A Complete Guide To Golf
Whether it’s the world famous golfer Tiger Woods or the extremely talented Sharmila Nicolett, Golf has made a popular mark in the field of global sports and oozes with elegance, class and style!
In a Nutshell
The way we understand the modern game of golf today originated in the 1400’s in Scotland before it spread its way to England and other parts of Europe. A game that consists mainly of a golf club and ball requires great persistence and skill on behalf of the player who’s prime objective is to hit the ball in as few shots as possible in order to shoot it in the hole.
There are several international championships such as the PGA Tours and World Golf Championship that continues to support and exalt this game on all levels across the world.
In India, golf is a highly popular sport and the trend has only been in the upwards direction in the last decade or so. Professional Indian golfers like Anirban Lahiri, Jyoti Randhawa, and Sharmila Nicolett have added pride and prestige to the professional Indian golf circle.
What is Golf?
Golf is a classic and popular sport that involves the use of a club and ball. Even though golf is one of the few sports where a standardized playing area is not mandatory, a traditional game of golf is played on a course with an arranged progression of 9 or 18 holes which the respective player is supposed to target in order to gain points.
PGA, which is also known as Professional Golf Tours is the prime governing body for the sport and organizes all international golf tours across the world. Since golf is considered to be an expensive sport, its popularity has not hit the highest peak in India yet, although various people still play the game with immense fervour and zeal.
In fact, there are several national championships that uphold the sport’s legacy, such as the Professional Golf Tour of India and the Indian Golf Union Amateur Championship. Besides this, there are several distinguished and noteworthy Indian golfers like Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa, Anirban Lahiri, and Sharmila Nicolette who have carved a distinct niche for themselves on a national as well as international level.
A Brief History and Overview of the sport:
- There is much debate that surrounds the origin of golf, but according to most archaeological and historical facts, the first traces of the game can be found in Scotland during the middle ages.
- Apocryphally, a game that was played by the Dutch on February 26th 1297 is considered to be the closest to what professional golf is today. This game was played with a leather stick and ball, and the winner was the player who managed to hit the ball with the least number of strokes into a target several yards away.
- According to some scholars, a game similar to golf was also played in 17th century Netherlands as well.
- The first official documentation of golf in Scotland appeared in a 1457 Act of the Scottish Parliament, where an edict was issued by King James II which prohibited anyone from playing the sport. Additional bans were imposed on the sport, as it was considered to be a non-profitable sport.
- This however changed in the year 1603, when James VI of Scotland succeeded to the throne in England, as that he and his sons renewed and restored the love for golf across Scotland, and other parts of Europe.
- Other countries including United States of America and Japan also followed the trend and imbibed golf as a professional sport. Several golf clubs were established, and golf soon became a sport that was equated with the rich and the famous.
- In India, the Royal Calcutta Golf club is the oldest club that patronizes this sport. It was established in 1829.
- It was not till the 18th century that golf gained prominence as an official sport in India. Several golf clubs and courses mushroomed during this time period.
- The Royal Bombay Golf Club was established in 1842, followed by the Bangalore Golf Club which was established in 1876.
- The various golf clubs that were established between the 18th and 19th century became a historical landmark for various states due to their cultural and environmental uniqueness. Some of the prestigious golf courses are of an extremely high altitude, example Gulmarg, Kashmir which is at an altitude of 2700 meters.
- In December 1955, a group of Indian golfers got together and formed the Indian Golf Union, which then became the primary controlling body for the sport in India.
- Till the year 2016, the Indian Golf Union has been affiliated with the World Amateur Golf Council, and has taken several initiatives to promote the sport and encourage players throughout the country.
- The year 1958 is an important year in the history of Indian golf as the national golf team severed itself from the Royal Calcutta Golf Club and embarked on independent championships and tournaments.
- The most significant and important annual golf event for the Indian team is the India Open Golf Championship, which was first played in the year 1964.
- In 1982, India was chosen as the host country for the most prestigious Asian Games.
Before You start playing:
- The overall objective of the game is extremely simple, wherein a player has to hit the golf ball in as few shots as possible and get it from the Tee’ to the ‘Green, and ultimately in the hole. The best shot is considered when a golfer hits the ball, and it lands in the hole in the first shot.
- The ‘hole’ refers to both the physical hole marked by a flag into which the ball must sink, and also the whole area from the tee point to the green. This is considered as one unit of the course, with a standard course consisting of 18 separate holes, all of which are played one by one.
- The usual scoring method in golf is referred to as the ‘stroke’ play, where the total number of shots a player takes to get the ball in the hole are summed up to make a cumulative score. At a novice level, this is usually played over one round which consists of 18 holes, while professional golfers play four rounds. For instance, the golf tournament may start on a Thursday and end on a Sunday.
- The overall score is expressed in terms of under or over par. Par is the number of shots a golfer would expect to complete an entire hole in. For a player, being under par is more beneficial as that is an indication of the fact that the player completed the hole in fewer shots than anticipated.
- The golf ball must be hit using the standard golf clubs from the start of each hole to the green, and then ultimately into the hole. This is marked by a flag.
- Players strike the ball in turn with the outermost away from the hole going first. At the beginning of a new hole, the player who takes the least shots on the preceding hole needs to go first.
- The penalty for a lost ball is one stroke, and this is when a ball is struck out of the course boundaries or into water bodies. The player gets five minutes to search for the ball.
- The player is allowed to use up to 14 clubs in a traditional game of golf.
- During the game, a player can seek advice from his caddy or partner, but no one else.
- The ball needs to be played or struck in the exact position it is found. It cannot be moved around, and its position cannot be manipulated.
- On the putting green, a player can mark, clean or lift his ball so long it is kept back in its former position.
Golf players traditionally play individually, although a professional and large scale tournament consists of around 80 to 160 players who play in groups of 3 or 4.
As far as the equipment is concerned, the gear is highly regulated and specifications have to be exact. Right from the golf clubs, to the size and shape of the grooves, weight, and aerodynamics, everything has to be of precise measure. The measurement requirements however vary between different tournaments.
A player is not allowed to use more than 14 golf clubs during a game, and golf balls are extremely dense and heavy in weight, and cannot bounce off easily. Golf courses vary in their overall size but consist of the same features such as tees, greens, fairway and hazards.
Who are the governing bodies for Golf?
The IGF, which is also known as the International Golf Federation is the governing body for gold on a global scale. This organization is also recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and has two membership categories that represent the administration of golf internationally. These are:
- 132 National Federation Members from 126 Countries
- 22 Professional Member, which mostly consists of professional Golf Tours and Professional Golfers Association.
The PGA, or the Professional Golfers Association is the sole organizer or governing body for the main professional golf tours that take place in the United States and North America. It was established around the early part of 1900’s, and has since then overlooked and organized all the major international golf tours.
In India, the Indian Golf Union takes all major initiatives to drive this sport within the country on a national as well as an international level. Besides this, India also has the Women Golf Association of India which encourages female players and organizes small as well as large scale tournaments that are only for female golfers in India.
On an International Level
International PGA Tours– Large scale and highly competitive world tours are organized in close collaboration with the IGF. The tours take part on an annual basis where all the top golfers compete against each other in groups of 3 or 4.
World Golf Championship– Which is organized under the larger umbrella of the PGA, is a group of 4 annual events for professional golfers. This event first started in 1999, and till 2016 is one of the most prestigious events for any golfer.
Professional Golf Tour Of India– This tour which is organized in compliance with the PGA, was first played in 2006, and is a highly prestigious tournament for all professional golfers in India. The last season was played in 2014 where professional Indian golfer Shankar Das was the winner. Prior to this, astounding Indian golfers like Anirban Lahiri, and Ashok Kumar have dominated the score chart with their tremendous skill and performance on the course.
Amateur Golf Championship of India– The Indian Golf Union organizes this tournament every year, and the prime motive of this championship is to encourage the sport amongst those who are starting out in their professional golf careers. The 2015 winner for this tournament was the highly talented Priyanshu Singh.
All Indian Ladies Amateur Championship– Women have truly carved their name in this sport, and Sharmila Nicollet who is one of India’s most talented and inspiring golfers has bagged 11 professional wins and takes part in all major events and tournaments across Indian and beyond. This championship is to encourage Indian women to take part in the sport and to carve their own distinct niche.
Anirban Lahiri– One of India’s claim to fame in golf, Anirban Lahiri is a popular Indian golfer who as of 2016 plays on the European Tour, Asian Tour and the PGA Tour. Lahiri learned how to play golf at a young age of 8 under the guidance of his father. His professional career with golf started in the year 2007, and he has had a total of 18 professional wins, out of which 2 were for the European Tour, 7 for the Asian Tour, and 11 for other leagues and championships. Lahiri hails from Bangalore, and has been a real source of inspiration for all young and aspiring golfers in India.
Jyoti Randhawa– Our list of famous Indian golfers would be incomplete without this well known name. Jyoti Randhawa is a vintage golfer who was ranked in the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking various times between the years 2004 to 2009. His professional career with golf kick started in 1994, and since then he has had 10 professional wins. Besides being listed as one of the best golfers worldwide, Randhawa has made many team appearances as well which include the Alfred Dunhill Cup, the World Cup, and the Royal Trophy.
Sharmila Nicolett – Adding another feather of pride to Indian golf is the aggressive and extremely talented Sharmila Nicolett who till the year 2016 has had 11 professional wins. Nicolett is half Indian and half French, but lives in Bangalore, India. She realized her profound love for golf at the age of 11, and won her first tournament at 15. She currently plays for the Women’s Golf Association Of India and is one of the most inspiring athletes for young women across India who are keen to take up the sport on a professional level.
Jeev Milkha Singh– Another popular face in the Indian golf arena is the stupendously talented Jeev Milkha Singh. He was the first Indian golfer to play from India in the European tour in the year 1998, and has won 4 events on the European Tour. Besides this, he was also the first Indian golfer to break the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking in 2006. Milkha Singh has received the Civilian Honour of the Padma Shri in 2007, and has a total of 20 professional wins till the year 2016. Singh hails from the vibrant city of Chandigarh, and is truly an iconic figure when it comes to professional Indian golfers, and besides making a mark in his own country, he has also done India proud on international levels.
If your child possesses an immaculate talent for Golf, then you must definitely encourage their passion. At YoGems, we help you get in touch with famous experts and coaches who can guide you further in this sport.