April 9, 2021

boy holding golf club in front of crouching woman

While deciding to start playing golf is easy, it needs to happen with respect and understanding of the game. Golf is a fun game and meant to be entertaining; however, learning how to play golf can often be overwhelming and frustrating, especially for beginners.

With that being said, there is one simple thing you should note: Golf is one of the most challenging sports out there. Golf professional players who have played for many years still hit bad shots. For this reason, you should never expect perfection when learning how to play golf. Instead, it would be helpful if you worked on becoming better.

You need to take note of the mistakes you make, accept them, and learn. Most importantly, it would be best to manage your expectations because starting the game with very high expectations is a recipe for disaster. What most people don't understand is there is a process of building a lifelong love of golf.

During the process of learning how to play golf, you’ll want to start by understanding some of the basic rules and techniques for swinging a club and hitting the ball. Hopefully, this guide will help you understand what you should know before setting your foot on the green and also how to play golf while on the golf course.

But first, here are a few things you should know about golf;

  • You can play golf with a group or solo.
  • It takes about 2 to 5 hours to play one round of golf. However, the time may vary depending on several factors.
  • Not every golf course is 18 holes. Some are larger while others smaller.
  • Some golf courses are really strict with their attire. Check ahead of time.
  • If you're a beginner, it is not advisable to engage in competitive games.

1. Finding The Right Equipment

Finding the right equipment can be easy for some people and challenging for others, especially when you're hoping not to spend a lot of money. However, this shouldn't be a problem since you can pick up an older or second-hand set. These sets are often available at a reduced amount.

Here are some tips you should consider;

a). Start with a few clubs

As much as you're allowed to carry as many as 14 clubs in your bag, you won't be needing most of them while learning. Getting more than five clubs is not recommended for beginners, especially if you're on a budget. These clubs should include a seven iron, nine iron, sand wedge, gap wedge, and a putter. The sand wedge should be 56 degrees, whereas the gap wedge should be 52 degrees.

b). Try Before You Buy any Golf Club

If you're a beginner, a local golf shop is a great place to test your clubs. This is because you can easily take a few swings to determine if the golf club is for you. Ideally, the more aggressive and faster the swing is, the more you prefer a shaft labeled stiff. A great club should be easier to control. For a good player who can make consistent contact with the golf ball, club fitting will help get the most out of the equipment.

c). Find the proper shaft flex and club head

There are two vital areas to consider when finding the right clubs;

  • Club heads are cavity-backed with perimeter weighting. This is one of the straightforward ways to get your golf ball into the air.
  • The measure of the flex on the shaft. Clubs usually have different types of shafts, including senior, regular, ladies, stiff, and extra stiff. You can ask professional golfers the shaft that is best for you.

d). The higher the loft, the better

As a golfer who is just starting, you need to opt for woods that have more loft. The more the loft, the easier it is to get the ball in the air. Moreover, the extra loft can help reduce the sidespin, which means the shots will fly straighter. It is recommended to choose drivers that have fairway woods that start at 17 degrees, not 15 degrees, and at least 10 degrees of loft.

e). Choose the Right Golf Ball

If you're going to buy golf balls, then you need to consider how many balls you lose in one round. If you're a beginner or a golfer who loses two or more sleeves per round, then you should buy the cheaper ball. As you progress and cut down the number of lost balls, you can consider buying the pricier balls.

f). Ask For Help

It is appropriate to seek professional help before buying any golf equipment. When you visit a local shop to buy your equipment, ask a knowledgeable staff member to explain the differences between the different equipment. These people are an excellent resource for choosing the right equipment that you’ll need.

2. Learning How to Play Golf

While the most challenging part of playing golf is getting started, the game becomes more manageable once you start. You ought to question yourself why you want to play-Is it for social reasons, or you want to get better fast? If it is for social reasons, then you will only need some basic instructions and patients. However, if you're hoping to get better at it, then you may need plenty of top-level instruction.

The other question you need to ask yourself is- How much am I willing to put into the golf game? This means in terms of money and time because there's a big difference between wanting to have fun and becoming a serious player. Here are some tips that will make learning easier;

a). Take Lessons

When you're just starting, you probably don't know much about golf and have tons of questions about what you should do. It is crucial to start in the right direction, don't only ask for instructions when you're struggling.

The most important thing is to know what you're doing wrong as well as what you're doing right. Although your golf partners or friends might be a good resource for your game, it's better to seek help from a PGA professional since they are trained to teach the game of golf.

b). Get a range routine

As much as everyone wants to see how far they can hit the ball, it is vital to resist the temptation when you go to the driving range. For a beginner, swinging the golf club at a maximum distance will only throw you out of sync.

You can begin by hitting the short irons and warming up your muscles with the half-swings. Then, you can work your way up by increasing the length the speed of your golf swing and move on to your middle irons. After you hit some balls, you can go back to a short iron or wedge. By doing this, you can keep your tension and tempo in check.

c). Learn the short shots of the Golf game

The good thing about short shots is that you can practice them anywhere, including your backyard or any free room in your house. To learn how to play the short shots at home, you need to put some buckets at different distances and try to put the balls into them.

Assume you're on the golf course; however, you need to note that your carpet may not be as fast as the greens. Although, you can still practice rolling and aiming balls into the furniture legs and through doorways.

d). Go back to basics when in doubt

As a beginner golfer, you will find a lot of information out there for you to take in. It can get you thinking too much about what to do and what not to do on the golf course. When you find yourself overwhelmed from too much thinking, the best solution would be going back to the golf basics.

Going back to basics involves checking the ball position and posture, getting a good golf setup, and making a relaxed swing. Avoid over-thinking and manage your stress level because it will only create tension on the golf course. You can also waggle the golf club at the address and try making smooth moves off the ball.

3. Using Your Woods & Irons

Once you have all the necessary golf equipment and have established a range routine, it's time to understand the four golf swing tips to have in mind while hitting the woods and the irons.

a). Note that Golf Ball Positioning Determines the Ball Flight

Where you place the golf ball will determine the path and how it relates to the target line. For example, if the ball is far back in the stance, it might fly low and become susceptible to a hook path of flight. Ideally, when using an iron, the best position is slightly ahead of the center of the sternum.

This is because if you position the golf ball further than this, it might lead to topping the golf shots due to weak contact. However, the club will dictate where the ball is placed in your stance. In cases where you're using a driver, you can tee the ball and place it inside your front foot’s heel. This encourages an upswing at impact.

To get better at this, you need to experiment with your iron and woods to know the level of competence with your golf swing and find the best placement for your swing.

b). Bend From The Waist to achieve a Better Posture

When learning how to play golf, you may want to be natural as well as maintain a straight back for correct posture. Bending from the waist is required to help with balancing and also to allow the golf club to take a natural path around your body.

One thing you don't want to do is to stay rigid and lock the back unto an inflexible position. Most people often slump their upper body during swinging of the golf club, which is wrong. When you have your back straight, the feet are vital for maintaining balance throughout the swing.

It would be easier if you also had your feet shoulder-width apart to allow your hips to engage and aid in a complete and proper takeaway. Moreover, a stable foundation will help the clubface to square at impact and the hips to clear.

c). Feet Positioning Depending on The Golf Ball

A common mistake that amateur golfers make is a lack of understanding of how your feet relate to the golf ball will affect the outcome of the swing. Generally, if your feet are below the golf ball, you are susceptible to drawing or pushing the ball to the left of your intended target.

On the other hand, if your feet are higher than the golf ball, then you are likely to fade or find it moving to the right of the intended target. It would be helpful if you made adjustments to the intended target line and your alignment. During your practice, it is essential to find similar areas to train your swing in both situations.

d). Find out Your Distances With Each Golf Club

Knowing the distances you will get with each club might need time. This is because you constantly find yourself becoming stronger as the fundamental approach becomes well-rounded and tighter. However, as you continue to become better with your swing, it is essential to note the yardage area where you find your shots landing.

This will allow you to make adjustments depending on the structure of every hole. Another crucial thing to note is your distances with variations to your swing when using your wedges. This is because three-quarter swings and half-swings give you different yardage with different clubs. Knowing the correct yardage will also come in handy when you need to save par by enabling you to come closer to the hole.

4. Putting

When it comes to a golf game, especially a short game, repetition is crucial. Correctly putting the golf ball is all about consistent repetition and technique. The more work and time you put on practicing your putting stroke, the better you’ll become when such shots are in competitive play. Here are some tips you should consider;

a). Master Your Grip

The putting grip is not similar to the one for the swing. Instead of overlapping our pinky fingers, we try to create a stable point from where the putter should swing. There are several putting grips that are common among golfers;

  • The traditional grip that Tiger Woods loves
  • The cross-handed grip that professional golfers like Jim Furyk adopt.
  • Split handed and claw grip where the hand at the bottom hold the putter as a writing pen

You need to consult with your golf coach when choosing the grip for an approach that works best for you. It is important to note that putting is mostly about reading the green, adapting your stroke to the swing speed, and later breaking the putt demands.

b). Calm Your Body

For your putting to be successful, you need to work on your stance. To be able to do this, the ball should be slightly forward of the center of your stance, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Always keep your head still.

To practice calming down your body, you will need two alignment rods, or if you don't have rods, you can use and create a lane to the hole. Take the rods, place them slightly outside every edge of the cup but ensure they are wider than your putter's width.

Place your golf ball several inches in the opening of the lane. The rods will act as physical boundaries to keep you on a straight arc. Hitting a number of such putts with every short game during your practice sessions will help create the muscle memory required to have the putting aligned and in tune.

5. Chipping in Golf

When golfers think of how to shave the strokes from their scores, they tend to ignore one major area that is through chipping shots from off the green. Although chipping isn't attractive as hitting 300-yard drives or drain 50-foot putts, to improve your game, it is vital to be efficient with chipping around the hole.

a). A Unique Grip For a Better Contact

A common problem that golfers face when chipping has weak contact. Some beginners tend to hit behind the ball, which causes a chunk on the chip. It is also common for beginners to hit the upper half of the ball, which may lead to a thin shot commonly referred to as a blade, which is challenging to control.

One of the ways to eliminate such issues is first to use your putting grip while holding the club. This helps in creating confidence because of using a grip that they are comfortable with.

b). Firm Wrists

Once you have an established grip, next, you want to understand the relation between the ball placement and the location of wrists at impact. You should avoid trying to lift the ball with the clubface instead of finishing the stroke and leaving the loft of the club to do the work.

This is the reason why having strong wrists is important while striking the golf ball. When you're wrists are not firm and the clubface is not down, it might cause the chunks and blades that we are all hoping to avoid.

c). Putting The Golf Ball Back In The Stance

One of the ways to save strokes for a beginner golfer is chipping with efficiency from off the green. During the process of addressing the golf ball for chipping, a number of golfers tend to take a tight stance using their feet. It leaves the ball in the back of the stance such that their hands press forward at an impact.

When you place the ball back in the stance, the clubface traps and sends it low with topspin, where it becomes easier to control; the focus should be on the speed because it relates to the distance of the hole.

The main aim is to stop the putt close to the hole, not to make the putt. When you consistently get the chips closer to the hole, you minimize the distance of your final putts, which means more pars and eliminates common problems like double and triple bogeys. An excellent opportunity to lower your scores quickly is becoming comfortable with chipping in your early stages of the golfing journey.

6. Understanding the Basic Golf Shots

When you're hoping to play golf either professionally or just for fun, you need to under the basic shots around the green and have the ability to stay cool even when things get ugly.

a). Chip Shots and Pitch Shots

Whenever you make a short shot to the green, you will hit either a chip or a pitch. A chip will stay low and run along the ground, while a pitch shot goes higher and won't roll as much. A chip should be used when there is no need to carry the ball over an obstacle, for example, a bunker. It is also used when you have a lot of green between the hole and yourself.

When you need to stop the golf ball faster or have to carry it over something, then you need to use a pitch shot. This is because the additional height on a pitch shot allows it to stop faster and land softer.

b). A Bunker Golf Shot

This is one of the golf shots that you don't hit the ball. Instead, you swing the club to the sand behind the ball, and the sand will push it out. This why to achieve this bunker shot, you need to swing a bit harder because the sand slows down the clubhead.

A simple technique you can use: You need to use your sand wedge to stand such that the golf ball is even with your front instep, then twist your feet for stability and focus on a spot that is approximately two inches behind the ball. Then, swing the golf club back about halfway, down, and through the spot behind the ball. Your body should keep turning so your chest faces the target at the finish.

c). Use your athletic instincts to Play Golf

It is common for golfers to focus so much on the instructions for making the swing and losing their athleticism. Compared to other sports, the game of golf might be more of a mental game; however, the swing is still an athletic movement. Here are some athleticism tips you need to know;

  • At address, stand with your legs lively and your balanced weight front to back and left to right, just like a defender in basketball.
  • On the backswing, have your arms stretched back and the body coiled from top to bottom.
  • On the downswing, have your wrists firm and hands leading the clubhead into the ball be like a hockey player who is hitting a slap shot.

d). If you feel lost, go back to chipping

Learning how to play golf can be frustrating, and this is why, whenever you feel overwhelmed, you need to go back to hit short chip shots. Chipping is the basis of the entire swing, and when the chipping motion is short and slow, you can easily understand what's happening.

7. Playing The Right Way

a). Warmup

It is important to arrive at the course no later than 30 minutes before your tee time. After taking care of your fees, take the first few minutes to stretch gently. To swing your golf club with consistency over the golf course of 18 holes requires flexibility.

Warming up the right muscles by doing a few stretches before hitting the balls is a great way to ensure that you won’t have to hit six holes before you find your stride. Do stretches that help loosen your back, calves, hamstrings, and arms as an excellent way to start the greatest game.

b). Start small

You can start on a par three course before trying an 18-hole golf course. On a par-3 course, the holes are par 3s which is less than 200 yards. You might find some executive courses that have multiple par-3 holes and par 4s and 5s that are shorter than the ones on a championship course. For someone who is just starting, it is important to get acclimated to the executive courses before taking on bigger challenges.

c). Attire

As a golfer, it is crucial always to be aware of the attire you're expected to have while you're playing at a golf club. Most clubs require you to have collared shirts, while some will only allow shorts, especially during the hottest months of the year.

Generally, you need to have a lightweight, collared golf shirt that features moisture-wicking properties to ensure you're dry throughout your game. Nowadays, these shirts are widely available and no longer expensive.

d). Start by Playing three holes

You should start by playing three holes in a nine golf course in the afternoon, whenever the course is less crowded, and the rates are cheaper. Some golf courses might not charge a three-hole rate, so you can play you are tired, then come back another day. Since golf is a kind of endurance sport, you need to build yourself up to playing 18 holes.

e). Choose the right course

This is a crucial step for any golfer but most important for a beginner golfer. This is because you don't want to choose a difficult golf course to learn how to play golf. It will only make you feel discouraged before you even reach the first green.

For golfers who are learning should find golf courses that are flat, short, and are not susceptible to many hazards or forced carries which include the waste areas or hazards that you must hit over to get to the fairway. Once you familiarize yourself with beginner-friendly golf courses, you can proceed to test yourself on tougher layouts. However, you should first give yourself enough time to gain some positive momentum.

f). Keep up the pace

A number of golf courses will require you to finish 18 holes in 4.5 hours. However, it is possible to do better than that. If you're hoping to maintain a decent pace, you should limit yourself to a certain number of strokes per hole. We would recommend a maximum of seven strokes for every hole.

g). Wait your turn

If all golfers on the golf course hit at the same time, it will only be a disaster and lead to confusion. It is important to find out who goes first. In a traditional setting, the person who had the best score on the previous round or hole was to tee off first. Then, the furthest person from the hole would hit next. However, this is entirely up to what your group decides.

h). Take Care of the Golf Course

It is vital to do your part in taking care of the course. You need to find out if it is okay to have the golf carts on the grass or if they should strictly remain on the cart path. If you take out a piece of turf while hitting a shot, you should put it back carefully in the spot and then firmly pressing down. You can also fill the hole with some seed mix. Shots on the putting green often leave a mark. If you're unaware of how to fix them right away, ask around.

i). Hydration and Food

All golfers need to pay attention to their nutrition. The recommended meals to eat for a round of golf are lean protein, for example, chicken, and carbohydrates like all-bran cereals or a banana.

When packing up your food, avoid sugary drinks and meals that are high in fats and salts. You should instead have low sugar options or lean towards healthier options like sliced apples with peanut butter. Ensure to eat and hydrate before the round and again at the turn or on the back nine, to maintain the concentration and energy required to play golf.

Conclusion

The game of golf can be challenging and complex, especially if you're want to engage in a full-fledged competition. If you're hoping to get better at it, you need to understand the basics of how to play golf. From choosing the right golf equipment to finding the right instructions or a coach, every beginner ought to understand that every club has to be approached in a measured and unique way.

When you make your way to the course to play, it is important to trust your approach, provided you have understood the basic rules and guidelines. Hopefully, the tips and drills we have outlined in this guide will make it easy to learn how to play golf and help you lower your scores with each practice session.

About the author 

Emma Johnson

I have been playing golf for over 20 years and I am crazy about all thing Golf equipment! I'm currently playing TaylorMade M6 Irons and TaylorMade M4 Driver. I just started playing with the Bridgestone RXS Tour golf balls. I currently play on HCP 6 and I'm mostly playing for fun at the moment, after playing some tournaments on the Amateur Tour and in local championships. I have worked part-time with TaylorMade and I really love their products. Send me an e-mail at emma@pineclubgolf.com or leave a comment down below if you want to get in contact with me!

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