in one in 1867 . In 1892, the Darmstadt Golf Club was the first club in Germany to be established; British spa guests had been playing in the Bad Homburg spa gardens since 1889, and a group of young Germans led by Philipp Heineken in the Neckar floodplains near Cannstatt from 1890 onwards . The USGA was founded in 1894, the Stableford method of counting was invented in 1898 and the wood tea was patented in 1899.

Modern Golf (20th - 21st Century)

Federal President Walter Scheel playing golf during his stay in Mexico (June 1977)

Golf was represented as a discipline at the Summer Olympics in 1900 and 1904 . In 1902 grooves appeared on the club face, in 1905 dimples appeared on the golf ball, but in 1910 the center-shafted putter and in 1911 the steel shafts were taken out of the game by the R&A . The German Golf Association started its business in 1907. In 1916, the Professional Golfers Association of America was the first to represent the interests of professional golfers . Steel shafts were again permitted everywhere from 1929 and now finally supplanted the hickory shafts. The upper limit of 14 clubs per player per round was first applied in 1938. R & A and USGA agreed in 1951 to a common set of rules, at the same time were stymies abolished and center-shafted putter allowed again. In 1963 the rubber handle (previously leather) and cast irons (previously forged) made their debut, followed in 1969 by the graphite shaft and cavity back irons. The only two golf shots on the moon to date were made by astronaut Alan Shepard in 1971. The first metal driver heads came out in 1979, displacing wood from Persimmon. Titanium was introduced to the American market as a material for wood in 1994 and subsequently established itself.

In 2001, an association for hearing impaired golfers was founded in Hamburg in 2001, and on March 17, 2007 the DGS Golf Division was founded in Dortmund. The Deaf German Championships have been held since 2007. In 2009 the IOC decided that golf should again be an Olympic sport from 2016 ; A decision based on the global mass and top-class sport work, the association structures assessed as exemplary and the many golf game variants as well as entry opportunities such as cross or swing golf . Especially the culture of "downsizing" - characteristic of every mass sport - was an essential aspect in determining it as a future Olympic sport.


Clubhouse of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in front of the world famous Old Course

The first written rules come from the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith in 1744 . The modern golf rules, however, have their origins in the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) founded in 1754 . Today they are jointly published by R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA). The current version has been in effect since January 1, 2019. Considerable changes have been made to the previously applicable rules. In addition, every quarter there is a specification of certain special features that have occurred in the course of the competitions - the so-called "clarifications".

A specialty in golf is the very large and largely natural "playing field" (the so-called golf course). The course consists of the terrain as well as four special technical areas: the tee, bunkers (sand hazards), penalty area (protective areas or water hazards) and the green. Basically, with every stroke, the player plays the course as he finds it and plays the ball as it lies. But: The rules contain exceptions that allow the player to change the conditions of the court and require the player or allow him to play the ball from a different position than where it is. Depending on the position of the ball, a large number of possible situations must be covered by the rules of golf. This is, among other things, the reason why the set of rules with its 24 rules appears extensive in the details.

The rules also include the definitions of the golf rules, the additional "interpretation" (details of certain facts) that are added to each rule and all course rules that have been issued by the game management for the tournament or the course. In addition, the players are responsible for following all parts of an invitation to tender issued by the game management (such as participation requirements, type and date of the game, number of rounds and the order of the holes in a round).

In every national golf association (in Germany the DGV ) there is an expert commission which answers controversial rule questions if it does not consider the facts to be clear.

Goal of the game

Greg Norman on the tee: shortly after the moment of impact

A golf ball (at least 42.67 mm in diameter, weight at most 45.93 grams) with as few golf shots as possible from an area known as the teeing off in accordance with the golf rules in a 10.8 cm diameter and usually several hundred meters away applies to play circular hole . The golf course usually has 9 to 18 fairways, which can be over 7,000 meters long.

If the ball cannot be played properly (for example because it can no longer be found or is sunk in a pond), the rules of golf provide for certain possibilities of resumption, but mostly with the addition of penalty strokes. The sum of beats up to hole the ball (+ golf shots penalty strokes) will score called and on a pre-made list result, the so-called score card noted.


For each fairway (also called "hole") a par (from Latin par "equal") is defined. This value stands for the number of strokes that a very good player (a scratch golfer, i.e. someone who plays handicap 0) needs on average to play the ball from the tee into the hole. When calculating par for a fairway, it is always assumed that two putts will be executed on the green. Then there is a certain number of strokes for the game from the tee to the green. This number varies with the length of the hole, not with its difficulty, which is also given by bunkers , hills, water etc. and is given separately as course and slope rating .

The golf rules of the R&A use the term “par”, but do not stipulate how exactly the par of a hole is determined; this is reserved for the national associations. The DGV currently (as of July 2010) uses the following length classifications:

par Ladies Men's
3 up to 192 m up to 229 m
4th 193 to 366 m 230 to 430 m
5 from 367 m from 431 m

In justified individual cases, a classification deviating from this scheme is possible (e.g. in the case of a particularly steep gradient), but this must be requested separately by the respective golf club and approved by the DGV.

If the ball of a player with "par minus 2" strokes is on the green, it is called a "green in regulation". An 18-hole course often has four par 3 holes, ten par 4 and four par 5. This usually results in a par of 72 for the entire round. In the case of 9-hole courses, these numbers are halved, although there are many short courses among the 9-hole courses , which mainly consist of par-3 holes.

The following names have been used for the various possible scores on a hole:

Technical term meaning
Ace, hole-in-one Stroke that carries the ball straight from the tee into the hole
Condor (also called Double Albatross or Triple Eagle ) four strokes under par
Albatros (English (UK): Albatross , English (USA): Double Eagle ) three strokes under par
eagle two strokes under par
Birdie one stroke under par
Par or Even exactly par
Bogey one stroke over par
Double bogey two strokes over par
Triple bogey three strokes over par

Forms of play, ways of counting

There are two basic forms of play in betting games, namely stroke play and match play , with some variants of each. In stroke play, it depends on the score achieved compared to the rest of the field. Since there is no direct opponent, one often speaks of the game against the pitch. In match play, on the other hand, the aim is to beat a specific opponent by winning more holes (i.e. completing the respective hole with a lower score) than them.

There are two ways of counting for both forms of play, namely gross (the score actually played is decisive) and net (the score played is adjusted to compensate for the different skill levels of the participants). Thus, the absolute best golfer results from the gross tableau and the net counting method determines the relatively best player, who was most successful in comparison to his personal playing strength.

A variant of stroke play that is widespread in Germany is the Stableford stroke game . This form of play is also used to determine the handicaps of golfers organized in the German Golf Association ( DGV ).

Handicap, handicap, handicap

The handicap expresses the golfer's playing potential. It indicates the factor by which the actually played score is adjusted for a net rating, and is intended to enable an exciting competition even between opponents of different skill levels. In other countries, handicaps are determined by the golf associations there using different methods, so that sometimes only a very rough comparison is possible. The handicap systems are to be standardized to form the World Handicap System in 2021.

All over the world, however, a bogey golfer is understood to be an advanced amateur who pits on average with one stroke over par, whereas the scratch golfer plays around par so that he has a handicap of zero and at least in terms of skill level as a professional applies. A golf beginners is commonly called Rabbit designated (rabbit).

The handicap of a player ( handicap ) is derived from his current game results and is part of the calculation basis of the handicap for his game on a specific golf course.

Play device

Golf clubs

Wood, putter and iron

According to the golf rules, the player can take up to 14 clubs on a round of golf. The clubs differ in the length of the shaft (measured in inches for golf ), loft , design and material. Basically, the flight path of the ball is controlled by the loft and the shaft length: the more loft, the higher and shorter the flight path; the longer the club, the more it can be accelerated and the further the ball flies.

The woods are used for the tee-off and long strokes (area from 180 m) on the fairway. They are the longest rackets and have the largest racket head, which is hollow and, despite its name, is no longer made of wood. Most players have a wood 1 (also called a driver) in their bag and one to three other woods for shorter distances (wood 3, 5, 7).

For the medium-length strokes (70–180 m) iron clubs are used, which allow more precise strokes compared to wood. Irons are the most flexible clubs. It is entirely possible to play a round of golf with only half a set of irons.

Hybrid or rescue clubs are a mix of iron and wood clubs, they offer a compromise between the length of a wood and the accuracy of an iron. Typically, a player will have no more than one or two hybrid clubs. These then mostly serve as a substitute for a long iron.

Wedges are used for short shots around the green (less than 100 m) or for very difficult locations (bunkers, ditches, tall grass). They are similar to irons but are shorter and have more loft. A standard set includes at least the pitching wedge and the sand wedge . There is also the Gap Wedge and the Lob Wedge .

The putter is used to put the ball on the green . Playing with this racket is called putting. The ball does not fly through the air like with the other clubs, but rolls over the green. The putter is especially important as it is used more often than any other club (the par standard assumes two putts per hole).

Golf ball

Trolley and golf bag

A trolley is used to comfortably transport a golf bag, which contains the golf club set and other utensils (balls, rainwear, drinks, food, etc.) over the golf course. A golf trolley usually also has an umbrella and a scorecard holder.

One distinguishes

  • non-motorized , mostly two-wheeled trolleys that are conventionally pulled behind you or pushed in front of you as three or four-wheeled push trolleys, and
  • motorized trolleys equipped with an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery . These electric trolleys are mostly three-wheeled, may even have a seat and are guided by the golfer following them. Alternatively there are electric trolleys with remote control.

Often times a trolley is mistakenly called a caddy or even a cart .

Golf course

Golf is played on a golf course. This usually has 9 to 18 fairways (also called holes), each of which consists of the basic elements tee , fairway and green . The course is planned by a golf architect and run by a golf club or a commercial operating company. The maintenance of a golf course is very complicated and requires several Green Keeper and a number of special machines. The maintenance costs depend on the quality of the space and for most systems are between 300,000 and 900,000 euros per year.

Access to golf

For a long time, golf was a sport that had a fairly high entry barrier due to the time and capital required (similar to riding and sailing). On the one hand, this was due to the fact that the construction and maintenance of a golf course are very expensive, which was then passed on to the members in the form of high admission and annual fees. In addition, the extensive equipment used to be relatively expensive because it had to be imported from England.

Today that has largely changed, as there are now many public golf courses and the equipment is also available in normal sports shops. Anyone can practice and play golf on the public facilities; they are completely normal, usually for-profit service providers. Most of the private golf clubs have opened their courses to day visitors, but they reserve various access restrictions. In particular, the contributing members should, of course, be able to run an orderly game operation, which could otherwise prove to be problematic, especially on the weekends.

It is debatable to what extent some particularly traditional golf clubs still hold the opinion that the access restrictions should also serve to promote a certain social homogeneity in the golf community. There are isolated indications that point to such practices, for example if only golfers from clubs with "cheap offers" are covered by the access restriction. A counter-argument made in this context is that these access restrictions relate to golf clubs that were recently founded or free gaming communities whose members have not yet contributed to the creation of golfing infrastructure to the same extent as members of older clubs. In this respect, this reservation of use has no social reasons from the point of view of the traditional clubs, rather solidarity should be established between golf courses that have made a comparable contribution to the development of the sport itself.

In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and a few other countries, the permit is to play on a golf course, by obtaining the so-called handicap (PR) or Platzerlaubnis made subject (PE), which can be purchased in PE classes. Here the basics of the game and golf etiquette are learned. It is important that this PE only applies to the respective golf club, another golf club does not have to recognize it. In many cases a handicap is required to be able to play on other courses, and it is often required that the handicap has been assigned by a particular golf association (e.g. one that is a member of the European Golf Association ). At many clubs you also have to show a minimum handicap at peak times (often −36 or better on weekends) or you can only tee off if you are accompanied by members.

In Germany you can also have a handicap outside of a traditional golf club, for example as a member of the VcG . There is a similar organization with the ASGI in Switzerland. Furthermore, many golf clubs offer so-called remote memberships for players who do not live in the respective catchment area. The free right to play on the home pitch is partially restricted, but the membership fees are also considerably lower. There are also a number of smaller providers who sell even cheaper foreign memberships or handicap administrations without being tied to a golf course or golf association. However, some golf course operators exclude customers of these organizations as guest players or charge them a higher green fee.

In Scandinavia and the traditional holiday regions for golfers (Spain, Portugal, North Africa, Turkey), guests are welcome almost everywhere, but the requirement for a minimum handicap is not yet being abandoned across the board. In the Anglo-American countries, on the other hand, golf is a popular sport, there are a large number of publicly accessible courses that can be played against the sole payment of a green fee. On the other hand, there are also many very exclusive and purely private clubs in the USA that generally only allow guests when accompanied by a club member.

Range Fee

The range fee is a fee that is charged by the operator of a golf course for the use of the practice facilities (driving range, pitching and chipping green, putting green and often also the 6-hole short course). In addition, a usage fee is usually charged for the balls struck on the driving range. Occasionally, instead of the range fee, a higher price is charged for using the practice balls. It is strictly forbidden to play with range balls on the regular court. For the members of the respective golf club, the range fee is already covered by the membership fee, and a discount is occasionally given on the practice balls.

Green Fee Tag (to be attached to the golf bag )

Green fee

The green fee must be paid by the golfer if he is not a permanent member of the golf club. It serves, so to speak, as the price of admission to unfamiliar places. The range fee is included in the green fee.

Annual fee

The golfer can join a golf club and become a permanent member; an annual fee is usually due, which then generally entitles the golfer to generally unlimited use of the course. A green fee is no longer due for him on this course. The amount of the annual fees are determined by the golf clubs themselves and can vary greatly.

Big tournaments


Golf - Grand Slam tournaments
competition place Emergence meeting
US Masters Augusta , Georgia 1934 April
US Open United States 1895 June
The Open Championship UK 1860 July
PGA Championship United States 1916 August


The four largest and most important annual tournaments are the majors. In the past, the two most important amateur tournaments (British Amateur and US Amateur) belonged to the majors, today the best players are without exception professionals and the majors are all professional tournaments (some of the best amateurs are invited).

The Augusta National Golf Club holds the first major of the year in April. The US Masters in Augusta , Georgia is the only major that always takes place in the same place, even if it is constantly being rebuilt.

In June, the world's elite compete for the US Open , which has been hosted by the USGA since 1895 and thus has the greatest continuity with regard to the organizer of all majors.

The oldest major (first held in 1860) and the only one outside of the USA is The Open Championship in July. It is always played on a links course in Great Britain and has been hosted by the R&A since 1920 .

Finally, the PGA of America organizes the PGA Championship in August .


The following competitions are qualified as "major" for women:

Olympic games

Since the 2016 Summer Games, golf has been Olympic again - well-known professional golfers compete here too: Inbee Park (KOR) and Justin Rose (GBR) won the gold medal in Rio .

Team competitions

Every other year, teams from the US and Europe compete against each other to determine the winner of the Ryder Cup . Each team consists of twelve players, both foursome and singles are played, the form of play here, unlike the majors, is match play . The Ryder Cup is jointly administered by the PGA of America and the PGA European Tour .

In the years that the Ryder Cup is paused, there is a similar, albeit less prestigious, tournament called the Presidents Cup . The USA team competes against the "rest of the world except Europe". In those years, the Europeans host the Seve Trophy , a comparison between continental Europe and Great Britain & Ireland. Another team competition was the Royal Trophy , in which golfers from Europe and Asia faced each other from 2006 to 2013.

The most important team competition for women is the Solheim Cup , which is the female counterpart to the Ryder Cup.


The most important tournament series for professionals are organized by the US PGA Tour and the European PGA European Tour . Most of these tournaments, like the majors, are played as stroke play over four rounds that take place on four consecutive days. This is usually Thursday to Sunday, but there are occasional changes due to weather conditions. After the second round, only a limited number of participants, usually around half of the field, are allowed for the two final rounds. The so-called cut is the placement that must be achieved after the first two rounds in order to be allowed to participate in the final rounds. In most cases, reaching the cut is accompanied by the payment of prize money to the appropriate player.

Senior majors

Five major championships take place every year in the professional senior sector, i.e. golfers over 50 years of age. These tournaments run over four rounds, unlike the usual senior tournaments, which are played after three rounds. Four of these so-called Senior Majors are hosted by the North American tournament series Champions Tour on US courts, while the Senior British Open is hosted by the European Seniors Tour on British soil.

In detail, these are the following tournaments (in the current order in which they are held):

  • The Tradition (part of the Champions Tour since it was founded in 1989) - held in May
  • Senior PGA Championship (founded in 1937; part of the Champions Tour since 1980; part of the European Seniors Tour since 2007) - May
  • Senior British Open Championship (part of the European Seniors Tour since it was founded in 1987; part of the Champions Tour since 2003) - July
  • US Senior Open (part of the Champions Tour since it was founded in 1980) - July
  • Senior Players Championship (part of the Champions Tour since it was founded in 1983) - August

Variations on traditional golf

In addition to traditional golf, there are a number of variants of this sport:

See also

Portal: Golf  - Everything about golf in Wikipedia


  • Tony Dear: Birdie! The whole world of golf. ("Every golf question you ever wanted answered"). Copress-Verlag, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-7679-1027-0 .
  • André-Jean Lafaurie: Le Golf: son histoire de 1304 à nos jours. Grancher Depot, Paris 1988, ISBN 2-7339-0189-3 .
  • Duncan Lennard: Golf secrets. The best tricks of the tour players. ("Golf secrets of the pros"). Kosmos, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-440-12767-4 .
  • Vivien Saunders: The Golf Handbook. A complete guide to the greatest of all games. ("The golf handbook"). 5th edition. Year, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-86132-535-7 .
  • Claudia Schramm: The importance of golf and its effect on the tourism industry. A state of the art analysis of the tourist product sport, especially in regards to the game of golf. VDM Verlag Müller, Saarbrücken 2009, ISBN 978-3-639-02863-8 .

Web links

Commons : Golf  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Golf  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  2. ^ A b Michael Flannery, Richard Leech: Golf through the Ages. Golf Links Press, Fairfield, Iowa 1809, ISBN 0-9743332-1-2 .
  3. Archive link ( Memento from January 22, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  5. ^ A b Robin K. Bargmann: Serendipity of Early Golf. Robin K. Bargmann 2010, ISBN 978-90-816364-1-4 .
  6. ^ Anatoly Liberman : Golf (Post on his blog The Oxford Etymologist , July 6, 2011)
  7. ^ German Golf Association e. V. (Ed.): 100 years of golf in Germany. Albrecht Golf Verlag, Oberhaching 2007, ISBN 978-3-87014-274-2 .