Where to Begin? Our Leading Guide to Help You When Starting with Golf
Starting with Golf
Golf is a great game. In fact, many long-time players would argue that it is the greatest game in the world.
Unfortunately, golf doesn’t have the best reputation for welcoming in new players. There are a variety of reasons for that reputation.
First, the game is just plain hard!
There is no getting around the fact that golf is challenging, and new players will almost always struggle for a period of time before they start to make progress. Also, the cost of getting started in the game can be prohibitive for some potential new players. Between buying new clubs, balls, shoes, a bag, and more, you can spend a small fortune before you even buy your first bucket of range balls or pay your first greens fee.
In addition to those two obstacles, other discouraging aspects for new golfers include the difficulty of meeting others who play the game, finding good places to play, the overall techniques, and making time for 4-5 hour rounds of golf.
With all of that said, there is good news: golf isn’t nearly as hard on beginners as its reputation would lead you to believe.
Are there some challenges when first getting started? Sure. However, the rewards of taking the time necessary to learn the ropes will be more than worth it when you start to see success on the course, meet new friends, travel to beautiful courses, and more.
So, where do you start if you’re a beginner just starting out with golf?
Step One: Dive Right In
The best way to get started in golf is simply to point your car toward the nearest driving range and go for it. Forget about buying an entire set of clubs for now, or any of the other accessories that you will need later on. For now, just find a local driving range and go make your first swings.
Are you going to know what you are doing? Not necessarily.
It doesn’t matter, though. Just get to the range and hit some balls. For most people, this first step is all it will take to hook them on a lifelong pursuit. You can’t become a golfer if you never swing a golf club, so step over this first hurdle as soon as possible.
The most important thing to remember at this point is that you should be having fun. There is no point in becoming a golfer if you aren’t going to have fun with it, so relax and laugh at yourself when you hit bad shots or miss the ball. There will be plenty of time to get better and take the game more seriously if you so choose. For now, smile a lot and enjoy your time at the range.
Step Two: Acquiring Some Gear
If you don’t own any golf clubs currently, there are a few options that you can use to facilitate your first trip to the range. They are as follows:
- Borrow clubs from a friend: Chances are, you know at least one or two golfers among the people in your social circles. Ask around to see if anyone has some clubs they would be willing to lend you for that initial voyage to the driving range. Not only is this a good way to find some clubs, you also might find someone willing to accompany you on your first trip.
- Use clubs at the range: Call ahead to the driving range you are going to visit to ask if they have clubs that you can use. Many practice ranges will offer free rentals when you purchase a bucket of balls. Of course, these aren’t going to be the greatest clubs in the world, but that isn’t important at this point in the process.
As well as clubs, you’ll also need to consider the following items too;
- Golf shoes.
- Golf balls.
- Golf bag.
- Golf-appropriate apparel.
- Minor accessories such as tees, ball markers, and a divot tool.
You can certainly shop online for these items, but you may be better off visiting a golf store in person so you can see and touch the items for yourself.
Step Three: Learn the Rules
To get you started on the right foot, the following list includes the most basic rules that you will need to know prior to your first round:
- Only One Try: There are no second chances in golf. Every shot counts, so if you hit the ball, it should be reflected on the scorecard. You might hear the term “mulligan” used in reference to a second try on a particular shot, but this is a term that appears nowhere in the actual rules of the game and is only occasionally used in informal and “friendly” rounds of golf.
- Touch the Ball on the Green – and Nowhere Else: Unless your ball is resting on the putting green, you shouldn’t be touching it (unless you are putting it on the tee to start the hole – at that point the ball is not yet “in play”). Even if your ball is sitting down in some deep grass, you aren’t allowed to move it to a better place.
- Your Club Should Not Touch the Sand: If your ball comes to rest in a sand trap, you aren’t allowed to touch the sand with the club (until you actually hit the shot). Resting your club in the sand behind the ball prior to hitting the shot is a penalty, so is taking a practice swing and making contact with the sand.
- Play Your Own Ball: It is also a penalty to hit the ball of another player, so pay close attention and identify your ball prior to hitting it. You might find it helpful to make a unique marking on your ball to lessen the chances of making this mistake, but at the very least be sure to know what make and number are written on your ball for quick identification.
One other thing worth mentioning in this section is etiquette. The way you conduct yourself on the golf course is called etiquette, and it is an important part of getting along with the other golfers. You will learn more about etiquette with experience, but a few of the key points are as follows:
- Never make noise while another player is hitting a shot.
- When on the putting green, don’t walk between the hole and another player’s ball. This is also referred to as “stepping on a player’s line.”
- Always rake sand traps when you are done.
- Replace your divots wherever possible.
- Fix the indentation your ball made on the green when it landed (called a “ball mark”).
- Help other golfers look for their ball when it is in a bad spot, and they will do the same for you.
- Play at a reasonable pace as to not hold up the golfers behind you and if you are playing slowly it is good etiquette to let the players behind you “play through.”
If you can follow those basic points, you will quickly become a golfer that anyone would be happy to play with.
Step Four: The First Round
As you are planning out your first round, there are a couple important things to keep in mind. The first is the day and time that you choose to schedule the tee time. Golf courses are busiest on weekends, so it is best to avoid Saturday and Sunday if at all possible. Also, most courses are busier in the morning on weekdays, as retired people often like to play early in the day. Therefore, weekday afternoons are your best bet for finding a quiet time where you won’t feel the pressure to keep up with a crowded golf course. Consider taking a half a day off of work, or pick a weekday when you aren’t working, so you can enjoy a sparsely occupied course for your very first round.
One final tip – don’t forget to eat and drink during the round. If you decide to start with a full 18-hole round, you will be on the course for four hours or more, so keep yourself nourished and hydrated, until you get to the 19th hole!
Step Five: Getting Better
If you need some swing tips or other coaching, most golf facilities offer lessons for reasonably affordable rates, and some even have lesson packages specifically designed for beginners.
To get started taking your first lesson, simply stop by or call your local course and ask about their lesson plan. The club pro will be more than happy to provide rates, explain the lesson process, and answer any other questions you may have.
If your sport of choice is golf, we’d love to hear about your experiences and ay tips you may have for beginners to the game
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