Golf is a funny game. You have to hit a small ball with a metal club into a cup-sized hole in as few shots as possible. You also have to spend hours on the practice greens and driving ranges to hone your skills, and it’s often a long drive just to get to a course.
It’s one of the most annoying, frustrating, amazing games you’ll ever play. And, it’s one of the world’s most popular sports, and accessible to everyone.
If you’ve gone your whole life without playing golf, then you’re gonna feel the levels of anxiety seriously rise when you get that first invite for a weekend round. You’ll be surrounded by your experienced friends, and you won’t know what to do. And once you’ve said ‘yes,’ how in the hell are you going to get through it without some personal tuition from Tiger Woods? Have no fear, every golfer was once in your position. This article is a crash course on the game. Use it as a jumping-off point for future learning, not as a complete guide.
Firstly, save your money. Do not buy a bag of clubs if you’ve never played before. Simply rent one from the course’s clubhouse. Your wallet will thank you if you decide this game isn’t your cup of tea. Take time to research the course’s dress code. Some courses do not allow shorts, and some don’t allow non-collared shirts. As a general rule, never wear jeans to the golf course.
Next, take time to research the etiquette of the game. You’ll make the experience for you and those around you more enjoyable when you stick to the rules of the game outside of swinging a club. Proper golf etiquette includes, but is not limited to:
1. Gestures such as being silent while others are swinging,
2. Taking your shadow off of other player’s balls,
3. Fixing your divot and ball marks,
4. Maintaining the bunker,
5. Tending the flag.
Be prepared and accept that you’re going to get frustrated with yourself on your first game of golf. And if you can get round the whole course without losing more than 6 golf balls, then you’ve done damn well. Remember to follow these rules and keep a positive attitude, you will definitely be invited for future rounds.
Essentially, a game of golf consists of 9 or 18 holes. Each hole has distinct regions. There is a tee box where you’ll hit your tee shots from. There is a fairway with short grass: the optimal area to hit from. The rough is on each side of the fairway and has longer, rougher, grass. The green has the shortest grass, and it’s where you’ll putt your ball to the hole. Some others that won’t be on every hole are the sand and water hazards. Simply put, don’t hit the ball here you’ll lose them! Knowing these regions is crucial as it will help you plan how you want to play each hole.
Now, onto the game itself. Get to know the equipment you will be using. 90% of what you need to know is the specifics of your clubs. Any good rental bag should come with a set of irons, a wood or hybrid, a driver, and a putter. The first shot of the game, called the “tee shot,” requires the most power out of any swing in golf. Aside from a few short holes, you’ll be teeing off with your driver. It’s a longer club designed for power and distance. A well-executed driver swing will give your ball low height but also get you far down the fairway. Woods and hybrids are essentially drivers for shorter distances. These clubs are also commonly used in other areas besides the tee box as they make better contact with a ball that is not placed on a tee. The irons are the most used club type in the bag. These clubs vary in degrees. 4 and 5-irons are like the driver as they can also produce low-angle shots with good distance. As you work your way into 8 and 9-irons, your shots will have much more height and will not go as far. Your pitching and sand wedges are irons that designed for short, lofty shots that will get high up in the air and drop on the green without rolling too far. Your putter is for short swings that roll your ball into the hole once it’s on the green.
How in the world do you use these clubs? Unfortunately, attempting to write down all the tips and tricks to mastering your swing would take days to complete. People will tell you that after 10, 20, or 30 years of the game, they still have stuff they need to fix about their swing. This is okay. Golf is a lifelong learning experience. However, learning how to swing by reading is not enough. The best way to learn is to ask a friend for help, or at least get them to lend you their clubs. If you can’t find a friend willing to teach you, you may need to pay for lessons with a clubhouse pro. These are patient and knowledgeable people that get paid to teach golf. Another of your best resources in learning your swing is YouTube. Here, you’ll find thousands of different videos and channels dedicated to teaching swing lessons to players of all skill levels.
Possibly the hardest lesson to master in golf is the mental and emotional strength. To reiterate, you will feel frustrated, embarrassed, and exposed out there on the course. After a year, you’ll still feel that way. After ten years, you’ll still feel that way. It’s important to remind yourself that it’s only a game. The beauty of golf is that you are really only competing against yourself. You’re trying to be a better golfer today than you were in the last game. Every hole is different, and one swing of the club can change your mood for better or worse. Always maintain a positive, stress-free attitude. It will make your day better, and it may even rub off on those around you.
Finally, keep it fun. This game can be intimidating but also extremely rewarding. Go out there for your first game ready to learn, improve, and enjoy yourself!
Here are 5 of the weirdest sports in the world to intimidate you a bit more 🙂