Golf 101: The Anatomy of a Golf Course

As a beginner golfer, I know how intimidating golf can be! There is a lot of insider lingo, rules, etiquette to follow, and what’s up with the plaid short? If you’ve been interested in learning about golf but feel overwhelmed, don’t worry. Honeybrook is here to help! In this Golf 101 blog series, We aim to explain golf to those who have interest but don’t know where to get started or feel intimidated.

In this first post, let’s talk about the anatomy of a golf hole. In further posts we will discuss which clubs to hit from which area and talk more about the hazards you may encounter on the course so subscribe to our blog (insert link to subscribe) and follow along with us!

A typical golf course is made up of 18 golf holes. The first nine holes are called the front nine, while the last nine holes are called the back nine. Hole 9 typically ends near the club house, giving the golfer a quick break to use the bathroom and grab a snack or drink at the snack bar before heading to hole 10 and finishing their round. This is called on the turn. You may hear someone say “I am going to grab a drink on the turn.” However it’s important that this time is used quickly as you don’t want to hold up the groups behind you. 

Each hole starts with a tee box. This is a flat, usually square area. Each hole may have a few tee boxes at different distances, each with colored markings. These markings are also called tees because you want to tee up your ball between the tee markings. Each tee is color coded based on your skill level. You may hear someone say “I play from the reds” or “I play from the blues” they are referring to where they start on each hole. The tees in order are red, yellow, blue, white and black. Red’s provide the golfer the shortest distance from the tee box to the hole making it the perfect starting point for new golfers, followed by yellow, white, blue and black will be the furthest distance from the hole. 

In the past the red tees were known as the “ladies tees” the yellow as “seniors” blue and white as “men’s” and blacks as “pros” However, today, most golf courses recognize tees based on your skill level and it’s acceptable for any gender to use any tee during general play, however during tournaments or competitions you may be asked to use a certain tee. You may see other colors on some courses, as an example Honeybrook also has green tees, these are usually used for young kids as they position them closest to the green and provide an opportunity for younger children to play at the same pace as an adult.

The goal of golf is to get your ball into the hole with the least number of shots as possible (we will go over scoring in a future blog) The hole is located on what is called the green and is marked by a flag sticking out of the hole, also called the pin. The green is an area of the shortest grass on the course and is where you putt the ball using a putter. The location of the hole on the green changes often to avoid one area of the green from getting overused which could kill the grass. The area in which the hole is located is called the pin position and is a predetermined spot on the green. Before your round don’t be afraid to ask a staff member what the pin position is, the score card typically contains a layout of each green showing where on the green the pin positions are located.

After you tee off, hopefully your ball landed in the fairway. The fairway is the area between the tee box and the green this area has short grass (but not as short as the green), making it an ideal place to take your next shot. Surrounding the fairway is higher grass called the rough. The rough can be trickier to hit out of, so most people try to keep their ball in the fairway. 

A few obstacles you may encounter are bunkers (sometimes called sand traps) which are also called bunkers, water hazards like ponds and creeks, or swamp lands or out of bounds areas which are areas marked by a white stake meaning if your ball lands there it is not in the bounds of the golf hole, we will discuss these markings in a further post!

The paved path is called the cart path. Every golf course will have different rules about where you can and cannot drive the golf cart so check with someone on staff before you head out to play. Cart path only is exactly as it sounds, the golf cart must always stay on the cart path. This is usually a rule if the course is still wet from rain and is always a rule on shorter golf holes that are a par 3. Some golf courses do not have any designated paved cart path or only have paved paths on parts of the course, while others have a designated paved cart path the entire length of the golf course. If there is no cart path only rule you may drive your cart onto the fairway or rough, but do not drive on the tee box or the green. Some courses also have a 90° rule. This means you may drive out on to the fairway but must drive in a 90° angle from the cart path onto the fairway. If you have any questions about a golf courses cart policies don’t be afraid to ask a staff member. There are a lot of rules and things to keep in mind, but staff, especially here at Honeybrook are always happy to help.

To learn more, sign up for our Golf 101 Instructional series, Wednesday’s April 21st-May 19th Register here OR view our other instructional clinics here.

This post written by: Samantha Swartz


Front nine- the first 9 holes of the golf course (1-9)

Back nine- the last 9 holes of the golf course (10-18)

On the turn- the time between holes 9 & 10 usually used as an “intermission” to use the bathroom or grab a snack

Tee box- the flat square grass area at the start of each hole

Green- the end of the hole, contains the shortest grass and is the location of the pin/hole 

Pin- the stick with a flag on the end that sticks up out of the hole

Putt- a short hit used to get the ball in the hole while on the green

Pin position- the location of the hole on the green

Fairway- the long stretch of short grass between the tee box and the green

Rough- the higher grass surrounding the tee box, fairway and green

Bunkers- the areas containing sand sometimes also called a sand trap

Water hazard- a lake, pond, creek or other water area on the hole, hit in here and you have to take a penalty

Out of bounds- an area marked with a white stake, if you hit inside this area you have to take a penalty as it is out of the bounds of the golf hole

Cart path- The area designated for golf carts, usually paved

Cart path only- a rule meaning carts must stay on the path, usually after heavy rains and always a rule on short par 3 holes 

Par– the number of strokes it should take you to get into the hole

90°  rule- a cart parth rule meaning the golf cart must drive out to the ball at a 90° angle from the cart path and return to the cart path at a 90° angle

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