All posts by golf-information

Physics of the Golf Shot

Photo ©  carrry/Istockphoto
Photo © carrry/Istockphoto

A golf ball acquires spin when it is hit.

Backspin is imparted in almost every shot due to the golf club’s loft (i.e. angle between the clubface and a vertical plane).

A spinning ball deforms the flow of air around it and thereby acts similar to an airplane wing; a backspinning ball therefore experiences an upward force which makes it fly higher and longer than a ball without spin would.

The amount of backspin also influences the behavior of a ball when it hits the ground. A ball with little backspin will usually roll out for a considerable distance while a ball with much backspin may not roll at all or in some cases even roll backwards.

Sidespin occurs when the clubface is not aligned perpendicularly to the direction of swing. Sidespin makes the ball curve to the left or right, a hook or slice respectively for a right handed player; this effect can be made use of to steer it around obstacles or towards the safe side of a difficult fairway. However, it is difficult to control the amount of sidespin, and many poor shots result from uncontrolled or excessive spin that makes the ball curve sharply.

Recommended Reading:

science-of-golfNewton on the Tee:
A Good Walk Through the Science of Golf
by John Zumerchik
More information:


physics-of-golfThe Physics of Golf
by Theodore P. Jorgensen
More information:



every-shot-must-have-a-purpEvery Shot Must Have a Purpose:
How GOLF54 Can Make You a Better Player (Hardcover)
by Pia Nilsson, Lynn Marriott, Ron Sirak
More information:



the-search-for-the-perfect-golf-clubThe Search for the Perfect Golf Club
by Tom W. Wishon, Tom Grundner
An extremely well-written book on golf equipment technology for the everyday golfer.
More information:


See also:
Loft, trajectory and spin
Choosing the right equipment
Choosing the right golf clubs for your game
Choosing the right golf shaft flex
Choosing the right golf balls

Course Management and Position Golf

or How to improve your score by playing position golf

Photo © sp4764/Istockphoto
Photo © sp4764/Istockphoto

Course management is one of the most neglected aspects of a golfer’s game.

Most players concentrate on hitting the ball well, but forget that the purpose of the game of golf is to ultimately attain the lowest possible score, not to show off perfect shots on every single stroke. In other words, depending on the course and the hole you are about to play, it is sometimes safer (and wiser) to play for a bogey than trying to go for a one in a million shot. This ability to always play the right shot at the right time is what makes a successful golfer.

Very closely linked is the concept of position golf. Playing position golf could be defined as striving to land your golf ball in the best position for the next shot rather than trying to achieve a technical prowess on your current shot. Whatever his level in golf, a golfer will always benefit from playing position golf rather than trying to show off their best golf skills on every shot.

Photo © spxChrome/Istockphoto
Photo © spxChrome/Istockphoto
Therefore, the ability to wisely evaluate the course, the conditions, and the shot is vitally important in order to make the right decision and lower your score. After hitting the first plateau, that separates complete beginners from more advanced players, course management is the part of the game you should study next.

Course management will help you to handle serious lies and situations on the course; cope with poor weather conditions; evaluate risks and rewards, then make the right decision; curve the ball and manage trajectory when you need to. It will help you to position the ball in a spot to make the next shot easier (position golf). It will show you, for example, that in handling a pond, stream or bunker it may be wiser NOT to get as close to the hazard with your layup shot, but that you may rather choose to play up short or to the side in order to facilitate your next shot. Or that you should always aim to leave yourself an uphill putt, because making uphill putts is easier than downhill putts. Indeed, players instinctively have a tendency to decelerate through the ball, fearing it will otherwise finish well pass the hole, so trying to leave your approach shot to the green under the hole, thus leaving yourself an uphill putt may be a safer choice.

So, here’s a recap of the strategies you can apply to lower your score by playing position golf:

1. Tee off with the right golf club for your game
Automatically taking out your driver at the tee because that’s what you’re expected to do, may not necessarily be the best choice, especially if it puts you in a blind position for your next shot. If you have more control with a 2 or 3 wood than with a driver, then, depending on your evaluation of the golf course, it may at times be a better choice to switch clubs in order to position your ball more securely for the next shot.

2. Take into account the length of the golf hole
Teeing off in order to get your ball the furthest is not necessarily the best strategy. Calculate upfront where you’d like the ball to land so that you can play your favorable club from that position on the fairway. Depending on the distance you may again choose a 2 or 3 wood over your driver.

3. Aim at an uphill putt rather than a downhill putt
As we already mentioned, uphill putts are easier than downhill putts, because players instinctively have a tendency to decelerate through the ball, fearing it will otherwise finish well pass the hole. So, leaving yourself an uphill putt may be a safer choice.

4. Stay at a safety distance from an obstacle in order to facilitate your next shot
When handling a pond, stream or bunker, manage trajectory when you need to. Always play an obstacle with the next shot in mind, leaving the ball in a safe position for your next shot, even if that means an extra shot, rather than going for a seemingly perfect shot that may put you in a blind or unsafe position for your next shot and ultimately cost you more shots.

5. Prepare the game the night before by studying the course map
Remember that course management starts even before you tee off on the first hole. Indeed, as a player you should have not only a plan for each and every shot, but you should also always have a plan for the round you are going to play. So, to successfully implement the previous four points do your homework and study the course map the night before, clearly defining the game strategy and stick to it!

As a next, more advanced step, some players also use books about Golf Course Architecture to gain a better understanding about course management and how the golf course “reacts”. Architecture is important because it is what makes the player stop and scratch his head on the course. Similarly to how a tennis player would take into account how the ball reacts on clay vs concrete vs grass, golf architecture can teach you a lot on how to play the various parts and variations of a golf course. See below for a selection of golf course management and golf course architecture books.

Recommended reading:

course-management-2The Golf Magazine Course Management Handbook (Six-Step Stroke-Saver System)
by Gary Wiren
Presents a concise, simple program to the fundamentals of a sound, smart game.
More information:


course-management-3The Anatomy of a Golf Course : The Art of Golf Architecture
by Tom Doak, Ben Crenshaw
Explores the intricacies of golf architecture-and how this knowledge can improve your golf game.
More information:



course-management-4Grounds for Golf:
The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
by Geoff Shackelford
Explains the fundamentals of golf course design in an understandable and entertaining style. Aimed more towards the golfer rather than the aspiring architect.
More information:

How to choose the best golf clubs for your game

by Vincent Volder

Wilson , Callaway, Titleist, Adams , King Cobra, Yonex, Ping , Taylor Made, Mizuno, and Spaulding are all excellent name brand golf clubs. As a beginning or even a professional golfer, trying to decide which set of golf clubs to purchase, however, may often feel like taking a shot in the dark. In a society that is increasingly name brand conscious, many of us are tempted to simply buy what everyone else seems to be buying. Selecting the proper golf clubs, however, is something that you shouldn’t do without having a good idea of what types are available and what the specific use of each club is. Using the proper golf club can and will greatly improve your game. Other important things to consider are choosing the right lie and the right shaft flex. The flexibility of the shaft of the club is known as the bend or flex. If you’re a powerful swinger, you’ll have more control with less bend. Beginners and less powerful swingers are better off with more flexibility.

If you’re new to the game of golf, the first thing you need is a basic set of golf clubs. A basic set will include irons, putters, wedges and drivers, and even though most nongolfers don’t believe it, each type of club is designed to improve the speed of your swing and will help you correct faults in your game. Using the right type of golf club is essential and will make the learning process quicker and easier. The first thing to consider when choosing a set of golf clubs is your basic ability level. There are basically three ability levels including: low handicaps, mid handicaps and high handicaps.

If you’re a low-handicap golfer, you generally score less than ten strokes over par. Low-handicap golfers should carry at least one fairway wood and a driver as well as lower irons, and at least 3 wedges, a pitching wedge, sand wedge and either a lob wedge or approach wedge. A mid-handicap golfer in the 11-20 handicap range should add a 7-wood or even a 9-wood to their bag. The fairway woods will provide much better control and consistency than the long irons. Mid-handicap golfers should stick to the 3 and 9-irons and the same wedges recommended above. High-handicap golfers are either new to the game or just haven’t mastered the basics and usually shoots over 100. It’s highly suggested that high-handicap golfers use the 3-wood for the tee off and add in the 7 and 9-woods. The same wedges would apply that are suggested for the low and mid-handicap golfers.

Today, common concensus is that the most important club you can have in your golf bag is a hybrid. Many golfers have used this club to replace the three-iron. Tour players are even switching to this club. Hybrids to check out include the Taylormade Rescue Mid (which continues to dominate the market and is found in more bags on the tour than any other hybrid), the Nike CPR, and the Ben Hogan CFT. The hybrid is a club that favors the golfer who is generating good clubhead speed, but needs to add to long-iron trajectory. The lower center of gravity in this club produces higher shots while a short shaft will improve control and accuracy.

Drivers and woods are probably the most important clubs in the bag and everybody loves them. Mainly used for longer shots, drivers are usually the first club out of the bag on the tee. Some advanced golfers, however, may decide to use a driver off the fairway is they need a little extra distance. A fairway or metal wood is also used off the tee if you need a more accurate shot or you don’t need as much distance as you would get with a driver. This club is a utility club that can also be used in fairway bunkers and tight lies in the rough. The most popular drivers on the market today are the Taylormade r7quad, the Taylormade r5 dual and the Ping G2.

Fairway woods are usually considered the most reliable golf club and seem to be a favorite because they tend to make you look better than you really are. This is a club that is evolving slowly but should definitely have a place in your bag. A fairway wood usually improves a golfer’s accuracy and allows him to loft the ball higher. A few favorites include the Cobra SZ and the Calloway Big Bertha.

The iron is a club that is definitely riding on the edge of technology and suprisingly enough is getting less expensive. While this club isn’t perfect yet, it’s getting there, and most players should be using game improvement irons. These irons stress perimeter weighting, forgiveness and higher trajectory. The three irons that are getting the most attention today are the Ping G2, the Calloway Big Bertha and the Calloway Big Bertha Fusion. Often the most overlooked club in the bag is the wedge. This club, however, is a necessity in every golfer’s bag and definitely a trusted friend to every player who’s ever been on the tour. The Cleveland CG10, the Titleist Vokey, and the Cleveland 588 are three of the best. The popularity of the wedge is evident in that Cleveland and Titleist have over 112 combined wedge options.

Finally, the putter is a club that has certainly gone high tech and some of the newer Super Mallets look like they belong in Science Fiction movies. Thankfully, though the traditional putters are still performing well and remain favorites. The Super Mallet putters getting the most attention are the Odyssey 2-ball (White Steel), the Ping G2i Craz-E and the TaylorMade Rossa Monza/Mezza Monza. The old standbys of the traditional putters include the Ping G2i, the PING JAS, and the Yes! Golf C-Groove.

Once you have a general understanding of when and why you need to use a certain type of club, there are still many decisions to make before actually making a purchase. Many driving ranges have golf clubs for rent and it may be a good idea to try out a few different clubs before actually making your purchase. Golf clubs, especially the name brands like Titleist, Cleveland and Nike can be very expensive. If you’re new to the sport, consider starting out with second hand clubs. If you find a set that fits, you can usually get them for a steal.

About the author:
Vincent Volder is running the website where he features the latest golf news from the various golf blogs on the web. Updated everyday with the hottest news from around the world.

See also:
Bestselling drivers, putters, irons, hybrid clubs, woods, wedges, left-handed clubs
Golf Club Equipment
Types of golf clubs
Choose the right shaft flex
5 best uses for Hybrid utility clubs
Which Golf Ball suits your Game ?
Tips to choose your Golf Shoes
Hybrid club or fairway wood ?

Chole, Pall Mall, Jeu de Mail and Kolven

(The Complete History of Golf – Part 3)

Source: Books of Hours (Duchess of Burgundy, 1450)
Source: Books of Hours
(Duchess of Burgundy, 1450)

In 1353 appears the first recorded reference to “CHOLE”, a popular cross country game being played in Northern France (where it was sometimes also called SOULE) and Belgium between the 13th and the 15th century. While chole players used wooden bended clubs and traditional leather filled balls, the game was more similar to hockey, as it was played with one common ball by two different teams, with the objective to achieve a specific target (a gate, a door or even a couple of rocks).

The two teams were playing one against another in the sense that, first, one team was shooting the ball in one direction (the chole) and after it was the task of the other team to countershoot the ball (the decholade) in the opposite direction. Each team had a “chole” made of a sequence of 3 consecutive strokes before the ball belonged to the opponents for their “dechole” that consists in one single stroke (aimed to shot the ball as far as possible from the goal and in a difficult area). The game was played in open fields usually using natural hazards as part of the difficulty to reach the objective.

1421 – A Scottish regiment aiding the French against the English at the Siege of Bauge is introduced to the game of chole. Hugh Kennedy, Robert Stewart and John Smale, three of the identified players, are credited with introducing the game in Scotland.

Another, simpler, version of Chole was “CROSSE” also being played in France.

In the 15th century, another popular game in England (mainly London and its suburbs) was called “PALL MALL” (pronounced pal-mal or pell-mell) or palle maille. The name comes from the pallamaglio, which literally means “ball-mallet”. The object was to strike a boxwood ball of about 1 foot (30cm) in circumference (about the same size as a modern croquet ball) with a heavy wooden mallet from one pre-determined place to another, sometimes as far as neighboring villages near London.

Pall mall was popular in Italy, France and Scotland, and spread to England in the 17th century. The name “pall mall” refers not only to the game, but also to the mallet used and the alley in which it was played. It is considered by some as the precusor to croquet.

A variant of Pall Mall became increasingly popular in the South of France was JEU DE MAIL. This one was played with straight wooden clubs that had a sort of hammer shape at one hand called “mail” (i.e. wooden mallet). The scope of the game was to shot a wooden ball (!) till a specific target, normally an arc, located at ½ miles or longer from the starting point with the minimum number of strokes. As in modern golf, this was one of the few ancient sports where each player was playing with his own individual ball for the whole game. See below picture for reference:

Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs, published 1891
Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs,
published 1891

The Jeu de Mail was very popular at its time. The book written by A. Robb (Historical Gossip about Golf and Golfers), offers a very detailed description of the game that resembles modern golf quite a lot with the exception that the target is never a hole but a designated mark on the ground. The clubs, hammered shaped, were designed to cope with bad lies as on one end they had a sort of flat shape to give the club with some loft in case of needs.

It is worth mentioning that this game was still played in some small villages of southern France untill last century.

Medal "Kolven"
Medal “Kolven”

It is chronicled that two teams of four, equipped with wooden clubs, hit wooden balls over a ‘course’ measuring 2,5 miles. The targets were outside doors with the objective for each team to score a “goal” in the lowest number of strokes. The fact that this game was part of a “local celebration” is a sign that “kolf” should have been a popular game at that time.

Delft-style Tile illusrating "Kolven"
Delft-style Tile illusrating “Kolven”

The game of Kolven appears in many Dutch paintings, pottery, tiles, suggesting its popularity at that time. Its popularity remains very strong even today as is not uncommon to see players in the Northern part of Holland. At origin it was an indoor game but it soon developed also as an outdoor sport being played on ice (on frozen channels, small lakes and rivers) or on kolf courts specifically confined for the game.

Some golf historians claim that the origin of golf as well as of the word “golf” itself originate from kolf. Van Hengels and J.A. Brongers, considered two of the most acknowledgeable Dutch golf historians, based their theory on the frequent trading exchanges between Holland and Scotland in medieval times and reinforced their theory claiming that there is “golf evidence” dating back to 1300 – in documents, paintings and sketches, even before the first record of golf in Scotland.

However, there is also proof of the opposite.

First of all, the dutch kolf is played with the objective to hit a specific post with the fewest possible strokes. The game could be played either in teams (one against another) or by single individuals but only with one common ball. Moreover, it was played in a confined area (outside or inside), indicating similarities with hockey rather than with golf. Futhermore, a book dating from 1795, the Statistical Account of Scotland, clearly described the game kolf as different from golf. This proves that, already in those years, Scottish people were very clear about the differences between golf and kolf. It is worth remembering that the word “golf” was first recorded in 1457, in an act of the Scottish Parliament, when the sport was banned because it interfered with military practices (such as archery…).


Recommended books:

golf-history-12The Implements of Golf:
A Canadian Perspective (Mercury Series, History Division, Paper 49)
by W. Lyn Stewart, David R. Gray
More information:


golf-history-16Golf : An Album of Its History
by Robert McCord
More information:



by Dale Concannon
More information:



golf-history-10Golf History and Tradition
by David Stirk
Explores the possible origins of the sport staring with ancient Rome, and moving through all the significant events and developments of the sport. With biographies on significant golfers.
More information:



See also:
Asian origin of golf
Early Golf history in Europe and the whole Mediterranean basin
Chole, Mail, Kolven
Golf history from 1457 to 1847
Golf history from 1848 -1894
Golf history from 1895 – 1921
Golf history from 1922 – 1944

The Basic Set of Equipment for the Novice Golfer

Photo ©
Photo ©

Choosing the proper equipment is essential to improve your game and lower your score. Most golfers, whether beginning or pro golfers, struggle when trying to decide which golf club to buy. The buying process becomes easier when the golfer has a good understanding of the types of golf clubs available and their specific use.

For the novice golfer, using the proper type of golf club will help to learn quickly and achieve results. According to USGA rules, a player is allowed to carry up to 14 clubs. However, beginner golfers don’t really need all 14 clubs. The basic set of golf clubs for a novice player usually consists of a driver, an iron and a putter. Choosing the right type of club will help with swing speed and correct faults that will improve your game and your score.

Golf clubs come in different types, styles and materials, each with their specific use. For shorter shots, irons may be the best option. Irons are usually sold in sets that include different sizes. Apart from the type of golf club, the shaft’s material (graphite or steel) as well as the shaft flex, shaft torque and shaft length are also important factors in a club’s selection. One of the less expensive materials for a shaft is steel. Clubs with a steel shaft are heavier but are usually more durable and less expensive. The steel shaft may also give you more control over your faster swings. Graphite shaft will be lighter than steel, but will be more expensive. This type of club is used for long distance shots or for slower swingers (women, juniors and seniors).

Drivers and fairway woods generally come with a graphite shaft, while irons exist with a steel or graphite shaft. Beginners usually benefit from a graphite shaft.

The flexibility of a shaft is referred to as flex, or bend. Shafts come in a variety of flexes. Flex is important because if the flex of your golf club’s shaft doesn’t match the needs of your swing, the clubface will be misaligned at impact, causing your shots to go off-target. So, your flex will impact how straight you hit the ball, how high or low it goes and how long or short it travels. For more info on how to choose the right shaft flex for your game read How to choose the right shaft flex for your golf clubs.

As a general rule one can say that a stiffer shaft will produce a lower flight, shorter distance and increased accuracy, while a more flexible shaft will produce a higher shot, but more left/right variance and a little more distance. Depending on the type of directional problems and the accuracy problems golfers may need a different flex type. For more information on shaft flex see: Shaft flex and shaft torque. According to Jack Moorehouse, most high-handicappers (especially men) tend to over-swing. If this describes you, you should consider a softer flex to help you slow your swing down. Slowing down the swing will certainly produce more accurate shots and better distance control. For more info read How to choose the right shaft flex for your golf clubs.

The difference in shaft torque will usually not be noticeable to the average golfer. Note that the latest generation of driver shafts combine a flexible shaft with a stiff tip, giving the golfer the required flex to “whip” into the ball while reducing clubhead twisting. For more information on shaft torque see: Shaft flex and shaft torque.

Irons come with a cavity-back and blade design. Cavity-backed design is more forgiving, as they move more weight to the periphery of the iron head, making it easier to get the ball off the ground and making bad shots not as tragic as they would be with blades. They are therefore the best option for beginners. Blades, however, allow experienced players to shape shots better. So they retain certain advantages for low handicappers.

Some beginner sets also allow to replace long irons with hybrid clubs, a cross between long irons and fairway woods, which is a good choice when you want to obtain fast results.

In addition to clubs, you will also need a golf bag to help you move from green to green, and of course, golf balls. Golf balls are probably the most overlooked piece of equipment, both by novice players and more experienced golfers. A good knowledge of a golf ball’s characteristics, such as compression, spin and distance can prove helpful in enhancing your strengths and masking your weaknesses on the golf course. Read more about this topic in our article about golf balls.

The choice of a good pair of golf shoes is also an important asset in your equipment. Good golf shoes will help stabilize your body, which is essential to achieve the perfect swing. Golf shoes are also designed to handle the hilly or slippery terrains more comfortably.

Other accessories include golf tees, golf gloves, a golf cap, clothing, and possibly sunglasses, as well as covers for your golf clubs to protect them from the weather conditions or while being stored.

Welcome to the club !

Golf tips for beginners

(and higher handicappers wishing to break out of a plateau)

As a novice (or recent new) golfer you may be overwhelmed by the number and variety of golf tips you come across. That is why we have grouped and organized a number of key concepts that will help you get some insight in the game and get you started on the golf course.

playing-golf-6bIf you are completely new to the game, please read this section first:
Play of the Game and the basic set of equipment for the beginning golfer. Otherwise just read on.

The first and most important golf tip you need to know is that playing golf is not just about having a good technique. Most novice golfers will put all their efforts into improving their game (technique), while there are in fact five axes along which you can work to become a better golfer. Technique is just the first one, but you can also work on your strategy (course management, scoring) and mental game (confidence) to make the most out of your current game, whichever your level at any given point. It is especially important to remember this any time you will reach a plateau in your technical game. Understanding the physics of golf (dynamics) and training your flexibility are also essential to support your technical game. You will find more info about these five key points throughout our website, but you may also want to consult the following books about the Physics of golf, Exercise guides for golfers and books that will teach you how to master the Mental game of golf. Gathering and understanding this background info will help you to feel more comfortable and confident before heading to the green and hitting your next (first) golf ball.

Maybe this is not as straightforward to see, but knowing the golf rules and golf etiquette almost by heart is a first and relatively easy way to build up your confidence. The quintessence of this game is to show consideration for your fellow players, for the golf course and the golf rules, so new players who have a thorough knowledge of the theoretical game will force respect from their fellow players. So, we recommend you go through the golf rules and golf etiquette pages (for beginners, see: golf etiquette for beginners), and of course, grasp the general idea of the play of the game. Please also have a look at the safety tips on the golf course.

Remember that sportmanship and etiquette form integral parts of the golf game, so reading these sections are really fundamental to understand what golf is all about.

Then, of course, you have to choose the right equipment. Choosing the right equipment, tailored to your level, may considerably help you in ‘masking’ your temporary shortcomings in the game. To help you make the right choice, we advice you to first have a quick look at the pages explaining the basics of golf clubs, the different types of clubs, the golf ball faqs and types of shots used in golf. Make sure you also read this article explaining the basic set of equipment for the novice golfer. More advanced golfers may want to read the following article: Choosing the right equipment.

Later on, you may also want to investigate a bit further about the different scoring systems and how handicap systems are calculated. However, if you are just starting, you may want to leave these topics for later.

Once you will have gained some confidence and pratice remember to check our tips to further improve your game and lower your score.

Let us now first analyze the Play of the game (or recap, for those who already have a basic knowledge):

Photo: Anna Kirsten Dickie
Photo: Anna Kirsten Dickie
Every game of golf is based on playing a number of holes in a given order. A round typically consists of 18 holes that are played in the order determined by the course layout. On a nine-hole course, a standard round consists of two successive nine-hole rounds. The hole on the green has a flag on a pole positioned in it so that it may be seen from some distance (but not necessarily from the tee). It is also termed “the pin”.

Players usually walk (or sometimes drive) over the course in groups of two, three, or four, sometimes accompanied by caddies who carry and manage the players’ equipment and give them advice. Each player plays a ball from the tee to the hole. except that in foursomes (see our seperate article about the Types of competition, one player from each team tees off and the players then take alternate shots until the ball is holed out. For the shortest holes a good player requires only one stroke to hit the ball to the green. The grass of the putting green is cut very short so that a ball can roll over distances of several meters. “To putt” means to play a stroke on the green where the ball does not leave the ground.

On longer holes the green is too far away to reach with the first stroke, so that one or more strokes are played from the fairway (where the grass is cut so low that most balls can be easily played) or from the rough (uncut grass or ground not prepared at all). The direction of growth of individual blades of grass affects the rolling of a golf ball and is called the grain. When individual players have all brought a ball into play, the player whose ball is the farthest from the hole is next to play. In some teams events, a player who is farthest from the hole may ask his or her partner who may be closer to the hole to play first. When all players of a group have completed the hole, the player or team with the best score on that hole has the honor, that is, the right to play first on the next tee.

Bunkers at Filton Golf Club,  Filton, Bristol, England. Photo by Adrian Pingstone, June 2004
Bunkers at Filton Golf Club,
Filton, Bristol, England.
Photo by Adrian Pingstone, June 2004
Many holes include hazards, namely bunkers (or sand traps), from which the ball is more difficult to play than from grass, and water hazards (lakes, ponds, rivers, etc). Special rules apply to playing balls that come to rest in a hazard which make it highly undesirable to play a ball into one. For example, a player must not touch the ground in a hazard with a club prior to playing a ball, not even for a practice swing.

A ball in a water hazard may be played as it lies or may be replaced by dropping another ball outside the water, but a penalty is incurred in the latter case.

Every hole is classified by its par, the theoretical number of strokes that an expert golfer should require for playing the ball into any given hole. The expert golfer is expected to reach the green in two strokes under par (in regulation) and then use two putts to get the ball into the hole. Many 18-hole courses have approximately four par-three, ten par-four, and four par-five holes. The total par of an 18-hole course is usually around 72.

Each player acts as marker for one other player in the group, that is, he or she records the score on a score card. In stroke play (see below), the score consists of the number of strokes played plus any penalty strokes incurred. Penalty strokes are not actually strokes but penal points that are added to the score for violations of rules or for making use of relief procedures in certain situations. To allow players of different proficiency to play against each other on equal terms handicap systems are used.

A handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur golfer’s ability. It can be used to calculate a so-called “net” score from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on equal terms. Handicaps are administrated by golf clubs or national golf associations. Handicap systems are not used in professional golf. Most touring professionals play several strokes per round better than scratch.

The two basic forms of playing golf are match play and stroke play (see our separate article about the Types of competition).

Welcome to the club !

See also:

Three Great Reasons to take up Golf
Four Ways to take your Golf Practice to the course
A good Thinking Head makes a Better Golfer
Health Tips for Buying Golf Shoes

Golf balls

1. Tips to Choose the Right Golf Balls for your Game

golf-balls-2bA good knowledge of a golf ball’s characteristics, such as compression, spin and distance can prove helpful in enhancing your strengths and masking your weaknesses on the golf course.

Golf balls are probably the most overlooked piece of equipment, both by novice players and high to medium handicappers.

It is not unusual to see golfers spend several hundreds of dollars on a driver (though they often can’t hit it at its performance level), while searching to save anything possible on golf balls. However, the physics of a golf shot is about materials absorbing energy and elastically returning it, involving both the club AND the golf ball. See also: Golf ball faqs >>

Before making your own best choice, remember that:

1. Distance doesn’t have to be hard.
2. Performance doesn’t have to be expensive.
3. Tour golf balls are not the top choice for every player.
4. Accomplished players should select their golf balls in function of the type of weather and golfing conditions.

1. 2-piece balls maximize distance and minimize spin. They are good for novice players.

2. with 3-piece performance balls you sacrifice a little distance off the tee but gain more control around the green.

3. 2-piece performance balls offer great length off the tee together with nearly the same characteristics of control of 3-piece performance balls.

4. 4-piece balls are recommended for low handicappers with faster swings and a perfect control of backspin. See: Golf ball facts >>

Whatever your choice, stick to it for a while to get used to it and develop some consistency in your play. However, if your game is fairly accurate, shooting in the 90s, it might make more sense to use different balls in function of the course and weather conditions. In that case, choose a performance ball for courses with very wide fairways and difficult greens. A low-spin two-piece ball is more suited to courses that feature narrow fairways and large, easy to approach greens.

Note that due to technological advances, the gap between 2- and 3-piece balls continues to narrow. See also: Golf ball facts >>

For more information about multilayered golf balls, low-spin balls, low compression balls, performance balls, distance balls and the difference between 2-piece, 3-piece and 4-piece balls, see: Golf ball facts and faqs >>


2. Our all-time favorite golf balls

Srixon Soft Feel Golf Balls (15-Pack)

The ideal ball for a smooth, slow and controlled swing.
The 344 dimple pattern and highly resilient Rabalon HR+ and Pana-Tetra blended ionomer cover provide greater energy transfer for more velocity, providing more distance and better feel for players with a lower clubhead speed at impact, and low spin launch conditions for all golfers.
More information:

Nike Mojo (Double Dozen)

There have been many versions of the original Mojo golf ball (disco, Mojo II, etc.)

With its 2 piece construction and low compression core, Mojo golf balls offer:

– Maximum distance for golfers with average swing speeds
– Softened Ionomer cover delivers a crisp look with a soft touch
– Aero-efficient dimples pack a wallop of lift and turbulence
– Minimal compression, maximum action
– Flies off the driver, sticks to the wedge
With a name meaning “magic power” this can only be a winner !
More information:

Srixon Men’s Q-Star Golf Balls

Best golf ball on the market for intermediate players (15+ handicappers), offering perfect combination of distance off the tee with less slice/hook. For lower handicappers, see the Z-star.
Srixon Men’s Q-Star Golf Balls
324 Advanced dimple pattern, all ability ball, offering distance of the tee and spin control around the green.
More info>>


Best golf ball on the market for intermediate players (15+ handicappers), offering perfect combination of distance off the tee with less slice/hook. For lower handicappers, see the Z-star below.




Srixon Z-star golf balls

Srixon Z-star
325 Aerodynamic Dimple Design produces a penetrating ball flight
More info>>


One of the only optic yellow golf balls at premium level (equivalent of the Titleist Pro V1, which only exists in white, though). This ultimate multi-layered golf ball offers superb feel and distance control thanks to its super soft, ultra thin Urethane cover.




See also:

1. Understanding the Compression Rate of a golf ball
2. Multilayered golf balls, distance golf balls, low-spin golf balls and performance golf balls
3. Golf Ball Dimples
4. Golf Info’s Pick of Trick & Novelty Balls
5. The Official Golf Ball Rules

The Complete History of Golf

(Part 2: The early European History)

It is generally agreed that the term golf was borrowed from Middle Dutch colf or colve (a stick or bat used in a ball game called kolven), and that it were the Scots who added the unique element to the game that differentiates it from all other club-and-ball sports, namely the hole. But where and when exactly golf originated is still a mystery and the problem of the missing link has not been solved yet, unless one admits the (plausible) asian origin of the game.
Some sport historians have suggested that golf evolved from several earlier sports involving a ball and a club or mallet, that pre-existed in Europe and the whole Mediterranean basin.

One of the most ancient mentions of such a sport dates from Middle Egypt (2,600 BC) The image below stems from the tomb of Kheti In Beni Hasan (a governor during the 11th Dynasty).

Image from the Tomb of Kheti (Beni Hasan BH 17) - 2600 B.C.
Image from the Tomb of Kheti (Beni Hasan BH 17) – 2600 B.C.

The tomb shows everyday scenes from the Middle Kingdom, with pleasures of music, dancing and games with depictions like the one below representing two persons playing a game with clubs and a round object – it is unclear whether the round object is a ball or a ring, but the shape of the sticks is very familiar-. The name of the game is unknown but the fact that it was pictorally represented seems to prove its popularity. Most probably, the game was “exported” by the Egyptians to the Mediterrenean area, at that time, a flourishing marketplace.

Athens National Museum - 1300 b.c.
Athens National Museum – 1300 b.c.
The ancient Greeks also had a stick-and-ball type of sport, probably adopted from the Egyptians. The picture below shows Greek athletes playing a game between field hockey and golf.


Later, the Roman developed a sport called “PAGANICA” or “Paganicus”, that was quite popular. Unfortunately, no images are known of the ancient Romans playing this game but the basic rules are more or less known. The game was played with a bent wooden stick and a ball made of leather (probably filled with feathers or with air). However, even if we can find some resemblance with the ancient golf balls, it seems that Paganica balls were bigger, in the range of 5,5 inches (15 cm) of diameter. The objective was to hit a pre-selected target (a tree, a rock or something similar) or, according to other sources, there were two teams playing in opposite directions like in Hockey. Most probably different versions (and names) of the game co-existed. The Roman scribe Catullas, for example, refers to a similar game called pangea….

What is sure is that as the Roman Empire and the Romans expanded towards the North of Italy and Northern Europe, Paganica was also introduced to these Northern countries. It probably became the ancient root of several other sports played with sticks (or clubs) and balls being described later.

A game called Bandy has its oldest record is a 13th century painted glass window in the Canterbury cathedral where a boy is holding a curved stick in one hand and a ball in the other. Shakespeare also mentionned Bandy in “Romeo and Juliet” – “The Prince expressly hath forbidden Bandying in the Verona streets”. The name of the game is derived from the Teutonic word “bandja” meaning a “curved stick”. The Irish equivalent of Bandy is called HURLEY.

gloucester-bRobert Browning in his “History of Golf” of 1955, suggests that golf is possibly an offshoot of the Celtic/Gaelic hurley and may have originated in a form of practice indulged in by hurley players journeying across country to play an “away” match – a theory of considerable merit.


One of these games was called “CAMBUCA” (or Cambuta) played in England in the 1300’s. Similarly to Paganica, this game was played with a bent club and with a leather ball (filled with feathers) . The scope of the game was to strike the ball till reaching a specific goal marked on the ground. Alternative sources describes this game as a competition between opponents with one attacking and one defending, even if, most probably, this rules belong to an Irish game of the 14th century called CAMANACHD. Its origin may come from the Celts game of “SHINTY” whose have also been lost.

Hurling, Shinty and Bandy have all been played on both grass and ice, but as the climate in Great Britain and Ireland is relatively mild the grass version dominated.

See also:
Asian origin of golf
Early Golf history in Europe and the whole Mediterranean basin
Chole, Mail, Kolven
Golf history from 1457 to 1847
Golf history from 1848 -1894
Golf history from 1895 – 1921
Golf history from 1922 – 1944

Improve your Swing

Golf Swing Basics

Stock Photo © sculpies
Stock Photo © sculpies


There are tons of books on how to execute a perfect swing, and thousands of videos on how to improve your current swing, as well as plethora of articles describing what to do or what not to do, when, why and how to do it.

We believe that too much information just creates a loss of focus on the few important things and – even worse – make the swing movement look like something mechanic and un-natural.

That is why we’ve condensed the swing improvement technique in 5 key steps. If you just keep these suggestions in mind, we ensure you that your swing will improve. You may not become Tiger Woods, but your swing will certainly gain in consistency and solidity. Additionally, we have picked what we consider the top three books on the swing to complement these key steps.


5 Key Steps to Improving your Swing

1. Check your grip

This has been said a thousand times, but it remains paramount for the whole swing motion. You should hold the club grip firmly but gently. Remember the “famous” metaphor: think of holding the club as if it were a bird, you don’t want it to fly away, but you don’t want to squeeze it either.


2. Be Fluid

The swing movement is a circular rotation in a smooth, rhythmic way, with the highest speed to be achieved when hitting the ball. There is nothing worse than decomposing the swing in a series of movements – like some teachers do. It does not harm to know the theory behind the swing, i.e. the key stages of the golf swing, as long as you forget about it as soon as you are on the golf course. Once you are on the golf course or at the driving range, the only thing you should remember is that the swing is a symmetric movement around the spine angle in a continuous fluid motion.

Before swinging, relax your arm and your shoulders….. IF you feel tense, just wait for a second and do some swing practice drills to get some fluidity in your swing movement.

In his book On Golf: Lessons from America’s Master Teacher Jim Flick puts the whole attitude of golfing in the right context. Finding the perfect swing is not based on fundemantals you most often read and hear about, but rather finding the one swing you are most comfortable with.


3. Don’t move your head !

Once you get the right grip and a fluid motion, you’ve done half of the job. The other half is about hitting the ball right and – to ensure this – THE key tip is to keep your head looking at the ball position on the ground even after impact. Looking at beginners golf, this is easily the Most Common mistake they commit.
Remember: do NOT move your head till the ball is on air!


4. Remember the swing plane

The swing in movement is, like mentioned before, a symmetric rotation of the body around the spine angle.
The most difficult part for many golfers is to understand and visualize what is meant by the “swing plane”. Watch the video below: it will give you a clear, visual explanation of what the golf plane is.

Also, you have to get the right plane. If too steep (too vertical), you will hit the ground before the ball or – if you hit the ball properly – you will loose distance as you gain “altitude”. If you hit it too horizontal, the risk is that you produce a hook shot. However, the majority of beginner golfers have a swing too vertical, hence, you’ll probably need to learn how to go more “horizontal”.


5. Target the bottom

The last, very common mistake, is that people target the ball while you have to target the bottom of the ball. Remember: the lower you target, the higher the ball will fly and the more consistent will be the shot.


Recommended books:

Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: the Modern Fundamentals of Golf  by Ben Hogan  More info>>
Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: the Modern Fundamentals of Golf
by Ben Hogan
More info>>


The basic, fundamental book on how to improve your swing is this one: “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf” by Ben Hogan.






How to improve your game without picture-perfect form
The Negotiable Golf Swing
by Joseph Laurentino
More info>>


For those of you who want to improve their swing without perfect-picture form, see: The negotiable swing.






Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect
Bob Rotella
More info>>







See also:

Improve Your Golf Swing by Focusing on Your Finish Position
Watching the pros on the PGA Tour and you can see a balanced finish position every time they tee off. Improve the finish position of your golf swing, and improve your golf swing…

How To Fix The Dreaded Slice
Most golfers dread the word Slice, but it can be prevented.

Types of Golf Courses

While no two courses are alike, many can be classified into one of the following broad categories: links, parkland and heathland. Recent inventions include desert courses, sand courses and snow courses.

The 17th Green on the Kauaii Marriott Resort Hotel\'s Golf course, looking out into the bay. Stock photo © boysenh.
The 17th Green on the Kauaii Marriott Resort Hotel\’s Golf course, looking out into the bay. Stock photo © boysenh.


1. Links courses

A links style course, sometimes referred to as a “Seaside links” is the most traditional type of golf course, of which some century-old examples have survived in England, Scotland and Ireland.

15th hole, Strandhill Golf Course, Strandhill, Ireland.
15th hole, Strandhill Golf Course, Strandhill, Ireland.

Located in coastal areas, on sandy soil, from which the sea has retired in recent geological times, often amid dunes, with few water hazards and few if any trees. Because of the lack of its moisture, the grass tends to have short blades with long roots. The wispy long grass in the rough makes play very difficult even in a good lie. “For the most part, lies are ‘tight’ and therefore unhelpful when there are problems ahead. Links turf is far different to ‘park’ grasses. It is usually hard and bare, which gives the ball bounce – something that has to be imagined and allowed for.” (from: Links Golf – The inside Story)

Links courses reflect both the nature of the scenery where the sport happened to originate, and the fact that only limited resources were available to golf course architects at the time, and any earth moving had to be done by hand, so it was kept to a minimum. The links were naturally undulating and extensive but of little agricultural value and thus suitable for this kind of use.

The challenges of links golf fall into two categories. Firstly the nature of the courses themselves, which tend to be characterised by uneven fairways, thick rough and small deep bunkers known as “pot bunkers”, that are hidden from sight, which makes them more daunting than normal.

Secondly, due to their coastal location many links courses are frequently windy. This affects the style of play required, favouring players who are able to play low accurate shots. As many links courses consist literally of an “outward” nine in one direction along the coast, and an “inward” nine which returns in the opposite direction, players often have to cope with opposite wind patterns in each half of their round.

Links courses drain well and provide a very firm golfing surface all year round, making it the preferred choice of most good golfers.

The Open Championship is always played on links courses, even though there are some celebrated courses which are not links, and this is one of the main things which differentiates it from the three major championships held in the United States. Strictly speaking, links courses must be on a coast. There are, for example, also some well known links courses outside the British Isles, at Pebble Beach, California (on the Pacific Ocean) and Whistling Straits in Wisconsin (on Lake Michigan).

However, links-style conditions can be duplicated on suitable ground, even hundreds of miles inland. One especially notable example of an inland links-style course is Sand Hills Golf Club, an much-acclaimed new layout in the Sand Hills of Nebraska.


2. Parkland courses

Leeds Castle Golf Photo by David Playford
Leeds Castle Golf
Photo by David Playford


Parkland courses are typical inland courses, often resembling traditional British parks, with narrower fairways, lawn-like fairways and many trees.


3. Heathland

Heath is defined as ‘a large open area, usually with sandy soil and scrubby vegetation, esp. heather.’ A Heatland course, thus, is a more open, less manicured inland course often featuring gorse and heather and typically less wooded than “parkland” courses.

However, many courses in Britain, for example Sunningdale and Liphook, are referenced to as heathland courses although they have an abundance of trees. The explanation is that neither of those courses had many trees when they were first laid out, but trees have been added later on as part of the strategy of the course or to provide shelter from the wind or the sun.


4. Desert courses

Desert courses are a rather recent invention, popular in parts of the USA and in the Middle East. They require heavy irrigation for maintenance of the turf, leading to concerns about the ecological consequences of excessive water consumption.

Elevated greens and trees are a frequent feature of desert course design. Even though much care has been taken to integrate golf into the desert in ways that benefit both the golfer and the environment, purists claim that desert courses violate the widely accepted principle of golf course architecture that an aesthetically pleasing course should require minimal alteration of the existing landscape.

Nevertheless, many players enjoy the unique experience of playing golf in the desert, because of the amazing variety of plants and animals species.


5. Sand courses

Golfers play on all-sand courses making the long game harder, but the short game easier.

Coober Pedy Golf course, South Australia. Stock photo © markrhiggins.
Coober Pedy Golf course, South Australia. Stock photo © markrhiggins.


The putting area usually consists of “browns”, a mixture of sand and oil, which is blended and rolled. Browns put slower, but truer. See also: The World’s toughest golf courses.


6. Snow or ice courses

Like desert courses and sand courses, a rather recent invention. The course being white instead of green, an orange (or brightly) colored ball is used. See also: World Ice Golf Championship.


See also:
The World’s toughest golf courses
The most extreme golf courses
World Ice Golf Championship