Stroke counters help a player keep track of the number of strokes he or she has made during a hole, an entire round, or both. The simplest devices are strings of beads, thumbwheels or "clickers" that a player advances by one after each stroke and provide a total for the player to write on their scorecard after each hole; newer variations have various degrees of computational power added and can keep score for multiple holes, total scores, and keep track of over/under par statistics. These more advanced counters are generally referred to as "electronic scorecards". Counters by themselves are allowed under strict rules, but some multi-functional devices incorporate additional banned features like rangefinders or wind gauges, and as such the entire device becomes illegal.
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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Many golfers wear special shoes. The shoes can be spikeless or with spikes attached to the soles. The spikes can be made of metal or plastic (plastic spikes are also known as "soft spikes") designed to increase traction thus helping the player to keep his/her balance during the swing, on greens, or in wet conditions. In an attempt to minimize the severity of spike marks made on greens, many golf courses have banned metal spikes, allowing only plastic spikes during play.
Ball retrievers are telescoping poles with a device at the end that scoops up and traps golf balls, and are used for reclaiming a ball from a water hazard. These are allowed under strict rules (provided of course the proper one-stroke penalty is assessed for hitting the ball into the water in the first place), but for courtesy to other players a player retrieving his ball should do so quickly, and should not spend time retrieving abandoned balls.
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Spikes on most golf shoes are replaceable, being attached using one of two common methods: a thread or a twist lock. Two sizes of thread are in common use, called a "large thread" and "small thread". There are two common locking systems: Q-LOK and Tri-LOK (also called "Fast Twist"). The locking systems use a plastic thread which takes only about a half turn to lock.
Ball washers may be used to clean golf balls. Various designs exist, and many golf courses provide stand-mounted ball-washers near the tee box of each hole. Some courses even have ball and club washers on each golf cart. According to strict rules, the ball is not allowed to be cleaned between a player's tee shot and the ball's landing on the green, except to the degree necessary to inspect the ball for damage that would make it unplayable. Once the ball has landed on the green, the player may pick up and wipe off the ball to remove attached dirt or debris that would impede the ball rolling along the green, and between holes the ball may be thoroughly cleaned.
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