Game in which a player using special clubs attempts to sink a small ball with as few strokes as possible into each of the 9 or 18 successive holes on an outdoor course. Each hole has associated with it a par, or score standard, usually from par 3 to par 5. The origins of the game are difficult to ascertain, although evidence now suggests that early forms of golf were played in the Netherlands first and then in Scotland. Golf developed in Scotlandthe courses were originally fields of grass that sheep had clipped short in their characteristic grazing style. Golf balls were originally made of wood; wood was replaced in the 17th century by boiled feathers stuffed in a leather cover, in the 19th century by gutta-percha, and in the 20th century by hard rubber. Clubs, limited in number to 14, are known by the traditional names of irons (primarily for mid-range to short shots) and woods (primarily for longer shots); today irons are more likely made of stainless steel, and woods are actually made of metal such as steel or titanium.