Beginner Golf: What You Need to Know Before You Start
by Megan Hart
From spending time with friends and colleagues to staying active, there are plenty of reasons to take up golf. Getting started, however, can be intimidating. Though some outsiders may see golf as a sport with lots of lingo, complicated rules, and expensive equipment, don’t let that stop you. You might be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to start playing, and get hooked!
If you’re considering taking up the game, here’s some advice that’ll make you feel more comfortable at the range or on the course. Don’t forget: having fun is what it’s all about!
Get the Right Equipment
Golf equipment can be expensive, but you don’t need to invest in the whole shebang when you’re starting out. The driving range is a great place to start practicing and luckily, most ranges rent clubs.
Once you’re a little more committed to the game, you can start building your own golf bag. USGA rules stipulate that players can carry up to 14 clubs in their bag, but you won’t need that many if you’re a beginner. Just start with the basics: a driver, an iron set, and a putter. There’s nothing wrong with buying used clubs, as long as they’re the right size. You don’t need to splurge on a fancy golf bag, either. A smaller option, called a Sunday bag, is a great choice for beginners.
If you’re heading to the course, don’t forget to bring tees and golf balls! Like all beginners, you will likely go through a lot of balls when you’re starting out. Even the Pros lose quite a few balls, it’s all part of the game! Heading to the driving range? Don’t worry about bringing balls, you can purchase a bucket of balls to use while on the range from the course!
To help save some money, you might want to consider purchasing used ones. Pro tip: X-outs are an affordable alternative to expensive, new golf balls. They’re simply new balls with cosmetic flaws that prevent the manufacturers from selling them at full price, and they’re available at many discount golf stores!
One last thing that a lot of beginners worry about is their shoes. Unless you’re going to a very traditional course with a strict dress code, you don’t need to wear golf shoes. Sneakers will do just fine when you’re starting out. As you improve and begin golfing more regularly, investing in better equipment is a great decision.
Take a Lesson
The driving range is a great place to start practicing. If you have a friend or family member who golfs, invite them along and ask them to share some pointers. If you decide to stick with it after a trip or two to the range, consider investing in a lesson. Here’s a quick tip – the 18Birdies app is free to use and has a variety of incredible teaching aids for every level of golfer!
If they’re in the budget, private lessons or golf school programs can make a huge difference in your long-term success on the course. A qualified golf pro can help make sure good habits stick from the very beginning, which is much easier than correcting bad ones down the road.
Don’t be afraid to check out instructional books, YouTube videos, and the 18Birdies app to supplement your training and learn useful tips.
As a beginner, it’ll likely take a few practice sessions at the driving range and on the putting green before you’re ready to play a round. Once you’re feeling confident, get out there and play!
If there’s a par-3 course in your area, that’s a great place to start. If not, look for a course that will allow you to play nine holes instead of the full 18. Try booking a tee time for later in the day, when the course is less crowded so that you won’t feel as rushed and can focus on your game. You can search for tee times in the 18Birdies app based on your location, see all times available, and book right then!
As you’re getting started, use the forward set of tees, which are typically marked with red. Once known as the “ladies tees,” they’re actually used by players of both genders. Playing the forward tees cuts the distance of the course, and is used by people of all levels!
Also, don’t feel obligated to keep score when you’re starting out and remember that you can always pick up your ball if you’re struggling on a hole. In fact, even experienced golfers will take a pick up from time to time. One of our favorite golf clubs is the “foot-wedge”, sometimes you just need a good kick into the fairway!
Master Golf Course Etiquette
Etiquette is an important part of golf. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be intimidating! Pointers are easy to learn after a little practice, and it’ll go a long way with other golfers on the course. Here are some do’s and don’t’s to help you get started.
- Check the club’s dress code in advance.
- Silence your cell phone before the first tee.
- Yell “Fore!” if it looks like your ball might be heading toward another player.
- Watch each tee shot to help avoid lost balls.
- Replace divots or fill them with sand.
- Rake the bunker after using it.
- Fix ball marks on the green.
- Let another group play through if they’re faster than you.
- Stand behind a player who is teeing off.
- Take more than one or two practice swings.
- Spend more than a few minutes looking for a lost ball.
- Try more than two or three times to get your ball out of the bunker. Rather, take a drop or pick it up. (We all do it!)
Golf is whatever you want it to be: social, relaxing, competitive, a way to get outside, exciting. Whether you are a teen or beginning your golf adventure further down the road, just get out there and golf!