By: Brent Walter

Golf has something to offer everyone. Whether it's golf's friendly competition, full history, fascinating equipment or beautiful courses many Americans love golf. Over 25 million Americans play golf every year, according to the National Golf Foundation. Regardless of what peaked your interest in golf, this article will give you the basic information about the benefits of playing golf, the sport's history and what you need to start playing. (article continued below)

Photo Credit: Guillermo

Golf Basics

Benefits of golfing: If you're looking for a good excuse to start playing golf or need to justify the many hours you dedicate to golf each week, blame it on your health. According to the Harvard Men's Health Watch, an average 18-hole golf course can require four miles of walking. If you do that three to five times a week, you'll get the recommended amount of endurance exercise for your heart.
    Playing golf can also improve joint flexibility, balance and coordination, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Additionally, walking the golf course at a moderate pace can help you loose excess weight and improve your cholesterol levels.
    Possibly even more beneficial, playing golf relieves built up tension and stress. The beautiful courses and slow pace of the game have a relaxing quality. Playing golf can take you away from your daily worries, which improves your mental health, according to Helen Bond in her article Health & Fitness: Stressed Out?
    So the next time you are being nagged about spending too much time at the golf course or need a reason to buy brand new clubs, you can legitimately say, "Playing golf is important for my health." And if the health benefits aren't enough to keep you on the greens, going to a golf course is also a good way to hang out with friends, meet new people and make business connections.

History of golf: The history and tradition of golf is just as much a part of the game as clubs and tees. There are varied accounts about golf's origins; however most experts would agree that the game as we know it developed in Scotland (Richardson). The earliest beginnings of golf can be traced back to a Roman game called paganica, which was a ball and stick game played in the streets (World Book). The game was brought to England and Scotland during the Roman occupation between A.D. 43 and A.D. 400 (World Book). There, in Scotland, the game evolved into a form similar to what we now call golf (World Book).
    In Scotland in 1744 the first golf club was established, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. They created the first set of written rules to prevent any conflicts during competition (Hamilton). However, around 1754 the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews became established and took over managing the rules of golf. They were who decided 18 holes would be a round of golf (World Book).
    Today's golf looks very different from its humble beginnings. With space-age technology, multi-million dollar prize purses and corporate sponsored tournaments, on the surface there seems to be little in common with the original game of golf. However, golfers across the world still pursue the goal of getting the ball in the hole, which hasn't changed since the first ball was hit with a stick.

What you need: Enthusiasm and patients is all it takes to start playing golf. You can rent clubs and equipment at most driving ranges and golf courses. However, before you start setting a tee time, you should first practice at a driving range. If you need instructions you can book lessons at most ranges and courses. Practice and lessons are a good idea before you attempt an 18-hole golf course. If you must buy your own clubs right away, get a half set ( It will be enough to get you started. Once you progress, you can always expand your collection, and if you don't like playing, you didn't waste too much money.
    Like anything else, golf takes practice and patience to be good.  Thankfully, having fun while golfing is much easier, and you don't have to hit under 80 to enjoy golf's many benefits and interesting heritage.

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