Interested in getting involved in golf? Maybe you already play recreationally and want to take your skills to the next level. Golf can easily be described as one of the more laid-back, relaxing sports, but in actuality, it is rife with stress, tension, and also great reward. Like many other sporting activities, what you see is not necessarily what you get; a lot more goes into golf than just the sendoff swing – and the swing is a difficult technique to master by itself! Golf is a game of strategy, planning, and level-headedness, and even the greatest players may find themselves seriously afflicted by some of the dangers and hazards on the field of play. Here are a few things to watch out for if/when you find yourself in another game of golf…
Field Hazards: If the sport of golf could be boiled down to two components, it would be the player’s swing and the course the ball must traverse to reach the hole. No golf course is simple in construction, and much planning and analysis goes into creating the ideal field of play. Most field hazards distributed throughout a game of golf are implemented by choice – they are manmade, and added to keep play interesting and competitively restrictive. The two most common forms of field hazards are water traps and bunkers. Water traps, as the name implies, are manmade or natural bodies of water around which the golf course has been constructed. They pose an obvious threat to golf balls and practically guarantee (should the ball become ensnared) that players will suffer a penalty stroke in retrieving it. Bunkers, also known plainly as sand traps, are small, manmade valleys in a golf course filled with sand. While at face value, sand may not seem quite as halting as water, the player’s momentum should the golf ball land in a bunker is nonetheless disturbed. The player has an opportunity of hitting the ball out of a bunker without suffering the penalty stroke in moving it, but they may not practice their swing before hitting the golf ball out of a trap. If the player is not careful and concise, they may lose several swings over trying to remove the golf ball from a bunker.
Weather: Course traps are the most blatant threat to a golfer’s game, but many more dangers can potentially populate the field – dangers which are more sporadic and play-influencing than others. For sports like baseball and football, weather conditions like rain, strong winds, and even hail can complicate and shut down gameplay. Given that golf is much more intricate and delicate than other sports, the influence of the weather is compounded. The golf course might as well be an entirely different playing field in the rain; the wet ground completely changes traction and movement for the golf ball, and the dense, wet air can constrict even the most elegant swings. Golf is so delicate, even dry air temperature can have a major influence on playability and approaches players must take – colder air is slightly denser, and as such, the ball will have a tendency to lose a little bit of the flight it would gain from a similar swing on a warmer day. Despite how unfavorable (apart from a balmy, dry day with the sun shining) the weather can be, there are a few beneficial aspects to certain weather conditions; rain will indeed wet the ground, but this also leads to wet bunkers. Sand that is dampened by water will actually clump up and make it easier to hit the ball out of such traps. Additionally, while the coarser terrain on the field will become slick as the result of the rain, the “greens” that surround the hole at the other end of the golf course will not. Putting shots will need an extra bit of force behind them, and the ball will not curve nearly as much, which could make longer putts easier. Like with any outdoor sport, lightning storms are very dangerous, especially for lone players swinging with metallic golf clubs in the midst of an open field. Play it safe and don’t risk electrocution!
The threats on a golf course certainly abound, but this should never discourage an enthusiastic beginner or recreational veteran! Like with any sport, a good golf player is built by perseverance, an enduring spirit, and lots of practice. Approaching hazards in golf is all about strategy, logic, quick thinking, and taking the best shot possible. As for bad weather…maybe staying indoors and waiting for a clearer day isn’t such a bad idea!