Beginners Guide to Golf Part 1

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Author: Chad Gray

new to golf?
nO WORRIES…we have you covered!

We have everything you need to know in this 2-part beginners guide to golf.

What you’ll learn in Part 1:

  • Golf Equipment for Beginners
  • Learning to Play
  • Playing the Golf Course
  • Golf Etiquiteet

Check back next week for Part 2:

  • Rules of Golf
  • Need to Know Golf Terms
  • Dos and Don’ts

Golf Equipment for Beginners

As much as top of the line golf gear can improve your game, it shouldn’t be solely relied on especially when you are new to golf. We suggest either renting a set from the club, buying a used set, and don’t get an entire set. Get a wood, two or three irons, a sand wedge, and a putter.
Tips to know:

  • New golfers should stay in the mid-price range for clubs. Keep in mind that there is always the possibility that you will end up not liking the sport or not doing very well in it, so splurging on a set of expensive golf clubs in the beginning is not ideal.
  • Take advantage of clubs made for beginners: Some types of clubs are easier to hit than others. For one thing, you’re better off with hybrids instead of 3-, 4-, and 5-irons. And irons with wider soles (the bottom part of an iron) will alleviate the tendency for the club to stick in the ground when you hit too far behind the ball.
  • Generally, a more forgiving iron will feature a sole that measures about the width of two fingers (from front edge to back). If an iron’s sole measures less than one finger width, you only should be playing it if you’re paid to do so.
  • Choose the right ball: Buy balls on a sliding scale based on how many you lose in a round.

If you want to be a successful golfer, it’s a good idea to take up golf lessons. Golf is not intuitive. You have to train yourself and your body to do things that do not come natural, and without someone there to correct mistakes and give guidance, you will develop bad habits.

Learning To Play

The hardest part about golf can be getting started. How much are you willing to put into it? That goes for time and the money. Do some soul-searching, and start to develop your plan.

  • Take lessons right away: Nothing beats starting out with some positive direction. And don’t just seek instruction when you’re struggling. It’s just as important to know what you’re doing right as what you’re doing wrong.
  • Have a range routine: Everyone wants to see how far they can hit a golf ball, but when you go to the driving range, resist the temptation to immediately start ripping drivers. Start out by hitting one of your wedges or short irons, warming up your golf muscles with half-swings. Then increase the length and speed of your swings, and move on to your middle irons. Work your way up to the driver, and after you hit some balls with it, go back to a short iron or wedge.
  • Learn the short shots: Roughly half of your strokes come within 50 yards of the green. That means you probably should spend half of your practice time with your wedges and putter.
  • When in doubt, go back to basics: Golf can really get you thinking too much. There’s a lot of information out there, and when you’re a new golfer, too much information can be, well, too
    much. When you find yourself getting burned out from too much swing thinking, go back to basics. Try to get yourself into a good setup — check your ball position and posture — then make a relaxed swing all the way to a full finish. Over-thinking creates tension, so be aware of your stress level.

Playing the golf course

Now that you’ve got some clubs and you’ve learned the basics of golf, you’re thinking about testing yourself on an actual golf course.
Here’s what to keep in mind.

  • Start small: Golf is hard enough without needing eight shots just to get to the green. Give yourself some time to get acclimated here before taking on a bigger challenge. Start on a par 3 or “executive” course which is usually less than 200 yards before you try an 18-hole championship course.
  • Play three holes: You need to build yourself up to playing 18 holes. Consider starting by playing three holes of a nine-hole course late in the afternoon when the course is less crowded and rates are cheaper.
  • Choose the right course: Don’t start on any course that’s going to have you discouraged before you reach the first green. A good beginner course is flat, short and doesn’t have many hazards. There’ll be plenty of time to test yourself on tougher layouts.
  • Move on up: Forget about ego, and feel free to play from the forward set of tees. Playing the course at 5,500 yards or less will save you time, frustration and golf balls.
  • Keep up the pace: Most golf courses ask that you finish 18 holes in four-and-a-half hours, but you can do better than that. One way to maintain a decent pace is to limit yourself to a certain number of strokes per hole. (We suggest a maximum of seven strokes per hole.) As a beginning golfer, there’s nothing wrong with picking up your ball if you’re holding your playing partners up.

Golf Etiquette

Golf etiquette may seem complicated, and in truth, there’s plenty you’ll learn the more you play. But if you start with the following five points, you’ll be fine

  • Don’t lag behind: You should take just one or two practice swings and be ready to hit when it’s your turn. Additionally, on the green if it is a casual round of golf, very short putts (roughly two feet or less) are generally “given.” If someone tells you “that’s good” it means it is assumed you will make the next putt and you can pick the ball up. A good way to monitor your pace of play is to always remain a half hole behind the group in front of you.
  • Wait your turn: If all golfers hit at the same time, it would be mass confusion, so knowing when to go is important. Traditionally, the person who had the best score on the previous hole has “the honor” and tees off first (and so on). From there, the general rule is the person furthest from the hole — or “away” — hits next.
  • Don’t hurt anyone. Yell “Fore!” as a warning. Shouting “Fore!” is merely another way saying, “Watch out!” This warns other players so don’t wait! The moment you realize a ball has even a remote chance of hitting another person, shout it out.
  • Take care of the course: Do your part to help preserve the course. If you’re in a golf cart, find out if it is OK to take the carts on the grass. Never drive the cart near the putting green. On the course, if you take a divot (a piece of turf when hitting a shot), you should either replace it by carefully placing it in the spot and then firmly pressing down on it with your foot. If you don’t know how to properly fix them, ask one of your playing partners to show you. And make sure you rake the bunker after you hit out of one.
  • Know where to stand: Golf is played with blunt objects and golfers don’t want people getting hurt. They also don’t want anything interfering with their concentration on a shot. A good rule of thumb is to stand to the side and slightly behind the ball several yards away. If a player is in a bunker, stay alert and stand well off to the side. On the green, try to stay out of the line of sight of the person putting. Further, when walking on the green be aware of the line from other player’s balls and the hole and don’t step in those lines.