What’s the deal?
After a long, long absence (112 years!), golf is back in the Olympics. The point of golf is to see who can hit a ball through a course in the fewest strokes. A golf course consists of 18 holes, and each hole contains distinct elements:
- Tee – The start of the hole. Golfers put the ball on a small wooden peg called a tee. This elevates the ball and makes it easier to drive it farther down the fairway.
- Fairway – This is the channel of grass that directs golfers to the hole. Grass is cut shorter here to make the ball easier to hit.
- Traps – Sand or water elements that golfers need to avoid hitting their ball into. Getting a ball out of the sand can be tough, but if it lands in water, the golfer gets a stroke penalty.
- Green – The short grass right around the hole. This signifies that golfer is almost done with the hole and usually just needs to use a special club called a putter that guides the ball into the hole in a more controlled way.
Each hole on the course is assigned a “par,” which is the ideal number of strokes a golfer should take to complete it. This ranges from 3-5 strokes depending on the distance from the tee to the hole. A golfer can go under or over par (the former’s better, natch). An “birdie” is one strokes under par, an “eagle” is two strokes under par, and an “albatross” is three under par. A “hole in one” is the unicorn of driving the ball from the tee all the way into the hole in one shot. On the opposite end, one stroke over par is a “bogey.” Go two over and it’s a “double bogey.” The count goes up from there.
For the Olympics, golfers will play this 18-hole course four days in a row.
The Olympics will have individual competition for both men and women.
Why should I watch?
We’re watching to see how this fares as an Olympic sport, to be honest. With how pricey the Games are to put on, adding in a world-class golf course had to be no cheap feat. We’ll also admit that watching golf can be kind of a guilty pleasure–there’s something really relaxing and zen about everyone (including the announcers) being hush-hush while golfers hit the balls. And hey, you’re hitting a little ball with a stick and trying to control where it goes. How they manage to do that, we don’t quite know.
Potential drinking game:
When the eagles soar, take a drink.
The perfect snack:
Carrot or celery sticks
The International Golf Federation is the governing organization recognized by the IOC.
Golf actually uses referees for high-level play. Learn more about that aspect of the sport here. The US Golf Association, Golf Australia and the Professional Golf Referees Association for more details.