18 Simple Golf Tips For Beginners

Introduction

Taking up golf can be quite a daunting prospect for some. It is still seen by many as a stuffy game played by rich old men although nothing could be further from the truth.

In addition to the complexities of actually hitting a golf ball, you might worry about the rules and etiquette of the game or what equipment you are going to need. Here are 18 simple golf tips for beginners to help you maximize your enjoyment of this great game.

Don’t forget that everybody had to start somewhere and even today’s tour players were probably hacking it round at the start of their golfing journey!

The Golf Swing

Even for people who are fairly good at sports, golf can be a difficult game. I think one of the biggest problems for most people is that the ball is stationary. This means you can’t use your instinctive reactions to connect with the ball. You have to learn a series of awkward movements to make a decent connection.

Should You Take Lessons?

I think this probably comes down to how seriously you think you want to take the game. At the outset, you probably just want to get a feel for swinging the club around you and trying to make contact with the ball. This could be at a driving range, a par-3 course or even just a field nearby.

Try not to get bogged down in the mechanics of the swing too soon. Personally, I’ve only had a couple of lessons and they were quite a few years after I started playing. I have played off single figures for over 20 years and everything I learned about the golf swing I picked up in my local library. Yes, I am that old!

Whether you decide to take lessons or just rely on YouTube videos and blog posts you will eventually need to work on the mechanics of your golf game in order to improve.

A great way to start if you are unsure is to find a local professional who runs group sessions for beginners. This can even add the added benefit of giving you some ready-made practice and playing partners who are all at a similar stage of development.

If you’re a little too intimidated to take in-person lessons then you might want to check out one of the many pros who offer an online package of lessons.

Work On The Fundamentals

One area that beginners can work on that can pay dividends, in the long run, is getting the fundamentals of golf correct. Work on your grip, aim, stance and posture. If you can get these elements right consistently then you’ll be well on the way to producing better golf shots. The added bonus is that you don’t even need to visit the driving range to work on those aspects of your game! Even tour pros that have been playing the game for donkey’s years still work on these basics so that they have a solid foundation on which to build their swing.

Will You Have To Practice?

While practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect if you’re going to stand a good chance of improving your game then you will need to work on it. That doesn’t necessarily mean hitting thousands of balls a week, however. It’s more about the quality of the practice than the quantity. This is one area where having lessons is usually a benefit as a professional can give you the right things to work on.

In fact, I would go so far as to say there’s probably not much point in investing lots of money in lessons unless you have the time and are prepared to practice.

Where Can I Practice Golf?

Most people will tend to do the bulk of their practice at a driving range. Depending on where you live this might vary from a range that offers radar tracking of your shots to a pristine fairway filled with targets all the way down to an open field with some balls manufactured 25 years ago!

Don’t forget that you can also work on your game at home. You can invest in a putting mat that will allow you to work on that side of your game all year. If you have room in your yard you could set up a practice net to save having to drive to the nearest range. It all depends on your budget and available time and space.

How Should I Practice Golf?

What you practice is infinitely more important than how much you practice. Hitting the ball a decent distance off the tee but still keeping it in play is important. Being able to get your approaches on or near the green consistently is also a great skill to have. Add in decent chipping and putting (avoiding 3-putts) and you will see your scores tumble.

Try to work on areas of your game that you struggle with rather than just aimlessly hitting balls with your favorite club. You should always practice with a purpose and have a clear target that you are aiming at.

Don’t forget that there is more to golf than hitting balls. The mental side of golf is just as important, some would argue more so.

Ignore Friendly Advice

Many of your golfing partners will be quick to offer you friendly advice. Classics such as “Keep your head down” will be trotted out when you hit a bad shot. Let it go in one ear and out the other. If you’re looking for advice on your swing then the best place to go would be a professional. Do you really think your buddies who can’t break 100 have any nuggets of advice that are going to be really useful? Unlikely!

Learn How To Self Diagnose Your Swing

As you start to progress a little bit with your game have a look at the ball flight laws and this should give you a good idea of how you’re swinging based on how the ball is flying. This feedback tells you all you need to know about the swing you made.

Clubs
You don’t need all of these when you are starting!

Equipment

A driver, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, a putter, a bag, balls, gloves, tees and the list goes on and on. To people thinking about taking up golf, there seems to be an endless list of equipment to buy. 

What Golf Equipment Do You Really Need?

As a beginner, I don’t think you need to go overboard on equipment. While having the latest $500 driver or $1500 set of irons might be a boost to your ego it’s not necessarily going to make you play golf any better.

You can pick up basic sets of clubs in places like Walmart for probably $200 or so. If you’re really looking for a bargain then you might try eBay, or sites such as Freecycle or Craigslist. Take care when purchasing used equipment as you don’t want to buy a set of stiff shafted blades and a persimmon driver as it’s very unlikely you will be able to hit them. Whether you buy new or used look for cavity back irons and at least to start with your probably going to need regular shafts.

In reality, while you’re learning the game, six or seven clubs should be sufficient. Obviously, you’ll need a putter except if you are Kim Jong Il! (He claimed he managed 11 hole-in-ones in one round). A sand wedge to escape from bunkers and for lofted chips round the green. Three or four irons or hybrids to cover shots from the fairway and something to hit on the tee of longer holes. You might go for a driver but I would stick to a 3-wood or 5-wood to start with.

You will probably find yourself losing plenty of balls at the outset so unless you are particularly rich I would look to spend at most $20 on a dozen balls. You might find yourself better off buying used balls as they will tend to work out even cheaper. Once your game improves to the point where you’re not losing too many balls then you can start thinking about upgrading to a better quality ball that will give you better performance.

Assuming you didn’t buy a starter set that included a bag then you’ll need something to carry all your equipment in. You’ll struggle to find brand-new bags for much less than a hundred dollars these days although you can always scour the Internet for deals. You may find a golfing friend or relative who has a spare bag they could let you have.

Down the line, once you determined how committed you are to the game you can always look into investing more money in better quality clubs, particularly ones that are custom fit to your golf game.

The only other things that you really need to have are a towel, a divot repair tool and some tees. While some people prefer not to use a glove the vast majority of golfers do use one. That one is very much a personal preference.

The towel is used mainly to keep your clubs clean. It’s useful to dampen one corner of the towel at the start of the round to help wipe down your clubs. Early on I got into the habit of cleaning my club after each shot before putting them back into the bag so they would be ready for me on my next shot.

A divot tool or pitch mark repairer Is used to repair the damage that your ball does to the green when it lands on it from height.

As a beginner, you might be better off using the plastic castle tees since that will allow you to get the height consistently for each club.

Once you are ready to transfer your game onto the golf course you may find you need a few other items. Depending on the type of courses you’re intending to play you may need to buy some golf shoes. You may also need to buy some golfing slacks and a polo shirt. You would need to check with the facility what they require as a minimum standard. Most municipal or pay and play courses will have much more relaxed dress codes than private golf clubs.

Golf courses in Devon
18 holes might be tricky when you are a beginner

When Can I Play 18 Holes?

While technically there’s nothing wrong with trying to play a golf course no matter what your standard, in reality, you will just be frustrating yourself and everyone else on the course if you haven’t reached a certain standard first.

The acid test is probably being able to achieve some consistency with getting the ball airborne. If you’re still tending to hit the ball along the ground then you’re not really ready yet. 

One tip that my younger brother had during the lessons he received was to tee the ball up when he ventured out onto the course. He was also told to move the ball to a better lie if he hit it in the rough. If you’re just starting out in the game why make it harder than it needs to be!

If you have a par-3 course nearby then that might be an ideal steppingstone. The shorter holes mean you can use your most lofted clubs which will make it easier for you to get the ball airborne. There’s also much less chance of you losing balls due to the shorter format.

As a new golfer, you might even think about playing 9-holes to start with either at a 9-hole course or if an 18-hole course offers a rate to play just 9.

Booking A Tee Time

Post Covid-19 it many more courses now offer the option of booking tee times online although you still may need to phone up to secure your spot at some facilities. You may want to look for a quieter part of the day to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. At most clubs, the afternoon is generally quieter than the morning. If you’re fortunate enough to be a member of a private club then have a chat with the pro who may be able to fix you up with a fellow member who is also looking for a game.

Playing Golf

Don’t worry about your score or sticking rigidly to the rules of golf while you are still learning the ropes. Working on your score and how to deal with penalties et cetera can come later. For the moment just start learning how to get comfortable on the course and how to keep the ball moving forward.

While I wouldn’t worry too much about the rules of golf I think even a beginner should have a good understanding of the basic rules of etiquette. In particular the ones regarding looking after the course and pace of play.

Always make sure to replace your divots and rake any bunkers. Use your divot tool to fix any ball marks on the greens and also be mindful of your pace of play. If you have faster players behind you then stand aside and let them play through so you can concentrate on your own game rather than worrying about annoying other golfers. Slow play is one of the most talked-about subjects in golf.

If you respect the course and respect other players then people most likely won’t care how good or bad you are at golf. 

Another thing that beginners sometimes forget is shouting “fore” when their ball is in danger of hitting someone else on the course. It’s even more important these days due to the increasingly litigious nature of society. In fact, you may be wise to invest in some specific golf insurance.

Course Management

As you start to improve your ability you will need to start thinking about strategy a little more. This means playing to your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses. If you have a tendency to slice your driver then you might want to consider a more conservative approach on a hole with a water hazard down the right-hand side for example. If your bunker play is not a strength and the pin is tucked behind one then go for the fat part of the green and make sure to avoid the trap. 

Develop A Selective Memory

Learn to forget your bad shots. You can’t do anything about it once you’ve hit it so don’t let it affect you on your next shot. Just make sure you do everything you can to hit a good shot in the first place!

Enjoy The Game

The most important thing is that you enjoy the game. There’s no point spending up to 4 hours being miserable especially with how much a round of golf can cost. If you’re not enjoying the game then try to work out why and try and fix it.

Golf Tips For Beginners: Conclusion

So there you have it, 18 tips to help you start out on your golfing career. Golf is a very difficult game to master so don’t worry if you’re not making birdies and eagles by the end of your first week! Just go out there and enjoy yourself first and foremost.

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