A Beginner’s Guide to Golf

how to play golf

Beginners can often be a little overwhelmed when approaching golf for the first time. There are many different rules and clubs, as well as a considerable amount of golf terminology to learn. To help you appear to be a pro from your very first swing, we’re offering a beginner’s guide to golf that every rookie should read.

Limit Your Clubs

Every golfer can carry up to 14 golf clubs in their bag yet you probably won’t need that many when playing for the first time. We recommend all newbies start with a:

  • Driver
  • Putter
  • Sand wedge

You can also supplement the above clubs with either a 6-iron, 8-iron, pitching wedge, fairway wood or a hybrid that offers 18 to 21 degrees loft. Unsure about the best clubs to get started? We suggest browsing the top clubs for 2017.

Try Before You Buy

Don’t be afraid to try a golf club before you buy it. Pop into a golf shop or driving range and ask to try a 6-iron or 8-iron to see what feels the easiest to swing and control. It’s a great way to see what type of club works best for your body and capabilities and allow you to enjoy a productive game of golf.

Use More Loft

It’s wise to opt for woods that offer more loft as it will be much easier to hit the ball into the air. What’s more, it can reduce any sidespin that could cause the shot to fly at a straight angle. We recommend choosing a driver with a minimum 10-degree loft and opt for fairway woods that begin at 17 degrees.

Buy Beginners’ Golf Clubs

A professional golf club will not make you a pro golfer until you know how to use it and buying one may hamper your performance. Start the sport by initially investing in a club made for beginners. A hybrid is often an ideal choice for rookies over a 3, 4 or 5 iron. Also, you can pick up an iron with a wide sole to prevent it from sticking to the ground should you hit too far behind the ball. The most forgiving irons incorporate a sole that is the width of your two fingers from its front edge to the back.

Pick the Best Balls

The golf balls you choose should be determined by how many balls you lose on average per round. If this is your first time playing golf, we recommend buying balls that cost approximately $20 per dozen. If you only lose three or four balls per round, you could buy gold balls that cost less than $30 per dozen. If you only lose one sleeve per round, you can afford to pay a little more by investing in $40 for a dozen balls.

Take Golf Lessons

There is no reason why you should not take golf lessons from an experienced golfer. Beginners are often the best students as they have not developed any of the bad habits that are tough to overcome. A professional can develop your potential as they can point out where you are going wrong and help you to improve your game. Not only must they be knowledgeable and dedicated, but they must also match your personality. Remember, you will spend a considerable amount of time on the course together, it is important that you get on.

Develop a Range Routine

Many first-time golfers will start forcefully swinging their drivers on a driving range hoping to achieve a superb distance immediately. Beware, this tactic can harm your development. Instead, grab a short iron or wedge and warm up your muscles with some half-swings. As you warm up, you will increase both your length and swing speed before moving onto a middle iron and then a driver. Ideally, you should then slowly work your way back down to the wedge or short iron.

Channel Your Athletic Instincts

While it’s important to consider the swinging instructions, you shouldn’t ignore your athletic instincts either. Golf is a mentally challenging game in comparison to other sports. However, it does also require athletic ability, so try not to get too wrapped up in the details or ignore your body’s instincts.

Practice the Short Shots

On average, half of your strokes will come within 50 yards of the green. It follows then that you should dedicate 50% of your golfing practice to using your wedge and putter. While practicing the short shots might seem a little boring, it also means you can practice the shots in your home or backyard. Improve your short shots by placing various buckets in a small space at different yards, with the aim of pitching the balls into them.

Pitch or Chip

An experienced golfer knows when he or she should pitch or chip during a short shot. A pitch shot will fly high and will not roll too much; however, a chip will remain low while running along the green. Only use a chip when the ball doesn’t need to go over an obstacle and if you have a considerable amount of green between both you and the hole. That said if you need a ball to stop at a faster rate or to go over an obstacle, opt for the pitch shot.

Don’t Overthink

There are many instructions golfers must remember but don’t get too caught up in the details when starting out. Not only can this ruin your enjoyment but it can also ruin a game too. You will learn the rules the more you play. In the meantime, try to focus on your posture and ball position before making a swing.

Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon

Every beginner should start by playing on a par three course or an executive course. Don’t rush in by testing your skills on an 18-hole course, or you may want to retire your golf clubs for good before you have even left the green. Par three courses offer par three holes, which are commonly less than 200 yards. While an executive course will have par three holes, as well as par fours and fives that are often much shorter than they are on a championship course.

Select the Best Golf Course

The golf course you choose can make or break your experience. To ensure you have a positive experience the first time you play look for a beginner course that is both short and flat. Also, ensure it doesn’t feature any hazards or waste areas that you need to hit a ball over. Leave the tougher courses for later on.

Maintain the Golf Course Pace

It may be that a golf course will require you to finish 18 holes within four-and-a-half hours. To do so, try to limit your game to a select number of strokes per hole, such as seven. Seasoned golfers will understand if you’re new to the game, so there’s no shame in picking up a ball and moving on. If anything, they’ll respect you more for it.

Show Patience

We understand you will want to continue with a game as soon as possible, but you must show some patience when on a golf course. Be willing to wait your turn when on the green, as different golfers will play at different places.

Shout Out

Golf can be a dangerous game, which is why you must shout out if you think a ball could hit a fellow golfer. It’s common practice to shout “Fore!” when a golfer hits a ball astray on the course. Don’t whisper the warning, either. Shout it out at the top of your voice to ensure a person hears you. It can also be helpful to yell its direction, such as “Fore left!” or “Fore right!”

Care for a Course

All golfers have a responsibility to care for a course, as they will want to enjoy it for many years to come. A lot of love and care is required to make the green look as good as it does, so you must do your part to help maintain its appearance. For example, if you are in a golf cart, double check that is okay to drive the cart onto the grass or if you are only allowed on the cart path. Also, you must never attempt to drive a cart onto the putting green.

If you do take a divot (remove a piece of turf during a shot), place the turf back into the spot and press it down with your foot. Alternatively, fill the hole with seed mix. Don’t forget to rake the bunker once you have hit out of it, so other golfers don’t have to struggle with your footprints during a shot.

Identify the Best Place to Stand

Golfers are often particular about where fellow golfers stand during their shot as they will not want anyone to get hurt. It’s good practice to stand to the side of a golfer, but several yards behind them. Should a golfer be in a bunker, you must stand as far to the side as possible while remaining aware of their movements. When on the green, you must aim to stay out of a golfer’s line of sight during putting.


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