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When on the green, the ball may be picked up to be cleaned or if it is in the way of an opponent's putting line; there are certain other circumstances in which a ball may be lifted. In these cases, the ball's position must first be marked using a ball marker; this is typically a round, flat piece of metal or plastic that is differentiable from others in use. Ball markers are often integrated into other accessories, such as divot tools, scorekeeping tools or tee holders, and in the absence of a purpose-made marker, a small coin such as a penny is acceptable.
Rangefinders allow a golfer to measure exact distance to the hole from their current position; they are illegal according to Rule 14-3 of the rules of golf, but the USGA allows individual course clubs to institute a local rule permitting rangefinders, and they are common among recreational golfers. The typical rangefinder is an optical device that is aimed by sighting the scope on the flag and using the calibrated gauge in the optics to estimate the distance based on the flagstick's apparent height. Other rangefinders estimate range using a calibrated focus or parallax control; the user sights the target, brings it into focus, and reads the distance mark on the control. Newer laser rangefinders operate by simply sighting any target and pressing a switch to take a very precise distance reading using an invisible laser. Newer golf carts often include GPS tracking which, combined with an electronic map of the course, can serve a similar function.
Originally, golf balls were made of a hardwood, such as beech. Beginning between the 14th and 16th centuries, more expensive golf balls were made of a leather skin stuffed with down feathers; these were called "featheries". Around the mid-1800s, a new material called gutta-percha, made from the latex of the East Asian sapodilla tree, started to be used to create more inexpensive golf balls nicknamed "gutties", which had similar flight characteristics as featheries. These then progressed to "brambles" in the later 1800s, using a raised dimple pattern and resembling bramble fruit, and then to "meshies" beginning in the early 1900s, where ball manufacturers started experimenting with latex rubber cores and wound mesh skins that created recessed patterns over the ball's surface. Recessed circular dimples were patented in 1910, but didn't become popular until the 1940s after the patents expired.
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A golfer typically transports golf clubs in a golf bag. Modern golf bags are made of nylon, canvas and/or leather, with plastic or metal reinforcement and framing, but historically bags have been made from other materials. Golf bags have several pockets designed for carrying various equipment and supplies required over the course of a round of golf. Virtually all bags are sectioned off with rigid supports at the top opening, both for rigidity and to separate clubs of various types for easier selection. More expensive bags have sleeves or pockets within the main compartment for each individual club, allowing for the desired club to be more easily removed from the bag and then returned without interference from the grips of the other clubs or internal hardware of the bag.
The traditional way to play was to walk, but the use of golf carts is very common due to a number of factors. Chief among them is the sheer length of the modern course, and the required "pace of play" instituted by many courses to prevent delays for other golfers and maintain a schedule of tee times. A typical par-72 course would "measure out" at between 6,000 and 7,000 total yards, which does not count the distance between the green of one hole and the tee of the next, nor the additional distance caused by errant shots. A player walking a 7,000-yard course might traverse up to 5 miles (8km). With a typical required pace of play of 4 hours, a player would spend 1.6 hours of that time simply walking to their next shot, leaving an average of only two minutes for all players to make each of the 72 shots for a par score (and most casual players do not score the course par). Economics is another reason why carts have become prevalent at many courses; the fee for renting a cart is less expensive than paying a caddie to carry the bags, and the private club gets the money for the cart rentals. A golf cart also enables physically handicapped people to play the game. Carts are also popular with golfers who are too lazy to walk the course.
Sunday bags are commonly advertised as "minimalist" carry bags; they have very light weight and flexible construction allowing the bag to be rolled up or folded for storage without clubs, and have storage pockets for the essentials of play (clubs, balls, tees) but often lack more advanced features like segregated club storage, insulated pockets for drinks, stand legs etc.
Staff bags are the largest class of golf bags, and are generally seen carried by caddies or other assistants to professional or high-level amateur players. Staff bags are generally the same size or larger than a cart bag, and typically feature a single shoulder strap, a large amount of storage for equipment and even spare attire, and large logo branding designed for product placement on televised events.
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