Golf is a sport in which a player, using many types of clubs including woods, irons, and putters, hits a ball into each hole on a golf course in the lowest possible number of strokes. Golf is one of the few ball games that does not use a standardized playing area; rather, the game is played on golf “courses”, each one of which has a unique design and typically consists of either 9 or 18 holes. Golf is defined in the Rules of Golf as “playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules”
The first game of golf for which records survive was played at Bruntsfield Links, in Edinburgh, Scotland, in A.D. 1456, recorded in the archives of the Edinburgh Burgess Golfing Society, now The Royal Burgess Golfing Society. The modern game of golf spread from Scotland and has now become a worldwide game, with golf courses in the majority of affluent countries.
Golf competition is generally played as stroke play, in which the individual with the lowest number of strokes is declared the winner, or as match play with the winner determined by whichever individual or team posts the lower score on the most individual holes during a complete round.
Golf as a spectator sport has become increasingly popular, with several different levels of professional and amateur tours in many regions of the world. Players such as Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sörenstam have become well-recognized sports figures across the world. Sponsorship has also become a huge part of the game and players often earn more from their sponsorship contracts than they do from the game itself.