Golf (gowf in Scots) is a game in which individual players or teams strike a ball into a hole using various clubs and is one of the few ball games for which a standard playing area is not fixed; as described in the Rules of Golf, promulgated by the United States Golf Association and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the game comprises playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes.
Thought to have originated in Scotland, the game has been played in the British Isles recreationally since the 16th century CE and professionally since the late 19th century CE; in its present form, the game dates to at least 1672, when golf is recorded to have been contested in Musselburgh, Scotland. Although the game was regarded for much of the 20th century CE as an elite pastime, it has become increasingly popular amongst individuals from all social and economic strata, largely appreciated as a game one can play for his/her entire life.
Golf is played on a tract of land known as the course, classically in a links configuration close to the sea, where the grasses are slower growing. Inland courses were not viable until the invention of the mechanical mower in the late 19th century as not enough grass could be cut by hand to maintain the courses in playing condition. Any list of Golf Courses will always show that the earliest clubs are built on "links" land. The course comprises a series of holes, typically of 9 or 18, where the hole is used to refer not only to the void in the ground in which a cup is placed and into which players seek to hit the ball, but also to the total distance from teeing ground to green (the area surrounding the actual hole).
A caddy (alternatively, caddie) is an individual, most often at a private golf club or resort, who carries the golf bag of a player and offers him advice on play and moral support. A caddy is expected to be acquainted with the rules of golf generally and a golf course in specific and to be able to advise his player as to club selection, shot yardage, pin placement, and overall strategy. The term is dated by historians to the late 16th century, when Mary, Queen of Scots, is thought to have brought the term to Scotland from her native France, where military cadets carried golf clubs for royalty. Traditional caddying, in which a caddy walks a course with a player, remains the most common method of caddying used at public and private golf clubs and the only form permitted on major professional golf tours. Caddies, who in professional golf are usually travel weekly with a single player but who at the club level are most often attached to a given club, serve also to perform a variety of common golf duties, such as the raking of bunkers and the repairing of divots. Caddies who work on the professional level often draw large salaries and earn fans of their own right; Eddie Lowery (pictured, center) became a celebrated figure after he, aged 10 years, caddied for American Francis Ouimet in the 1913 United States Open, and Lowery was ultimately depicted prominently in the 2005 dramatic film The Greatest Game Ever Played.