Starting anything for the first time can be daunting. To help put the intimidation factor to bed here are some simple tips if you’re new to the game of golf:
- Each golf course has their own dress code. If you’re unsure what the appropriate clothes are for the course you’ll be playing at simply pick up the phone and call their pro shop. More often than not you’ll also see their dress code on their website.
- Standard golf apparel is basically the same – shirt with a collar, shorts or pants for guys, shorts, skirts, or pants for ladies. Keep in mind for the ladies that length can be an issue so try and keep it no more than a couple inches above the knee. Jeans and t-shirts are typically not allowed but that’s not always the case, and don’t forget that shirts more often than not are required to be tucked in. Again, be sure to ask just in case to save yourself from the embarrassment of being asked to change or leave.
- There are two types of golf shoes – spiked and spikeless. The spikeless style are relatively new and are much like a traditional athletic shoe but with a grippy sole. If you don’t have golf shoes, fear not. You can always wear regular athletic shoes until you are ready to make a purchase.
- Don’t have golf clothes but want to buy some? Online retailers and the pro shop at the course can get you all set! If you have time, be sure to shop around to find some good deals before paying.
- A golf glove isn’t necessary but it’s definitely worth it to have one so you don’t get a blister. Right handed golfers wear the glove on their left hand and left handed golfers wear their glove on the right hand. Gloves are always available in the pro shop for purchase. Many golfers take their glove off when putting but it’s purely a personal preference.
- Most courses have rental clubs available if you don’t own any. Call ahead and let them know you’ll want ot rent some clubs and be sure to indicate if you are right handed or left handed.
- If you did buy clubs you’re going to need a golf bag. As a beginner stick to a standard carry bag. These bags are nice and lightweight.
- Most golf courses have push carts for rental if you’d like to walk but also they’ll have electric carts to rent and ride in as well.
- You’re going to need some golf balls… and as a beginner, be sure to bring a few dozen in your bag. It’s okay if you lose a ball… we all do it!
A ROUND OF GOLF
- To make a tee time you can do so online or by phone direct to the pro shop. Generally speaking, weekends are much busier than weekdays but some courses have men’s or ladie’s clubs who play once a week and will take up a large portion of the daily tee times.
- Tee times range from early morning sunrise to what’s called twilight. Twilight rounds tend to be less expensive because there is a chance you won’t finish a whole round before the sun goes down.
- You can make a tee time at most courses for 9 holes or 18 holes. As a beginner don’t feel pressured to play a full 18. You can quit at any time during your round but keep in mind that if you are learning to track your handicap index and will be posting your scores you’ll need a minimum of holes but we’ll get to that later.
- When you make a tee time, if it’s just you or maybe one other player there is a chance that you’ll be paired up with a couple more golfers to complete a group of four. Let the pro shop know ahead of time that you are new and they’ll do their best to accommodate you and not put you with a group of other golfers that will make your round less fun.
- When someone is going to hit their ball stand still and be silent to avoid distracting them.
- Where to stand can get confusing but here’s a simple tip – never stand directly in line with the hole and the ball. You can easily be a distraction to the person playing their ball. Also, be sure to never stand in front of the player. Errant shots can occur and we don’t want you to be in danger of getting hit with a ball (trust me it hurts).
- Keep in mind the location of your shadow. Yes, your shadow can also be a distraction to a golfer.
- Sometimes when you hit your ball you’ll create what’s called a divot. A divot is a chunk of ground that flies up during impact. Help keep the golf course in good shape by always filling your divot in with the provided sand/seed mix attached to the golf cart or your push cart. If you are carrying your bag grab the divot and replace it into the hole at a minimum.
- On the green you may notice that your ball has created a dimple in the grass. By using your green repair tool (or a tee) you can fix the dimple and help maintain the flatness of the surface.
- Once everyone’s ball is on the green you can now remove the flag. Ask the group if everyone wants it out first because some people can’t see the hole from how far away they may be putting. In this case it’s called “tending the flag” and once the ball is putted you can then remove the flag. Place it off to the side so it is in no one’s way. When done, be sure to put the flag back in the hole.
- If you hit your ball and it’s clearly going towards a group of players on another fairway perhaps, it’s okay to yell FORE (pronounced just like the number four) as loud as you can. This is the only time it’s okay (short of making a hole in one or sinking a 50 foot putt and a victory yell is a necessity). This is the best and must trusted way of alerting others on the course to cover their head and body. Don’t be shy…. yell it loud!
- If there is a group of golfers in the group behind you waiting on you at every shot, it’s okay to flag them up and let them play through. You may do this from the fairway, green, or tee box.
- When on the green you may be asked to “mark” your golf ball. You achieve this by putting a ball marker directly behind your ball and then you can pick it up safely while keeping the spot of your ball. Ball markers come in all sizes and shapes and are usually provided free with tees at the beginning of the round. You may even be asked by another player to move your ball left or right. It’s easy to achieve this by using the head of your putter as a distance and guide and simply move the ball marker whichever direction helps the person putting.
- On the green, the ball furthest from the hole is up first to putt.
NICE TO KNOW
- You’re new… no one expects you to come out and shoot par, hit every fairway, stick every green, and sink every putt. If after your first round or handful of rounds you want to start working on your game to get better let the pro shop know and ask about lessons with the teaching pro. Simple mechanics can really help!
- It’s always a good idea to get to the course early so you have time to warm up, stretch, and practice. You can buy a small bucket of balls (some courses provide them free) to hit at the range as well as there is a practice putting green for learning the feel of the greens. Each course is slightly different so it’s always smart to get some light practice in before playing.
- There is water on the course but it’s always wise to buy a bottle of water for your bag. You can easily get thirsty! Many courses have a beverage cart but don’t expect to be able to find that cart exactly when you need it. You can call into the pro shop while playing and many times they will bring you something if need be.
- Bathrooms are usually only found once or twice while on the course. Be advised that it’s smart to go to the bathroom before your round and when you make the turn after your first 9 holes is complete.
- Many courses have a snack shop window between the 9th hole and 10th hole but be sure to buy a granola bar or other snack before hitting the course.
- Be sure to put your cell phone on mute/vibrate. Your playing partners won’t always appreciate hearing a ring or a text message notification in their back swing.
- Have fun! Golf can get stressful if you put too much pressure on yourself. Remember, you’re new to this and the more you play the better you will become. Don’t get angry if a young kid can hit the ball further than you or if an older person has more accuracy. This is the beauty of the game… it’s for everyone!
Golf is a lifetime game and you’re just at the beginning. Don’t be afraid, get out, play, and have a good time!