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Having the right golf ball is important. There are two basic types of balls (spin and distance) and two basic ball coverings (balata and surlyn). This set of tips will explain them.
As its name dictates, a spin ball is designed to spin. These balls have 3 parts to them:
A central core (liquid, most of the time)
A cover made of a thin, soft material called balata
A distance ball, made for longer shots, has a much harder core and a harder cover. The core is made of a firm synthetic material, and the cover is a hard durable material called surlyn. This combination allows the ball to travel greater distances.
There’s a popular myth that says more dimples on a golf ball means a higher trajectory. This isn’t true. The average golf ball has between 350 and 450 dimples, and this number doesn’t make any difference in the path your ball takes. Trajectory is actually determined by the dimple’s depth and not the number.
The game of golf seems to have a language of its own. This next set of tips will give you some common golf terms and their definitions.
Par is the number of strokes a player should take to complete a round. It’s calculated by yardage and then gives you 2 strokes at the green. For instance, a par 5 hole gives you three strokes to get on the green, and then two putts to get your ball in the hole.
A tee is normally a wooden or plastic peg that the ball is placed on for hitting the first shot of each hole. Originally this was a pile of sand used to elevate the ball for driving.
According to the official golf rules, the green is the whole golf course. However, it more popularly refers to the putting surface at the end of each hole. Greens vary in shape and size, but most are oval or oblong in shape.
The fairway is the area that runs between the tee and green of a golf hole. This area is well maintained so the ball will move well on it. The grass on the fairway is usually cut at a height from 3/8 of an inch to a half-inch.
Handicap is a number that represents how well a golfer plays. This number is the number of strokes a player may deduct from his actual score to adjust his scoring ability to the level of another golfer. The lower a golfer’s handicap, the better the golfer is.
Most shots from the fairway will scrape off the top of the turf where the ball was sitting. A divot is the turf that is scraped up, and the scarred area in the fairway where the turf had been. It is polite to replace and stomp down the turf afterwards.
Lie has two meanings:
Where the ball lays. A common expression would be a good lie, which means the ball is on a great piece of grass. A bad lie, would mean it’s on a rough piece of grass, or a hazard.
How many strokes it took to get the ball where it sits.
The position a golfer takes as he or she stands over the ball, ready to hit it. The club must be grounded (touching the ground) for a golfer to be considered at address.
A hazard is anything on a golf course designed to obstruct play. These hazards can be:
A flagstick is a movable marker to show the location of the hole. Many courses will color code the flags on flagsticks to tell you if the hole is near the front, center, or back of the green.
Fore! is what you yell if your shot is in danger of hitting or landing by another player or group of players on the course. You yell fore! to warn players to watch out.
You won’t find this is in an official rule book, but when you’re playing a friendly game of golf, sometimes you or someone else will swing and miss, or a make really bad shot. A mulligan allows you to take that swing over without penalty.