Each golf course provides a different set of challenges depending on the design and layout of the course. Being aware of and understanding the basic parts of a golf course, such as greens, fairways and bunkers, can better prepare golfers for success on the links.
The tee is where each hole begins. The tee is located in the tee box, the close-cut area of grass at the beginning of each hole. Most golf courses have several tee boxes for players to choose depending on an individual’s skill level. The tees closer to the fairway are reserved for women and novices, with more skilled players likely choosing to hit from the back tees.
The fairway is the area of short grass between the tee box and the green. Finding the fairway with drives is key for being a successful golfer. Hitting approach shots out of the fairway allows players to spin the ball more than they would hitting from the rough. The way a golfer chooses to hit a shot from the fairway can change depending on the kind of grass on the course. Bent grass fairways tend to make larger divots and can make hitting fat shots easier, while other types of grass can make it more difficult to get the ball in the air.
The rough is the longer-cut area of grass surrounding the fairway and green. To be successful, avoid the rough, which is normally allowed to grow longer the farther it is located from the greens and fairways. Hitting from the rough means players must use more club than they normally would to reach the green. To hit from the rough more easily, play the ball slightly back in the stance and grip down on the club a little. That will help the clubface make direct contact with the ball.
Greens, the most closely mowed areas of grass on the course, are where the hole is located and players putt. Greens can vary depending on the conditions of the course. For example, in hot, dry conditions, a green will play faster than usual and approach shots will be less likely to hold on the green. In wet conditions, the greens will be slow and approach shots will stick. When reading greens before a putt, pay attention to the highest point on the surface--putts will usually roll away from that point.
Hazards are lakes, ponds, creeks or other areas on the course marked with red or yellow stakes. If a ball is found in a hazard, it can be played. However, if the ball cannot be played, the golfer must take a one-stroke penalty and either rehit or drop near the hazard, but not closer to the hole. Sand traps also are considered hazards, but the golfer can hit out of them with no penalty.