Game in which a player using special clubs attempts to sink a small ball with as few strokes as possible into each of the 9 or 18 successive holes on an outdoor course.
A hole includes (1) a teeing area, a clearing from which the ball is initially driven toward the actual hole, or cup; (2) a fairway, a long, closely mowed, and often angled lane; (3) a putting green, a smooth grassy area containing the hole; and (4) often one or more natural or artificial hazards (such as bunkers). Each hole has associated with it a par, or score standard, usually from par 3 to par 5. The origins of the game are difficult to ascertain, although evidence now suggests that early forms of golf were played in the Netherlands first and then in Scotland. Golf developed in Scotland
the courses were originally fields of grass that sheep had clipped short in their characteristic grazing style. Golf balls were originally made of wood; wood was replaced in the 17th century by boiled feathers stuffed in a leather cover, in the 19th century by gutta-percha, and in the 20th century by hard rubber. Clubs, limited in number to 14, are known by the traditional names of "irons" (primarily for mid-range to short shots) and "woods" (primarily for longer shots); today irons are more likely made of stainless steel, and the heads of woods are usually made of metal such as steel or titanium.