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Meet the Golf Course

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What is a Golf Course?
Golf Course - Overhead View

An overhead view of the South golf course at Torrey Pines shows multiple holes running through the cliffside setting.

Donald Miralle / Getty Images
What is a golf course? It's where we go to play golf, of course! The official definition under the Rules of Golf is this: "The 'course' is the whole area within any boundaries established by the Committee." But if you're a beginner, that probably means nothing to you.

So: Golf courses are collections of golf holes. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, and a "full-sized" golf course contains 18 holes. The golf course includes elements of the holes such as teeing grounds, fairways and putting greens, plus rough and all other areas that are within the boundaries of the golf course.

Over the following pages of this article we'll introduce you to those different parts that make up the whole of a golf course.

An 18-hole golf course typically occupies around 100 to 200 acres of land (older courses tend to be more compact that newer courses). Courses of nine holes in length are also common, and 12-hole courses are being built, too.

A full-size, or "regulation" golf course, ranges from (typically) 5,000 to 7,000 yards in length, meaning that is the distance you cover as you play all the holes from tee to green.

The "par" for a golf course is the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to need to complete play, typically 69 to 74, with par-70, par-71 and par-72 most common for 18-hole courses. Most of us aren't expert golfers, however, so "regular" golfers might need 90, 100, 110, 120 strokes or more to complete a golf course.

There are also "par-3 courses" and "executive courses," both of which are comprised of shorter holes that take less time (and strokes) to play.

The holes on a golf course are numbered 1 through 18, and that is the order in which they are played.

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