Golf is a sport in which a player, using several types of clubs, hits a ball into each hole on the golf course in the lowest possible number of strokes. Golf is one of the few ball games that does not use a standardised playing area; rather, the game is played on golf "courses," each one of which has a unique design and typically consists of either 9 or 18 separate holes. Golf is defined in the Rules of Golf as "playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules."
The first game of golf for which records survive was played at Bruntsfield Links, in Edinburgh, Scotland, in A.D. 1456, recorded in the archives of the Edinburgh Burgess Golfing Society, now The Royal Burgess Golfing Society. Golf has become a worldwide sport, with golf courses in the majority of countries.
Golf competition may be played as stroke play, in which the individual with the lowest number of strokes is declared the winner, or as match play with the winner determined by whichever individual or team posts the lower score on the most individual holes during a complete round. In addition, team events such as fourball have been introduced, and these can be played using either the stroke or matchplay format. Alternative ways to play golf have also been introduced, such as miniature golf, sholf and disc golf.
Golf has increasingly turned into a spectator sport, with several different levels of professional and amateur tours in many regions of the world. People such as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam have become well recognized sportspeople across the world. Sponsorship has also become a huge part of the sport and players often earn more from their sponsorship contracts than they do from the sport itself.