In terms of the essence of the game, a golf course is a collection of a certain number of holes². A standard, “full-sized” golf course comprises 18 holes. Usually it is divided into two halves of 9 holes. Shorter courses with only 9 holes are also popular.
Here and there you can find courses with 27 holes which consist of 3 separated parts with 9 holes each. Golfers can play there three various 18-hole rounds: holes 1-18, holes 10-27 or holes 19-27 + 1-9.
Courses with a other number of holes (12 or 6) are less common.
A golf course (and each hole) is made up of the five areas: teeing areas, penalty areas, bunkers, putting greens and the rest called general area. These areas are presented more precisely in description of hole.
The main two parameters of a golf course are:
– par for a course – the sum of pars of all holes, and
– total length – the sum of the length of all holes measured from tees to the middle of greens.
The typical par for a regulation, 18-hole course is 68 to 74 (most common 72, 71 or 70).
The typical total length of a 18-hole course is between 5000 and 7500 yards (4500 and 6800 meters). The total length depends on the set of tees selected for the round. Due to the Rules of Handicapping it is strongly recommended to avoid “any association of tee name and design with gender or age “. For recommendations on selecting a set of tee for a player, see the subpage Appropriate Course Length.
The difficulty of playing the course from individual tees is determined by the numerical values: Course Rating and Slope Rating. These values are determined during the course rating procedure. For more details about ratings see subpage Course Rating.
Usually a golf course has also practice areas designed for training and warm-up before a round:
– driving range
– practice putting green
– practice bunker, chipping green etc.
update: February 2021