Although it may not be critically important when you are just learning to play golf, sooner or later you will need to understand the various parts of the golf course. This article will briefly describe how to identify each part of the course, what each part is called and how each part will impact your game.
The Clubhouse – Typically adjacent to the parking lot you may find a Clubhouse. This along with a few storage and maintenance sheds are the only building you will find on most golf courses. Clubhouses will range anywhere from a room with a cash register to elaborate buildings with restaurants, patios and beautiful fountains.
The clubhouse will be surrounded by the first tee, ninth green, tenth tee, and eighteenth green. This is where the terms “front nine” and “back nine” come from. Although the terms do not make sense on most courses, the terms have stuck and the holes 1 through 9 are called the front nine and holes 10 through 18 are called the back nine.
The clubhouse will at a minimum have a snack bar selling sodas, hot dogs or a full menu of items and will very often be the spot where you take a quick break “at the turn” which refers to your transition from the front nine to the back.
The Pro Shop – The clubhouse will almost always contain a Pro Shop and this is where we get down to some real golfing business. For a beginning golfer, the primary purpose of the Pro Shop is to pay for your round of golf and golf cart. But there is typically much, much more to a Pro Shop. Pro Shops are very often filled with golf stuff for sale, everything from golf balls to golf clubs and everything in between.
The First Tee – Once you have visited the Pro Shop and paid for your round of golf, you will want to grab a Gatorade from the snack bar and head to the tee area to get your golf cart. Organize your golf clubs on the back of the cart and then head to the first tee which should be in the general area.
Occasionally you will be greeted by “The Starter” when you arrive a the fist tee. The job of the starter is to ensure you are getting to the tee in the right order and will instruct you when it is safe to begin play. For example, you should always allow the group in front of you to get onto the green before teeing off. If there are four players in the group ahead of you, all four players should be on the green before proceeding. The starter will guide you in this regard.
For most beginning golfers the first tee can be the most nerve-racking. There are several reasons for this to be the case, not the least of which is that there are generally strangers watching you hit the ball. Additionally, you haven’t quite gotten into a groove yet, so there’s no telling how well you will hit the ball off the first tee, our suggestion is to just relax and swing naturally.
The Tenth Tee – Very close to the first tee will be the tenth tee. As we mentioned before after you complete the front nine. Buying a hot dog and enjoying every bite while reminiscing about how well I played (or not so well I played) on the front nine, is one of my favorite things in life.
The Fairway – The fairway on a golf course is a closely cut (mowed) strip of grass that connects the tee with the green. There should be a very clearly defined path created by the fairway and it will be your objective to stay on this path. Herein lies one of the greater challenges in golf, landing on the fairway. The fairway is designed to be the optimal place to hit a golf shot. The closely cut grass allows the ball to sit up nicely on the top of the grass, this is often called a “perfect lie”.
You may also notice that the fairway is marked with divots, where other golfers have hit balls and left a chunk of missing grass. It just doesn’t seem fair though when you hit a great shot and end up in someone else’s divot, so we recommend that you move the ball a place it on fresh grass. after all, we’re not professionals here, right?
The Rough – Just to either side of the fairway is what is called “the rough”. And as the name describes, the rough is a taller or “rougher” cut of grass then the fairway. The taller grass allows the golf ball to settle down deeper into the grass and makes hitting a clean shot much more difficult.
This is what makes the fairways a much nicer place to be after the tee shot. Anyway, now that we are in the rough we will need to make the most of our situation. BGT highly recommends that you only use irons from the rough, particularly if you are a beginning golfer. woods tend to have much larger clubfaces and can collect more grass at the point of impact, making them a much more difficult club to hit from the rough.
The Woods – This is the “bad” kind of woods and not the driver kind, we are talking about here. And unless you are playing in the middle of “cornfield country”, you will likely be in the woods at some point. The woods can be a precarious place to hit a golfball, trust me I know what I’m talking about here.