Welcome back to a quick run down of what makes golf a sport and not just a pastime for the bosses and slightly better-off folk of the UK. Golf needn’t be expensive, certainly not when you’re starting out. The whole point of this series of articles this week is to get you forewarned and forearmed before you start shelling out for the latest golf equipment, only to see it gathering dust in the garage, next to the exercise bike, six months from now.
We continue with golf terminology, concentrating on scoring in the next couple of articles. We touched on par (and I don’t mean borrowed money from your dad, however true that may be), in the last article, so that’s where we’ll start off again, here.
If you are said to complete a round of golf or a single hole on level par, that means you have taken the designated amount of shots required for a golfer with a handicap of ‘scratch’, or 0. We’ll look at golf handicap later. But for the time being, think of ‘handicap’ in the terms of the professional golfer being Man Utd., starting a game of golf on nil. The less experienced golfer, playing off a handicap is (I’m going to offend someone here, I know it) perhaps Accrington Stanley, and they are given a two-, three-, four-goal start by Man Utd., Accrington’s lower league standing determining by exactly how many.
What determines par for the golf course
But sorry, I digress somewhat. We’re talking golf scores. The par for each hole is generally determined by the distance from tee box to pin – the official starting point where you place your tee in the ground for your initial drive/shot to the hole or ‘cup’ (the ‘pin’ being the flag), the eventual target object of your golf ball.
There can be other determining factors for par, such as hazards in the shape of water, bunkers, trees, undulating terrain or expansive areas of rough that may add an extra shot or two, regardless of the distance. The design of the golf course, for example the dog-leg hole, which many believe was ‘invented’ by James Braid back at the beginning of the twentieth century, can also mean having to take an extra shot than normally would be expected for the distance.
A typical round of golf has a pre-determined number of differently distanced holes with pars to suit accordingly. Competition golf courses typically have four short par-three holes, which would range between 100-250 yards. The par four holes make up the majority of the golf course, ten holes being designated for the required par-four distance of between 250-450 yards, although some competition golf courses do have par fours as long as 500 yards. Then the remainder of the eighteen holes is generally made up of par five holes, distancing 450-600 yards, although there is no limit. Every now and again there are six and seven par holes, except in American golf which only recognises holes that take up to six shots to play, or par-six holes.