One of the most intimidating factors about being a new golfer is all that there is to learn. There are rules, and swing techniques, and etiquette. The equipment seems foreign and there are hundreds of options to choose from. The scoring can be tricky and the Handicap system is way more complicated than you can even imagine. It’s enough to make even the most dedicated new golfer decide boating may be a better choice. The good news is that you don’t need to learn it all right away, you don’t even need to learn it all in the first year. The really great golfers have probably spent their lifetime playing this game, learning it, enjoying it. There are however a few important things to get you on the right track when you first start this game.
- The Equipment: You don’t need it all and you don’t need the most expensive products. Your friend just bought $1800 Titleist set of irons, please know this will not help your game as a beginner. Sometimes it pays to find a decent used set of clubs (made for beginners) until you decide what you really like and what works for your game. You will find that some clubs are more visually appealing than others and that can become a preference for you but you won’t know this in the beginning. Make sure you have the basics of a Driver, Fairway Wood, a few irons a wedge and a Putter. The rest can be figured out at a later time.
- The Rules: Every golfer should read the rule book from front to back at some point in their golfing career. Having a general understanding of how the rules work, how scoring is affected by water hazards and out of bounds is really important. At the very least make sure to put a rule book in your golf bag so you can find the answers to your questions.
- Scoring: Scoring can be a controversial topic. Golf is a game of honesty. It’s a game when you sometimes have to call penalties on yourself and it really can weed out the good from the bad when it comes to people. In the beginning don’t keep score. It’s not worth the stress and it won’t help you get any better. When you start making a bogey here and there (one over par), that is the time to start. When you do start keeping score, be very strict about it, it is the only indicator you have as to if you are getting better. You will need this information as you test out new practice routines, new equipment and new swing techniques. If you shoot 125, so be it, it will feel that much better when you shoot 99.
- Learning: Lessons are extremely important. They can be expensive but it’s the best money you will spend in the beginning. Even finding a local class or clinic will help make the game so much more enjoyable when you take it to the course. Developing bad habits happens really fast in the game of golf. You can play five times and have a terrible new habit to break, getting a few lessons before this happens is the smartest idea.
- Short Game: Watching the pro’s hit it 350 yards is probably one of the things that has inspired you to pick up the sport. There is something insanely addictive about crushing a ball down the center of the fairway. What you will quickly learn is that missing 3-foot putts is enough to make anyone put those shiny new clubs in the corner of the garage. Practice your putting stroke as much as you can. Chip in your back yard, putt on your living room carpet. Learn to love those little shots because you will be using them to score and save you from some of your mishits in the beginning.
- Start Small: You should not be playing Pebble Beach or Bandon Dunes your first week out. Find a local par 3 course or a “pitch and putt”. These are great places to get out there and give it a try. Many golf courses across the country are now doing six-hole loops to attract newer golfers. These loops don’t take very long to play, it gives you an idea of what you need to work on and allows you to get yourself adjusted to the game.
- Picking Up: As we mentioned earlier, scoring is not important in the beginning. If you have tried that trusty 7 iron three times in a row and advanced a total of 10 yards, pick it up. Let your playing partners know that you are just going to drop up by the green and hit a chip and a putt. Don’t torture yourself, you cannot learn this game in a weekend. The people you are playing with are mostly going to be concerned with your pace of play. Great golfers do not care what new golfers shoot as long as they don’t’ spend the day waiting on them.
- Stretching: The golf swing will be new for your body. You do not want to step out on the first tee and rip a driver as well as several muscles in your back. The stretching for warming up to play is very simple, do a few shoulder, leg and neck stretches but make sure your body is warmed up properly. The professionals spend a lot of time before a tournament or round making sure their body is ready to get the job done, beginners should be doing the same.
- Being prepared for the course: You have played baseball and hockey your whole life this will be easy. Well its certainly not a high impact sport but if you are going to go play 18 holes in the summer (walking) you better bring some water and snacks to get you through. Golf is not strenuous but it does burn quite a few calories over a 5 (hopefully less) hour round. Make sure you have sunscreen on and that your clothing is optimized for golf. Looking the part is super important!
- Advice: You are going to get a lot of advice. We just gave you 9 Tips packed with information that you have to process. Your friends are absolutely going to tell you to keep your head down and tuck your left shoulder under. These tips can be scary. When your friend is teaching you how to hit a shot that he can’t hit you know you are in trouble. (See step 4: TAKE A LESSON). The best thing to do with unsolicited advice is to be polite but try not to let it all get in your head at the same time. If someone gives you a tip that seems to work, go with it for a while. As a general rule of thumb, if you have friends or family that are breaking 80, its generally safe to listen to some of what they say.
Here at Blue Tees Golf we are not sure what we would do without the game of golf. As overwhelming as things can be in the beginning make sure to stick with it. When you make your first birdie you will never be so glad you chose to stick with such a crazy sport!