golf, game of hitting a small hard ball with specially made clubs over an outdoor course sometimes (particularly if it is near the coast) called a links. The object is to deposit the ball in a specified number of cups, or holes, using as few strokes as possible. Although golf's place of origin is uncertain, Scotland has the strongest claim. As early as 1457 it was banned there as a threat to archery practice, which was considered vital to national defense. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland (founded 1754), is the international shrine of golf, and the club's basic rules are the worldwide standards.
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