Hole – two meanings of the term


The first meaning of a hole

A hole¹ is a well/cup/hole on a putting green, where the flagstick stands. It is 4¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101,6 mm) deep.

Hole on the putting green

During the COVID-19 pandemic, National Federations have temporarily modified the requirements for hole¹ in the Rules of Golf to minimize the risk of contamination.
More about the COVID-19 rules …


The second meaning of a hole

A hole² is an unit of a golf course. According to the Rules of Golf, a hole consists of the following parts:
– teeing areas,
– penalty areas,
– bunkers,
– putting green, and
– general area

Hole - an unit of a golf course.


Par and length

The par for each hole² is the number of strokes it is expected scratch golfer needs to complete play of that hole, which always includes two putts. For example, on a par-4 hole, a scratch player is expected to hit the green with his (her) second shot and hole out in two putts. Rules of Handicapping recommend ranges of the hole length appropriate to the par.

par vs length of hole



When playing a hole, the player starts the game from the teeing area and ends by placing the ball inside the hole on the putting green. There are usually multiple teeing areas at each hole. They are designed for players of various abilities.
more about teeing areas …
more about putting greens …

Usually there is a fairway between a teeing area and a green, and some elements created to make it difficult to play (hazards): penalty areas and bunkers. Cross-play penalty areas are indicated as yellow penalty areas, and areas parallel to the line of play are indicated as red areas.
more about penalty areas …
more about bunkers …

A fairway and other areas with grass or other vegetation constitute the general area. Fairways are the routes between teeing areas and putting greens. Short mowed grass facilitates second and subsequent shots. Outside the fairway the grass is moved taller and called “rough”.
Some areas of the golf course are covered with unmaintained grass or bushes. Course rating procedures call these areas “extreme rough”.
more about a general area …

The average grass cutting height is:
– green                       1/8 – 3/16 in. (3-5 mm)
– apron and collar   1/4 – 3/8 in. (6-10 mm)
– tee box                    1/4 – 3/8 in. (6-10 mm)
– fairway                    3/8 – 1/2 in. (10-12 mm)
– semi rough             1 – 1,5 in. (25-38 mm)
– rough                       2 – 6 in. (50-150 mm)


Special Zones on a hole

Additional special zones may be marked on the course independently of the five basic areas defined by the Rules. They are designed to protect parts of the course or help golfers in difficult situations. They can be part of one or more defined areas of the course. More details can be found on the following pages:
ground under repair …
no play zone …
dropping zone …


Hole in birdie book

Courses often publish birdie books where all holes are shown and accurately described. Golfers can find there all the distances to key points, hazards, ambushes as well as local Pro recomendations. An example of a hole description in a birdie book is shown below.

Golf hole in birdie book



back to: Golf  Course

update: March  2021