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Meet the Golf Course


2 of 9

The Golf Hole
Golf - Hole Overhead View

An overhead view of the first golf hole at the Wentworth Club in England. The teeing ground is at the top, the putting green at the bottom, with the fairway (mowed in a "striping" pattern) connecting the two and showing golfers the path to the hole.

David Cannon / Getty Images
The term "hole" has two meanings in golf. One is the, well, hole in the ground on each putting green - the "cup" into which we are all trying to place our golf balls.

But "hole" also refers to the entirety of each tee-to-green unit of a golf course. As noted on the previous page, a full-size golf course contains 18 holes - 18 teeing grounds that lead, via the fairway, to 18 putting greens.

A golf hole generally comes in three varieties:

  • Par-3: Up to 250 yards for men and 210 yards for women
  • Par-4: 251 to 470 yards for men and 211 to 400 yards for women
  • Par-5: 471 yards to 690 yards for men and 401 to 575 yards for women
Par-6 holes are sometimes encountered, too, but they are scarce.

The par for each hole is the number of strokes it is expected an expert golfer will need to complete play of that hole, which always includes two putts. So a par-3 hole is one short enough that the expert golfer is expect to hit the green with his or her tee shot, and take two putts. (The yardages listed above are guidelines, not rules.)

A golf hole always begins at the teeing ground, and always ends at the putting green. In-between is the fairway, and outside these areas is the rough. Hazards - bunkers and water hazards - might show up on any hole, too. Over the next few pages, we take a closer look at these elements of golf holes and golf courses.

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