One of the things that a newcomer to the World of golf would probably like to know is what the difference is between different types of golf course. This question is more complicated than you may first imagine as there are really three different ways to express what category a particular golf course fits into.
The first is by setting and categories a course by whether it is set in heathland, woodland or by the ocean etc. The second type is by length, where the course is categorized essentially by the length of time it takes to play a round, so these types will be pitch & putt, full length or executive, so called because executives may not have time to play a round on a full length course of 18 holes. Most executive courses are only 9 holes.
In this article though we are going to look at how golf courses can be categorized by ownership. The above two types of categorization allow you to know what to expect when you turn up to play. However, this third type of categorization determines whether or not you will be allowed access to the course at all.
The following is not an exhaustive list of course types but these are the most popular types of course that you might come across.
Private Golf Courses are courses which are owned by a golf club and they only allow play by members of the club. If you aren't a member of the club then you can't play, unless of course you are lucky enough to be invited to play by someone who is already a member.
Public Golf Courses can be courses owned by private organizations or individuals or by other organizations such as local businesses. The key here is that the owner charges a fee for playing. Essentially this means that the course is open to be played by anyone who can afford to pay the fee.
Courses also exist which are essentially a combination of the above two. Club members can play at any time. The public are allowed to play but usually only on specific days of the week, or times of day.
Municipal golf course are owned by the local government. They operate like public golf courses but the money paid for the green fees goes to the them as opposed to a private individual or company.
Some residential areas have their own golf course which is designed to be played by the local residents only. They tend to be run by the community itself and as such are not open to the public.
Finally there is the resort golf course. Resort golf courses are owned and operated by a holiday resort or a hotel chain for the pleasure of their guests. Play may not be restricted to resort guests however, and so you may find some resort courses are open to the public in return for a fee.