Golf is one of the 5 most popular sports in the world, behind soccer and alongside tennis and cricket. Golf was invented in Scotland and was originally intended to be an elite sport for the wealthy upper class men to escape their wives and lower class citizens. As well as being one of the most popular sports in the world, it is also one of the most highly paid sports in the world, with elite international golfers earning several million dollars per year in prize money and much more in endorsements.
The aim of golf is to hit a small ball known as a golf ball from one spot towards a hole, taking as few shots as possible. Large waist-high metal or wooden sticks with heads on them that are about 2-3 times as wide as the golf ball and about the same height are used to hit the ball, different ones being intended to hit it different distances and best used on different terrains.
Golf is typically played over 9 or 18 holes, and at elite levels it is typically played over 18 holes, with typically 4 rounds of 18 holes each, for a total of 72 holes, 18 per day over 4 days. Most major tournaments have a cut off after 2 days where the half of players with the worst scores (the most shots taken to get the ball in the holes combined) being removed from the rest of the tournament.
Golf is most popular in Europe, United States of America and Asia, although it has a degree of following in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. While Japanese players are not often very competitive on the international stage, it is probably the most popular sport in Japan, one of few countries where golf is the most popular sport.
Major tournaments typically follow the USPGA tour around the United States or the European tour around Europe. To date there is no major tour around Asia. The British Open is probably the only major tournament that competes in prize money and prestige with the biggest tournaments in the United States.
Of the world's highest ranked players, typically a roughly equal number are from a country in Europe as there are from the United States of America, indicating that it is far more popular in the United States than it is throughout most of the rest of the world, or at least that Americans are better at it. There is a regular Europe vs United States team tournament.