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The Greatest Shots in Golfing History

In the last part in our series on golf stroke mechanics, we take a look at some of the sport’s most jaw-dropping shots. Graeme McDowell’s infamous Albatrous scored at Valderrama’s 17th hole in 2007 will be remembered by many golf fans. Not an easy hole to begin with, to make an Albatrous here was sensational, bringing McDowell to the top of the leader board. Had the shot been off by five yards in either direction, it would have spelled the disaster. McDowell struck the ball beautifully, with perfect bounce, straight into the cup. Shaun Michael’s approach shot at 18th hole of the 2003 PGA was one for the history books. The player was under immense pressure at the time when he pulled this one out of the bag, leaving the ball just a couple of inches from the cup. Possibly one of the most memorable shots of the 21st Century was Tiger Wood’s chip shot at the 16th during the 2005 Masters. It is believed by many in the sport to be an all-time great in terms of accuracy. The shot gained Woods several very lucrative deals with...

Golf: Types of Stroke

Following on from last week’s post on golf mechanics, here we take a look with amateur golfer Fahad Al-Rajaan at the different types of golf strokes, namely the pitch, the chip and the putt. The Pitch The pitch stroke is typically played with a pitching wedge, sand wedge or utility wedge, specially designed to strike the ball high from a short distance, typically 40-50 yards or closer. The Chip The chip stroke is adopted for short range shots, generally under 40 yards around the green. Any club may be used, though there are specialist chippers on the market, with wedges and short irons the most common. The aim of a chip is to get the ball to land safely on the green and let it roll towards the hole. The Putt Putts are used for tapping the ball closer to or into the hole from the green or its fringe. A special putter club is often used by players. They adjust their putt to fit environmental factors such as the slope of the green and distance to the hole. The face of the putter starts square in line with the target. The club is swung back and forth in a straight line like a pendulum. Many golfers adopt the tactic of aiming to hit the ball 10% past the hole. Others look at the hole when putting instead of the...

Golf Stroke Mechanics

The term “golf stroke mechanics” refers to the means by which golf players make decisions in executing a shot, for example, selecting the appropriate club. It consists of two stages: pre-stroke, i.e. the golfer selecting their club and which stance to adopt, and the stroke itself. The golf stroke is a complex motion. There is much debate as to what constitutes a good swing. Nesbit and Serrano suggest in Work and Power Analysis of the Golf Swing that mathematicians and scientists have studied the process and come up with various equations to help convey the complexity of the perfect swing. Most golfers agree that a consistent and successful swing requires precise mechanics and timing, from the position of one’s fingers and the grip to the movement and position of the feet. At any moment during the swing something could go wrong, resulting in a missed hit. To achieve the perfect swing, a player should start off by positioning his/herself in line with the flag. When approaching the ball, a good trick is to pick out a small stone, broken tee or leaf which is in line with the flag you are aiming at. The player may find it helpful to picture a line between these two reference points. They should then align their club with these reference points, standing parallel to this imaginary line. By following these steps, the player is optimally orientated to take their swing. It is important that the player grips the club with their left hand correctly. They should ensure that the club is naturally on the ground behind the golf ball, placing the club...

Golf Equipment

Golf equipment covers an almost inexhaustible list of paraphernalia used in the sport. Fahad Al Rajaan, prominent Kuwaiti businessman, is a follower of the sport. As a keen amateur golfer, Al Rajaan is interested in the history of the game. From bags to balls; carts to clubs, here we take a look at some of the most important items used in golf. Golf Balls Early golf balls were made of beech and other hard woods, with leather-skinned balls stuffed with feathers (known as “featheries”) being introduced to the game in the 14th Century. In the mid-19th Century, a new substance called “gutta percha” (a type of latex derived from sapodilla tree of East Asia) was used to produce a new type of golf ball, called “gutties”. Gutties had similar flight characteristics to featheries, though were much less expensive. In the late 19th Century, dimple patterns were introduced to golf balls (known as “brambles” for their similarity to the blackberry). Brambles were replaced by “meshies” in the early 20th Century, when golf ball manufacturers began to experiment with mesh skins, creating recessed patterns on the surface of the ball. The design used by Fahad Al Rajaan and fellow golfers today was patented early in the 20th Century, but didn’t take off until the 1940s. Golf Clubs A golfer will carry several clubs throughout a match, though is permitted to carry no more than fourteen according to official golf rules. There are three types of golf club: Irons. Putters. Woods. Players often use covers to protect their club heads from bad weather and from striking each other whilst in the bag....

Golf: The Rules of the Game

The sport of golf is regulated by the R&A, a 2004 spin off of St Andrews’ Royal and Ancient Golf Club in collusion with the United States Golf Association. The rules of the sport are internationally standardised. They are set up, as stated on the back of the official golf rule book, to ensure that players play the ball where it lies, playing the course as they find it, or where neither is possible players do what is fair. Golf has strict regulations regarding the status of amateurs. Any player who has ever played for money or received payment in exchange for giving instruction is no longer an amateur and is barred from competing in amateur competitions. Amateur golfers may, however, receive expenses in compliance with strict guidelines as well as non-cash prizes within the prescribed limits set out in the rules of amateur status. Penalties Penalties are made in certain situations. Golf penalties count towards a player’s final score as though they were extra strokes. Swings are added where rules are impinged, or for a player hitting the ball into an unsalvageable situation, e.g. a lake. A “hit out” or lost ball incurs a one stroke penalty. Where a golfer’s equipment, or the removal of a loose impediment moves the ball, a one stroke penalty is again inflicted. Where a golfer hits the wrong ball, this incurs a penalty of two strokes. Though most penalties are stroke penalties, some infractions can result in disqualification, for example in the case of cheating (e.g. signing for a lower score) or impingements upon the golf rules leading to impropriety. R&A regulate...

The History of Golf

The origins of the sport of golf have been the subject of a great deal of confusion and argument. Many believe that the modern day game of golf hails from a sport which was played in the Middle Ages in Scotland. Golf only grew in international popularity in the latter part of the 1800s. It is a favourite of Kuwaiti Fahad Alrajaan. The game slowly spread across Britain and then the territories of the British Empire as well as the United States of America. A game similar to golf is recorded as being played in Loenen aan de Vecht on 26th February 1297. It was a Dutch game played with a leather ball and a stick. In order to win, a player had to hit a target, positioned several hundred yards away, with the ball in the least number of strokes. Some sport historians cite that a game was also played in the 17th Century Netherlands involving hitting a small ball into a hole which predates documented history of the sport in Scotland. Flemish poet Jacob van Maerlant refers to the game in his 1261 manuscript as a ball game which is played with a club. Maerlant’s reference is the first known reference to the sport of golf. In the early 1300s, the game of “colf” caused a great furore in Brussels and was eventually banned. Those caught playing were subjected to a 20 shilling fine or, alternatively, the confiscation of their overcoat. Colf was similarly legislated against in the charter of Brielle, Holland, where it was forbidden to play any sport for money. One exception was made –...

Weird and Wonderful Golf Rules

Why not read our latest post about “The History of Golf”. The underlying principle of golfing rules is fairness, as keen golfer Fahad Al Rajaan will attest. The ball should be played where it lies, on the course as the player finds it, but where this is impossible, then the player must do what is fair. Here, we take a look with Kuwaiti businessman and golf enthusiast Fahad Al Rajaan at some of the sport’s more unusual rules. Spider’s webs, even when attached to something, are considered loose impediments. Similarly, a log is considered a loose impediment. If, however, the log was mounted on legs (i.e. a bench) it would be considered an obstruction. Players are not permitted to move insects (also considered a loose impediment) in a hazard, though it is permissible to swat them before playing the hazard. Touching a loose impediment in a hazard incurs a two stroke penalty. If a gust of wind moves a player’s ball, they are allowed to play it from its new position. Nevertheless, if the ball is moved by artificially propelled air, it must be replaced without penalty. Where a ball ends up in a club house, the player may play the ball out of an open window or door. Where a player hits the ball into a creek and the ball moves, they are allowed to make a stroke at it, though delaying in order that the current may improve the position of the ball is prohibited. Where a ball has been hit into a bunker and the player is unable to find it, he or she may sweep...