This article is a travel topic
Golf is a game that is variously considered a pastime, recreation, sport, profession, religion or an obsession. The apparent object is to knock a small hard ball into a designated hole, using only a minimum number of blows of a stick or club, while avoiding the hazards of the terrain such as vegetation, water, soft ground and loose sand. While this may appear frustrating to some, the pleasure that so many people do derive from working out their frustrations in the course of this game means that golf and visiting the golf courses where the game is played is a significant reason for travel.
Golf originated at Saint Andrews, in Scotland. Because of this, Scotland, and in particular the Old Course at St. Andrews, is considered the traditional home of Golf, and the standard to which all other Golf Courses are compared.
Golf spread throughout the British Isles, and by 1829, beyond them with the establishment of the "Royal Calcutta Golf Club" in India. By the end of the 19th Centuary, Clubs in Ireland, The United States of America, and Wales had come together to organise the sport at their respective national levels. Scotland and England followed after the First World War. Golf has two global Governing Bodies, the "R&A" at St Andrew's, Scotland and the "United States Golf Association" which work closely in partnership, for example in agreeing to changes to the "Rules of Golf". This joint approach helps to ensure that golf has not suffered the fate of other sports and split between a "British" sport, (e.g. Soccer and Cricket) and an "American" analogue (e.g. American Football and Baseball). Golf is golf wherever you play in the world, with the same standard rules, which is particularly useful if you want to play the sport outside your own country.
Today, perhaps one of the first two things that developers consider when wanting to attract more tourism to a destination is where to put the (next) golf course to go with the hotel they are wanting to develop.
Golf as we understand it originated in Scotland, although it is probable that ancestor games to modern golf originated on the Continent. However both the insular and continental European golfers do not let such matters divide them too much, when it comes to the Ryder Cup. That biennial trophy succeeds every two years to unify the Europeans in a way that has so far eluded the European Union.
The British Isles remain the main focus of golf in Europe. Throughout the British Isles you will find many good quality courses. The Celtic countries, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, in particular hit above their weight in terms of the courses they offer. This is due to the fact that their extensive coastlines offer ample opportunities to build links courses. Their larger neighbour England also has many fine courses. The most famous course undoubtedly would be the Old Course at St Andrews.
Iberia offers also offers the second most important focus for European Golf. Golf courses have developed in both Spain and Portugal, particularly in coastal areas. Valderama is probably the most famous of the continental courses the venue of the only European Ryder Cup held on Mainland Europe.
Other destinations have also developed golf courses. The Czech Republic for example has seen new courses open since the fall of communism, and the Scandanavian countries offer the opportunity of around the clock golf during the summer months.
The legendary home of golf and home to the one of the game's two co-governing bodies, the R&A. Scotland and St. Andrews in particular is a must for any golfing enthusiast and is estimated to have around 400 course - not all are open to the public and so the real figure is unknown.
Courses in Scotland include
See Golf in England for further details.
England has a long golfing history.
Scotland may be the home of golf, but Ireland was in fact the first country to organise golf on a national level. It has been one of the more popular golf destinations in recent years. It's popularity has pushed prices up, and playing golf in Ireland is relatively expensive compared with other destinations.
Famous courses include:-
Courses in Spain include
Wales like the other British Isles countries has a long golf history. It has approximately 150 golf clubs.
Wales has often been one of the earlier adopters of innovations in the game. Wales was the third country to start organising golf on a National Level, and indeed in 2007 both Men's and Ladies' golf came under the same organisational umbrella. The Stableford Scoring Systerm, used by most amateur club golfers also originated in Wales.
Wales has produced two Ryder Cup winning captains, Dai Rees and Ian Woosnam. Wales will host the competion in 2010, at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.
Despite the prestigious golfing heritage, Wales' courses remain relatively undiscovered by international visitors. This however has its advantages, since it offers the visitor high quality courses, at prices generally lower than elsewhere in Western Europe, and crowding on Welsh fairways is thankfully rare. Wales is growing in popularity as a golfing destination, and the 2010 Ryder Cup is expected to generate further international interest.
The Welsh Assmebly Government's official golf tourism website  gives details of all courses in Wales.
The more prestigious Courses in Wales include.
See Golf in China
See Golf in Thailand
The United States is a major golf destination, it has more golf courses than any other country, (approximately 10,000 Golf Courses).
The United States also has a surprisingly long golfing tradition. The formation of the United States Golf Association in 1894 was predated only that of by Ireland's Golf Union. Indeed the United States Golf Association, as well as acting as National Golf Association for the United States is one of the worldwide game's co-governing bodies.
The United States has for many years produced many of the world's best golfers, and remains a Golfing superpower, despite recent Ryder Cup defeats to the Europeans. The USA will host the 2008 Ryder Cup in Kentucky.
Three of the four Major golf tournaments are played in the United States, and some of the most famous, and best, courses can be found there.
At larger and more popular courses, the on-course Pro Shop will normally be able to supply all the necessary accessories.
Many golf courses have a Clubhouse that serves meals. Some provide a full service restaurant.
Most Clubhouses have a bar; such establishments are colloquially known as the 19th hole.
Golf is the sort of game that can be played in all sorts of weather conditions, especially if one wants a challenging game. However, lightning and severe storms are contraindications for safe play.
Consider golf insurance. This will pay out in the event of a hole-in-one, or if you injure other golfers.
If you use a caddies (and in many places you have no choice), you may be expected to tip them. In other places tipping is not permitted. You should ask when you book your round what the expected tip is.
Once you have finished playing be sure to clean your equipment. If you are crossing borders with your gear be sure to declare it, particularly where countries have biosecurity controls to limit the importation of equipment that has been in contact with farmland and the like. Otherwise you might find you are delayed while the equipment is cleaned, or worse, confiscated.