01 May A Guide to Golfing for the First Time
If you’re among the nearly 25 million people estimated to hit the golf course this year, you might be a little unsure what to expect. If this is your first time golfing, there are some important golf tips for beginners, as well as tricks and rules of etiquette you are expected to follow.
How Do I Learn to Play Golf for the First Time?
If you’re here because you are interested in learning golf basics, that’s an excellent first step. Taking the time to understand the game means you have the type of dedication required to become a skilled player. Some of the best golf tips for a beginner are to establish a routine, familiarize yourself with golf terminology and secure the appropriate gear:
Establish a Routine
The best way to learn any new skill is to dive right in and start practicing. The following tips can help you create and stick to a routine:
- Be consistent: One of the best golf lessons for beginner adults is to be consistent with your practice. Practice may not make you the perfect golfer, but it is crucial if you want to learn the basics of the game and grow into a better player over time. Set aside time each week to practice on the range or the course, and set milestones for yourself to track your progress. The more time you put into the game, the more comfortable you will feel on the green. One way to hold yourself accountable is to book tee times in advance.
- Learn with a friend: Consider learning golf alongside another beginner to help keep you accountable and have someone to practice with. You could also have an experienced golfer mentor you in the game and work with you one-on-one.
- Put in the time: If you want to become a better golfer, you need to be willing to put in the time. Golf is fun and challenging, but also requires great concentration and skill to master.
Learn the Terminology
If you have spent any time on a golf course or practicing at the range, you’ve likely heard quite a few terms used. There are dozens of golf-specific words you will learn as you gain experience, but these are a good place to start:
- Golf tee: The golf tee is a small peg, 2–3 inches long, that you push into the golf turf to prop up the ball. Tees are usually made of either wood or plastic.
- Tee box: The tee box is a generalized term that refers to the area where you begin playing each hole. It’s also known as the teeing area.
- Par: Par is the number of strokes it will likely take for a golfer to complete either a single hole or every hole on the course, depending on the context. Par is usually calculated at an expert level, so don’t worry if you don’t golf up to par right away.
- The green: The green is the manicured, lush part of a golf course that surrounds the hole.
- Ace: An ace is also known as a hole-in-one.
- Fore: If you hear someone yell, “Fore!” while you’re on the course, you might want to take cover — it means a ball was hit too hard or in the wrong direction and could hit someone. If you have a bad hit, make sure you yell out the warning in time for other players to shield their faces.
- Drive: Even if you don’t use a driver, the drive is the first hit you take from the tee box.
- Duff: Simply put, a duff is a hit that doesn’t go as planned. Duffs happen to the best of us — even professional golfers hit a duff or two.
- Mulligan: You won’t find the term mulligan used in a professional golf game. However, in a casual game or at the putting range, a mulligan refers to a do-over if you want to try your hit again.
- Fairway: The fairway is the part of the golf course that leads to the green.
- Pre-shot routine: A pre-shot routine is a ritual a golfer does just before they hit the ball. Every golfer’s pre-shot routine is different, and there is no “right way.”
- Divot: The divot is a piece of turf or cut-out hole on the course that shifts out of place when struck by the ball.
The exact type of equipment you require depends on several factors, including temperature, weather conditions, your budget, where you are playing and what you hope to get out of the game. There are a few things that every golfer should have, regardless of these factors:
- Clubs: Every golfer should have a set of comfortable, quality golf clubs. Later, we’ll talk more in-depth about which basic clubs for golf beginners are essential.
- Golf balls: As a beginner, you might want to avoid investing too much money in golf balls right away. You will likely lose several of them as you learn how to play. Instead, look for an affordable multi-pack of golf balls that you can easily replace if a few go missing along the way.
- Golf bag: When choosing a golf bag, know whether you need a cart bag or a carry bag. Cart bags are designed to load easily into a golf cart, while carry bags are comfortable enough to carry around the course on foot.
- Golf tees: You should always have several golf tees on hand. The size of the golf tees depends on the type and length of the golf club you are using, so be sure to consider that before purchasing.
- Sunscreen: No matter the time of year or visible cloud cover, sunscreen is essential if you are playing outdoors. If you’re worried about adding too much weight to your golf bag, look for a travel size bottle.
- Towels: Towels are not required, but make golfing during warm weather much more enjoyable. You can use a towel to dab sweat from your hands and promote a steadier grip, or you can use a damp towel to cool down in between holes.
You can find golf gear at most sport equipment stores. Some ranges and private clubs have golf gear for rent or sale on the premises. If you’re just starting out, you could also buy secondhand golf equipment or borrow gear from a friend until you get a better feel for your preferences.
What to Wear Golfing for the First Time
If you’re heading to practice at a public golf range, the dress code may be less strict than it is at a private club. Check with the range and ask if there are any guidelines for attire you need to know about. If you’re golfing at a club, however, the guidelines are pretty standard across the industry:
- Tops: Specific golf shirts are slightly longer than the average polo, but if this is your first trip to the green, anything similar will work. Just be sure your top is comfortable and has a collar, as well as short sleeves. Depending on the season and weather forecast, you may also want to bring along a long-sleeved windbreaker or fleece jacket to stay comfortable while you’re outside. Make sure your jacket isn’t too hot and that the sleeves are an appropriate length, otherwise it could impact your performance.
- Bottoms: Jeans and leggings are typically against golf course etiquette. Instead, opt for a pair of khakis or capri pants. If the weather is warm, go for a pair of mid-length shorts or a golf skirt.
- Shoes and socks: You can buy shoes explicitly created for golf. Golf shoes have soft spikes on the bottom that lend an extra level of stability while walking, aiming and driving. If you don’t have golf shoes, regular sneakers or athletic shoes will be okay as long as they are comfortable and don’t have a heel that could dig into the turf.
- Hat: Golf hats are essential for keeping the sun out of your eyes during crucial moments, like hitting and spotting the ball. Any baseball-style cap or sun visor will work, as long as it fits securely to your head and doesn’t impede your vision.
- Gloves: Not every golfer wants or needs a set of golf gloves, but you might consider investing in a pair with good gripping if you are prone to sweaty hands.
How to Play Golf for Beginners: The Basics
Once you have brushed up on the lingo and purchased all the necessary apparel, it’s time to start practicing. Here are some golf pointers for beginners:
- Setting up the round: After you show up for your scheduled tee time, you and your group — up to four players total — need to decide how many holes you want to play and whether you will be walking or using a golf cart. This is also when you will hire a caddy, if interested.
- Gripping the club: When gripping the club, use your palm and fingers. Try to grip the handle about an inch below the end of the club. Avoid tightly gripping or holding too much tension in your hands, or you won’t be able to turn with enough fluidity to make the shot.
- Hitting the ball: As you prepare to hit the ball, trace an invisible path back and forth with your club to build up force for your hit. Aim for a steady hit with the center of the club’s face, rather than the tip or the edge.
- Keeping score: Specific scoring instructions depend on if you are playing stroke or match. Either way, make sure you keep track of how many times you tried to hit the ball, not just the successful hits. If you’re a new golfer, keeping score isn’t necessary, but it’s a fun way to track your progress over time.
As you practice and eventually work your way up to golfing on a professional course, there are a few rules of golf etiquette you should be aware of:
- Show up to the course with plenty of time to warm up before you begin your game.
- Write your name or other identifying information on your golf balls in case they get lost — and never pick up another player’s golf ball or tee.
- Always replace your divots.
- Don’t step in or walk through the area between another player and the hole they are golfing.
- When someone is preparing to putt, do not make any noise or be otherwise distracting.
- Do not linger at one hole for too long.
What Golf Clubs Are Needed for a Beginner?
There are several different types of golf clubs, each one serving a unique purpose. It’s important that you research what each golf club does, as well as the best time to use that club. Eventually, you will want to own one or more of the following:
- Fairway woods
It’s okay to start out with just a few clubs. The primary golf clubs for beginners are fairway woods, irons and putters. As you gain more experience, you can experiment with more. If you’re working with a golf instructor, they can help you decide which clubs to get first based on your specific goals. Most golfers have about a standard 12 clubs in their golf bag:
- Three fairway woods
- Eight irons
- One putter
- Room for two additional clubs based on your hitting preferences
As you shop for clubs, it is crucial that you hold each one in your hand before making a purchase. Your club should feel comfortable and sit well in your palm.
How Many Golf Lessons Should a Beginner Take?
Some golf instructors recommend at least 15 different lessons that cover everything from golf basics to specific club hits and swing analysis. While this is ideal for many beginners, how many golf lessons you should take depends on several factors, including:
- How long each lesson is
- How quickly you master each new skill
- Whether you are working with a teacher
- How often you practice
- Your budget
- What your end goal is
As you consider the type and frequency of lessons that are best for you, one of the most important things to focus on is finding the right teacher. Some private clubs and private or public ranges staff golf instructors. You can also ask your golf friends for recommendations or research options local to your area. When considering a golf teacher, make sure you ask about their rate per lesson, their teaching philosophies and their golf credentials. You may be able to get a discount per class by purchasing a lesson package.
Choose a golf instructor who shares similar interests as you or has had a golf career that aligns with your current goals. Many golf teachers have trial lessons or clinics available, so you can be sure you’re a good match before committing.
Level up Your Game With Hallmark Golf
Many enthusiasts consider Hilton Head Island in South Carolina to be one of the top golfing destinations in the United States — and we couldn’t agree more. Hallmark Golf offers golf packages that include two professionally designed courses. At each course, you will enjoy beautiful, tranquil surroundings and have access to a professional golf shop.
- Crescent Pointe: Crescent Pointe is an 18-hole Arnold Palmer signature designed public access golf course with four par 3s and three par 5s. Here, you will enjoy a landscape scattered with ponds and mature oak, magnolia and pine trees.
- Eagle’s Pointe: Davis Love III created his signature golf course to be full of both risk and reward. In addition to lush, contoured landscaping, beginners can also book time with one of our staff golf instructors.
Whether you are interested in golf for beginners or are a seasoned pro, Hallmark Golf has golf packages available for all experience levels. Visit Hallmark Golf online to learn more about Hilton Head tee times, course conditions and membership opportunities.