The object of the game of golf is to hit the ball from the tee into the hole in the green with as few strokes as possible. A golf course is not flat and does not have a uniform size like a tennis court or a football ground. Most courses have 18 holes and no two holes are the same. In golf, you need to hit long shots and short shots, high shots and low shots, straight shots and (believe it or not) crooked shots. You need to be able to hit shots that bounce and run a long way and shots that stop quickly once they hit the ground.

Golf is the only sport where the best player in the club and the worst can have an enjoyable game together because of the system of handicaps. When you start playing competitions, your first handicap will probably be 36. This means you are allowed to take 36 strokes from your score at the end of your game. If you played against Stuart Appleby of Carrie Webb, two of Australia’s best players, you might even beat them. Say for example, your score was 100 for 18 holes and you took off your 36 handicap, your score would come down to 64. To beat you, Stuart or Carrie would have to shoot a 63.

The next object of the game is to lower your handicap. As you improve as a player, the number of strokes you are allowed to deduct from your scorecard will decrease. If you have a lot of ability and practise hard, it is possible to get to the stage where you don not deduct any trokes. How quickly this happens varies from player to player. Some people play all their lives and can’t get below 20. Greg Norman did not take up golf until he was 15 but he became a scratch player (someone whose handicap is down to 0 ) into years.

Only a small percentage of players get their handicaps down to single figures ( nine or less). If your handicap is four or better by the time you are 17, you might like to think about a career as a professional golfer. Don’t worry if it does not come down quickly. There is no rule that says you can’t have fun on a big handicap. Golf is a game and the most important object of any game is to have fun.