An Anatomy of the Golf Course

Golf Course

While golf is a highly regarded sport with a storied history to boot, it is also one which has been waning in popularity in recent years. Perceptions of a steep learning curve and inaccessibility to play are rife – but thankfully, organisations such as Modest! Golf exist to turn the tide and re-engage younger people in the sport. With a younger potential player-base getting re-energised to the idea of taking up golf, being able to understand the basic anatomy of a golf course before setting foot on one can be a great head-start into the sport. What follows is a breakdown of the average golf course, feature by feature.

Golf Hole

Everyone knows the extreme basics of golf: drive the golf ball into the hole in as few shots as possible. The term ‘golf hole’ does not refer specifically to that hole, though. A ‘golf hole’ encompasses an individual stretch of play: a tee ground, fairway, green, and hole at the very least. A golf course is a collection of holes, traditionally 18, which are played sequentially.

Tee Ground

The tee ground, or tee box, is the place at which you take your first swing, otherwise known as a drive. A tee is used to elevate the golf ball above the grass, allowing you to drive it up and away, as far down the field as you can. You should use a golf driver to drive your first shot, as drivers can achieve the highest speeds and most distance. In terms of taking your drive, your tee is placed directly between two flag markers in the tee ground, or up to two club lengths behind.


The fairway is the lawned ground between the tee ground and the green. Fairway grass is generally kept under 25mm in height, allowing the ball to be discoverable and allowing for relatively easy swings straight from the grass. The fairway indicates the general direction in which you should be swinging, creating a course of sorts from tee ground to green. It is surrounded by the rough, which is simply grass cut to a higher height – and which can present new difficulties when swinging.

Bunkers and Water Hazards

The bunker is a trap of sorts, which can frustrate play for careless or unlucky golfers. A bunker is a sand pit, significantly recessed into the golf hole at strategic points in or beside the fairway. Poor shots can land in bunkers, costing players valuable points attempting to extricate their ball from the obstacle.

Water hazards such as rivers and lakes are also common on golf holes, with potential penalties for landing your ball in them – though the term ‘hazard’ was retired in 2019 to enable more conscientious play from casual players.

Green and Hole The green is the final stage of the golf hole: a manicured area of grass containing the hole to which you have been aiming. Otherwise known as the ‘putting green’, this is the area where you make your final shots to complete the hole. Using a putter in this area is key here, providing crucial precision and control.