Golf courses are not just for experts, or the rich and famous; golf is a fun, competitive sport that can be played by anyone. In most metro areas, you have several options for the type of place you play, difficulty, and even how many holes.
Public courses are open to everyone. You don't have to be a member to play, although you will have to pay the green fee for the day. Most public facilities will recommend a reservation for your tee time, especially if it is a busy time of year. You may get lucky and be able to just walk on if it's not too busy.
Private facilities, on the other hand, are only available to members and their guests. They may require reservations in order to make sure their members don't have to wait unnecessarily. Usually there are other benefits, such as a lounge area, instructors, tennis courts, pool among other other amenities.
Some private facilities are also available to the public, so you could say they are, "semi-private." Many small-town clubs are set up this way, as are resorts in high tourist areas. They will reserve certain tee times for members and guests, and allow other times for the public. Usually the public will pay a higher green fee than members.
You may have thought that all golf courses had 18-holes. They have 9-holes that compose the front, and 9-holes in the back. While 18-holes are certainly the size of the majority of golf courses, there are other choices in some areas.
– 9-holes: A small town may not have a full size green. In this case, if you want to play a full round, you would just go through the holes twice. The difficulty and length of the course are usually much the same as a full size, just in less overall area.
– Executive: This type only has 9-holes, but they are less difficult than regulated facilities, so they don't take as long to play through. This means it may be ideal for someone who doesn't have an entire morning or afternoon to play.
– Par 3: This is a 9-hole course that only has par 3-holes. Because it's not as difficult, it's a good choice for beginners. It's also great if you just want to get in a quick game.
The length of the holes and the objects around them, as well as the par value determines the difficulty of the course. Most 18-hole facilities have a combination of par 3, 4 and 5 holes. For example, the Executive course has only a few par 4 and 5-holes, which is why it does not take as long to play. If you're just starting, choose a place with as many par 3-holes as possible.
From the beginner to the experienced, look around at the golf courses near you and pick one where you can have fun and play your best game!