How to Play Golf – Getting Started the Right Way
Golf is a great game – but no one ever said it was easy. Getting started in golf is a significant challenge for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the skills you need to bring with you onto the course are many. To understand how to play golf, you need to know how to make a full swing, you need to have short game skills like putting and chipping, and you need to brush up on the rules. Bringing everything together takes time and experience. Which is why so many new golfers struggle when getting started on the links.
With this article, we would like to take away some of the challenges that you might be facing as you get started in golf. Can we make the game easy for you? Of course not – golf for beginners is hard, and that isn’t going to change just because you read a single article. However, we can offer some basic advice to help you get started. We can discuss how you might be able to get over some of the common hurdles faced by new golfers.
If you spend the time necessary to read through to the end of this article. You’re likely to walk away with a much greater knowledge of how to get yourself started in this great game.
Assembling Some Equipment
Before you can call yourself a golfer, you are going to need to own some equipment. Sure, you could play a round of golf with rented clubs, or you could borrow clubs from a friend. But it’s going to be hard to develop your skills without your own personal gear. We’d recommend buying clubs and other equipment as soon as you decide that you want to take up this game as a hobby.
While golf equipment has a reputation for being quite expensive, and deservedly so. You don’t actually need to spend a fortune in order to get started. The best golf clubs for beginners aren’t nearly as expensive as those designed to serve the needs of the accomplished player. Also, buying used clubs should be seen as a viable option here. As plenty of websites and golf shops offer used clubs for a significant discount as compared to new.
It’s easy to focus on clubs, but there is actually a lot of other gear that you will need to be prepared as a golfer. Let’s take a look at the items that should be on your shopping list.
This is the best place to start, as you aren’t going to get off the first tee without clubs in your bag. The rules of golf allow you to carry a total of 14 clubs in any round. Although you can carry less if you so choose. At the very minimum, you’ll want a driver and three wood, at least a few irons, a wedge, and a putter. Most likely, you’ll want to build a complete set right from the start, filling in all 14 slots. Golf is hard enough as it is – you don’t want to make it any harder by not having all the clubs you need to get the job done.
Quite obviously, you can’t play this game without golf balls in your bag. As a beginner, it would be a mistake to purchase the most expensive golf balls on the shelf, as you don’t yet have the skills you use those golf balls correctly. The best golf balls for beginners are low-price options for now and move up as your game develops.
You aren’t going to carry all of those clubs around loose in your hands, so you need a bag to keep everything together. You should be able to find a used bag available for quite cheap, or you might be able to find a beginner set that comes with a bag.
Some people skip over this investment, thinking they can just play in their sneakers. That’s a bad idea. Golf shoes are designed with the swinging motion in mind, and they do a good job of supporting your body and helping you to stay balanced and grounded. You don’t have to buy fancy, expensive golf shoes, but it is a good idea to invest in a quality pair.
It’s important to remember that you will need to have something to wear on the course. At nice public courses and private country clubs, you will probably need to adhere to a dress code – consult the rules of each course to determine what that code looks like. Even if there is no dress code to consider, you’ll still want to be comfortable and prepared for the elements. Carry a jacket and umbrella if rain is possible, and dress appropriately for the forecaster temperatures.
Various other accessories
Finally, there are other small items that you’ll want to pick up before you really get started in golf. Things like tees, head covers, gloves, and towels are all relatively inexpensive. You can make your day out on the links more successful.
Make no mistake – you are going to need to spend a bit of money if you are going to get started in golf. With that said, this game doesn’t have to be quite as expensive as you might think, based on its reputation. You don’t need the best golf driver or even the best golf gloves in order to get started in this game. Take some time to shop around and be sure to consider used gear as a great way to limit your spending.
Learning to Practice
We’ve already mentioned the difficulty that is inherent in this game. It’s not going to be easy to raise your game to a higher level, and simply heading out onto the course for one round after the next is not going to get the job done. Rather, you are going to need to practice. And, in golf, practice means visiting the driving range. As a beginner, the driving range can be your best friend in terms of helping you progress towards the goals you have set for yourself.
Unfortunately, many new golfers – and some experienced golfers – waste much of their time on the practice range. If you don’t know how to practice correctly, you’ll just be hitting shot after shot without making much real progress. We don’t want that to be the case for you, so we’ve assembled the list below to help you get the most out of your practice sessions.
Every shot has a purpose. This sounds simple enough, but it is a rule that most golfers fail to follow. With a whole bucket of golf balls sitting on the ground in front of you, the temptation will be to fire through them as quickly as possible, making one swing after the next with very little break in-between. This kind of ‘practice’ is not beneficial in the long run. Instead, make sure every single shot has a purpose, just as it would on the course. Pick out a specific target, decide which club to use for that target, and make a quality swing. Even if you don’t hit your target successfully, you will still have put in effort that should start to pay off at some point.
Use all of your clubs. Many new golfers fall in love with the driver when they start to practice at the range. Since the driver is the club which is capable of hitting the longest shots, it is a fun one to hit. Of course, there is nothing wrong with hitting some drivers as part of each practice session but be sure to give the rest of your clubs a chance, as well.
Consistency is essential. Golf is not your day job. It’s not realistic to think you’ll be able to get out and practice every single day, or anything like that. However, you should make an effort to practice on a somewhat regular basis, so you can continue to build on the progress that you have made during previous practice sessions. For instance, if you could make time in your schedule to practice once per week, that would be a great way to build a base of skills in this game. Try to pick out one day of the week that usually provides some time to get out to the range for a practice session. If you can stick with this once-per-week pattern, you may be surprised to find how quickly and dramatically you can improve.
Consider asking for help. As part of your practice sessions, you might want to occasionally seek help from a golf professional. Most driving range facilities offer lessons for a fee, and that fee can be seen as a worthy investment in your future ability. If you are interested in lessons, ask if the driving range you visit has any lesson packages specifically designed for beginners.
It is important to think of every visit to the driving range as an opportunity to improve. You shouldn’t take these chances for granted, because golf is a tough game and you need to work hard if you are going to get better. If you can’t get to the range as often as you like, investing in a golf practice net may be a good way to carve out some practice time at home. By making the most of your practice opportunities, you’ll be able to gradually improve your performance – and you’ll see how much fun this game can be when you start to make pars and birdies.
On-Course Golf Tips for Beginners
In the previous section, we talked about how important it is to practice your golf game properly if you are going to improve. That is certainly true, but you’ll also need to have a good plan when you go out onto the course in order to see positive results. Some new golfers manage to develop nice skills on the range – only to panic on the course and see everything go out the window. The course can be an intimidating place for a new golfer, so we hope the advice below will help you get comfortable and perform your best in short order.
Forget about the opinions of others. Are you going to be a good golfer when first getting started in this game? No – probably not. And that’s okay! You should not be ashamed of your lacking skills as a beginner. It’s expected that you are going to struggle, and everyone else on the course has gone through those same struggles at one point or another. Rather than being embarrassed and hesitant to play with better golfers, you should seek out those kinds of players as an opportunity to learn. Playing in the same group as a better golfer will help you learn how accomplished players go about the business of getting the ball from tee to green. The sooner you can put away your ego and open yourself up to playing with good golfers, the sooner you’ll be able to learn valuable lessons.
You don’t have to use your driver on every hole. New golfers seem to think that every par four or par five hole needs to start with a big swing of the driver. That is not the case. While the driver has the potential for big power, it can also send your ball dramatically off-target. If you are still struggling to learn how to control your driver, try using less club in order to keep the ball somewhere in the fairway. Go ahead and use your driver on the wide holes while going down to a shorter club when the course gets narrow.
Stay clear of hazards. It’s easy to think that you have to take on every challenge you find on the course, but that’s not how golf works. You get to decide what path you are going to take to complete a hole, and sometimes that means playing away from the eventual target just to stay out of trouble. A perfect example of this concept is a hole which is guarded in the front by water. Do you have to attempt a long approach over the water and onto the green? Absolutely not! It’s perfectly fine to lay up in a position that will provide you with an easier approach shot. One of your main goals as a beginning player should be to avoid losing golf balls. If you can keep your ball in play and out of trouble, you’ll be taking a big step in the right direction.
Play during off-peak times. If possible, try to book your tee times when the golf course isn’t going to be too busy, such as during a weekday afternoon. By playing when the course is quiet, you can take your time and focus on your own development. A busy golf course is going to mean you’ll have to keep up with the pace of play of those around you, and that might be tough as a beginner. Take the pressure off by finding a time to play when the course is relatively quiet and peaceful.
More than anything else, it is experience that you need if you are going to get comfortable on the golf course. As you gain experience, you will feel more and more at home on the links – and that comfort is going to help you play better. With each round that goes by, you’ll learn more about this game, and you will probably continue to have more fun, as well.
The Value of the Short Game
In golf, any shot played on or near the green is classified as a ‘short game shot’. These kinds of shots are incredibly important in terms of determining your score at the end of the day. Despite their importance in terms of your score, many golfers dramatically underestimate the value of the short game – and they fail to practice it frequently as a result. Don’t make that mistake. If you take only one thing away from this article, let it be the lesson that you need to focus intently on the short game if you are going to become a good player.
Any discussion of the short game needs to start with the putter. Putting is tremendously important because it is a skill that you are going to use on nearly every hole you ever play. Do your best to start and finish each practice session with at least a few minutes of putting, if not more. When you practice your putting, work on both long and short putts, as you’ll need to handle both types of putts well if you are going to elevate your level of play. Beginning golfers notoriously struggle with short putts, so be sure to make this area of the game a top priority early on.
As if learning to putt wasn’t challenging enough on its own, you’ll also need to learn how to chip the ball correctly. When you miss the green with your approach shot, you will need to hit a chip – this is usually a shot of less than 10 yards or so which is played from just off the side of the green. Your chip shots will typically be hit with one of your wedges, although you might decide to use a longer club in some situations. Just as with putting, you will need to invest some quality time in learning how to chip, as this is another part of the game that traditionally gives beginning golfers fits.
A Word on Attitude
Perhaps the most important thing you can bring to the process of becoming a golfer is a positive attitude. That might be a little bit cheesy, or sound like a cliche, but it is true. We’ve talked extensively in this article about how golf is a hard game, and that difficulty is going to get you down from time to time. If you allow yourself to think negatively, it will be easy to spiral down into an area of self-doubt and frustration. You need to stay away from that kind of attitude. Yes, golf is hard, but it is not impossible – if you stay positive and stick with it, you’ll get better in the long run.
If there is one thing which ties all golfers together, it is the shared understanding of the struggle that this game presents. No one just picks up a club for the first time and starts shooting under par scores that same day. Golf is hard for everyone – even the top pros had to start somewhere. In a way, you should take pride in the struggles that you are going through at the start of your golf experience, as they are part of what makes you a true golfer. Without those struggles, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the successes which are to come down the line.
Those great shots you hit later on, and those great rounds you play, are only sweet because you know how hard it was to get to that point. Golf would not be the game it is without the significant challenge that it presents. It’s the difficulty that makes it great, and most golfers cite the challenge of the game as one thing that keeps them coming back time after time.
We hope you now have a better understanding of how to play golf than you did at the start of the article. Are you now ready to win the championship at your local club? No – probably not. You don’t even need to rush out to buy the best golf rangefinder just yet, although a distance measuring device of some kind could be a good investment. This is a game that develops slowly, each step along the way requiring plenty of hard work and determination. Progress in golf may not come quickly, but it is extremely satisfying when it does come along. Good luck out there and have fun getting started in this wonderful game!