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A golf course is the grounds where the game of
Although a specialty within
The layout of a fairway follows certain traditional principles, such as the number of holes (nine and 18 being most common), their par values, and the number of holes of each par value per course. It is also preferable to arrange greens to be close to the tee box of the next playable hole, to minimize travel distance while playing a round, and to vary the mix of shorter and longer holes. Combined with the need to package all the fairways within what is frequently a compact square or rectangular plot of land, the fairways of a course tend to form an oppositional tiling pattern. In complex areas, two holes may share the same tee box, fairway, or even green. It is also common for separate tee-off points to be positioned for men, women, and amateurs, each one respectively lying closer to the green. Eighteen-hole courses are traditionally broken down into a "front 9" (holes 1–9) and a "back 9" (holes 10–18). On older courses (especially links courses, like the Old Course at St. Andrews), the holes may be laid out in one long loop, beginning and ending at the clubhouse, and thus the front 9 is referred to on the scorecard as "out" (heading out away from clubhouse) and the back 9 as "in" (heading back in toward the clubhouse). More recent courses (and especially inland courses) tend to be designed with the front 9 and the back 9 each constituting a separate loop beginning and ending at the clubhouse. This is partly for the convenience of the players and the club, as then it is easier to play just a 9-hole round, if preferred, or stop at the clubhouse for a snack between the front 9 and the back 9.
A successful design is as visually pleasing as it is playable. With golf being a form of outdoor recreation, the strong designer is an adept student of natural landscaping who understands the aesthetic cohesion of vegetation, water bodies, paths, grasses, stonework, and woodwork, among other elements.
Most golf courses have only par-3, −4, and −5 holes, though some courses include par-6 holes. (The Ananti CC and the Satsuki golf course in
Harder or easier courses may have longer- or shorter-distance holes, respectively. Terrain can also be a factor, so that a long downhill hole might be rated par 4, but a shorter uphill or severely treacherous hole might be rated par 5. Tournament players will usually play from a longer-distance tee box (the Championship or Tournament tee) that is behind the standard men's tee, which increases the typical distance of each par; a par-3 hole can be up to 290 yards (270 m), and longer par-4 holes can measure up to 520 yards (480 m), which can also be accomplished by converting a par-5 hole into a long par-4 hole for tournament players. This compensates for the generally longer distance pro players can put on tee and fairway shots as compared to the average "bogey golfer".