About five million Americans play golf regularly. The nation has over 10,000 facilities offering full or partial golf courses, not including dedicated driving ranges and miniature golf courses. Public golf courses allow anyone to play, for a one-time fee. Many cities, counties and states in the United States maintain these courses for the public benefit. Private golf courses charge an annual fee and often an initiation fee. Throughout the country, but especially in the warmer regions such as Florida and Southern California, substantial home and retirement communities exist that allow their residents quick access to nearby golf activities, thus promising the “golf lifestyle.”
The standard American golf facility, either public or private, often includes a “pro shop” from which a “club pro,” a licensed professional golfer, offers instruction and sells clothing and equipment. The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) set standards for all the nation’s golf professionals, including those talented few who compete in the most prominent and lucrative golf tournaments.
Three of the world’s four “major” professional golf championships for men take place in the United States. The so-called “British Open” is the only exception. The Masters always takes place at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, while the US Open and PGA tournaments occur at a changing array of the nation’s prominent golf courses. The United States has also a substantial series of women’s and senior golf championship events. The audience for all these events, in person or on television, tends to be affluent. Sponsors are often luxury automobile companies and financial service firms, as well as golf equipment makers. Celebrity golf is also popular. Here television and film celebrities, or athletes from other sports, compete for attention, all with a sense of fun. At charity golf tournaments, both large and local, admissions, entry and broadcast fees benefit the charity that sponsors the event.
Miniature golf, while it does have a number of “serious” tournaments worldwide, exists in the United States mostly as a recreational activity rather than as a sport. Miniature golf courses feature obstacles such as buildings, rotating windmills, castles, and numberless other kinds of objects that provide entertainment value to adults and children alike. The United States has over 5,000 of these courses, often provided in combination with a range of other family entertainment options.
The United States hosts the World Golf Hall of Fame in its oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida. The hall has the support of golf organizations from around the world, and celebrates both male and female legends of golf.
A number of golf terms have worked their way into everyday American English. “Par for the course” indicates an expected phenomenon or result. “On a par with” indicates equivalence, “up to par” and “sub-par” either adequacy or inadequacy. A “hole in one” indicates either a spectacular achievement or a chance piece of luck. “Making the cut” connotes getting past an initial obstacle, as professional golfers must do to survive into the later rounds of a tournament. The opposite, a euphemism for failure, is to “miss the cut.”
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