It will also be the most frustrating. There will be times when you ask yourself why you started this stupid game in the first place. We have all been there.
But then, you will hit a fantastic shot, and as you’re watching it fly through the air, you’ll be overcome with joy, and all the bad shots you hit will fade away.
Golf has a weird way of making you hate it and love it all within the span of a few minutes.
To protect your nerves and suppress gray hairs for as long as possible, we put together these golf tips for beginners.
Welcome to the new love of your life.
Every you play golf will have rental clubs available, so don’t stress if you haven’t gone golf club shopping yet (more on clubs below). Here are some tips for when you’re ready to get your first set.
You can find beginner sets that are sold as complete packages and even include the bag in most cases. These are very affordable and exactly what you need right now.
These are made for golfers just like you. They include all the clubs you need to get started for a fair price. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door.
After you’ve been playing for a while, you can always modify your set with other clubs that you think will improve your game based on your results.
All the clubs you see on display at golf stores are sold separately. Yes, irons come in sets, but you can also buy them individually if you lose one. Your first purchase outside your beginner set should be either a putter or a wedge.
Resist the urge to get the latest and greatest driver. This is a common mistake most beginning golfers make. Your swing is not groomed enough to necessitate a big expensive driver just yet.
Here’s what most beginner sets include;
- 3-wood and/or 5-wood
- 4 hybrid
- 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Pitching Wedge
- Sand Wedge (maybe)
Parts Of A Golf Club
All golf clubs will have a head, shaft, and grip. Beyond that, they are designed to do vastly different things.
This is the rubber at the top of the club. This is the only place where you can hold the club while you’re swinging. Grips come in all shapes, sizes, and even colors nowadays.
After you have a few rounds under your belt, you can also switch to a fatter or thinner golf grip as well. This can be done on your beginner clubs since new grips can be installed without having to buy all new clubs.
The part that connects the head to the grip is called the shaft. This will be made from graphite on all your clubs except the putter and sand wedge for most of us.
The most essential shaft will be in your driver. This is the longest one and therefore has the smallest margin for error. After you get a good putter and sand wedge, getting a properly fitted driver shaft is next on your priority list.
This is where all the action is. The club head is the part that makes contact with the ball. The two types of heads are;
Your driver is technically a wood, but everyone refers to it as a driver and not a 1-wood.
The golf industry is ripe with accessories. Some are useful; many are not. This is a fun part of the culture, though, as just when you think you’ve seen it all, another product comes along. Here are some useful accessories that you can start using and benefit from today.
Ball Mark Repair Tool
This looks like a two-tang fork. You keep it in your pocket so you can repair the indentation your golf ball makes when it hits the green. As a beginner, this may not happen too often. As you improve, though, you will need it on almost every hole.
It’s also great for removing tees that are deep in the ground after a shot.
This is worth its weight in gold. Get a good and large towel for many reasons. The most common use is to clean your clubs. If you wipe them off immediately after each shot, they will stay clean longer. Letting dirt and mud get caked onto your club face will make it hard to remove later.
Using a dirty club face will also have a negative impact on your shots. The dirt and grim will absorb some of the force, and you won’t hit your shots as far. As you will find out, golf is hard, so getting every slight advantage you can is paramount.
When you’re on the green with your playing partners and your ball is between their ball and the hole, you are allowed to mark it. To do so, you can use a marker. Sometimes these may be magnetically attached to your repair tool, but if not, you can use a coin of any kind.
Fun fact about ball markers; the rules of golf say you can use anything you want to mark your ball. It does not have to be a sanctioned marker. You could find a rock on the driving range and use that if you want, just as long as you replace your ball exactly where you marked it after.
When you’re first starting out, you may not be used to holding the club, and this may cause blisters or calluses. To prevent that and keep you practicing more, get yourself a glove.
If you’re right-handed, get a glove for your left hand. This is the hand that will bear the most workload. Your glove should be tight; it will stretch. You don’t want any excess material that can bunch up and cause problems.
Common Shots You’ll Face
Armed with the correct equipment, you’re now ready to get out there and start using it. Here are the shots you will face not only as a beginner but as a golfer.
This refers to the first shot on any hole. It is the one shot you may use a tee to prop your ball up. You do not have to use a driver; this is where the game’s strategy comes into play. Sometimes your driver will provide too much distance for the shot at hand. Make sure you assess the hole first before selecting your club.
Tees may also be used on par 3 holes as well.
Hitting golf balls off the grass is what you’ll be doing 99% of the time. This is where the bulk of your practice hours should be spent. When you’re on the course, you could be hitting from different length grass on uneven ground, so getting comfortable with your irons is a must.
Once your ball has been hit off the tee, you cannot touch it again until you get it on the green.
Related: Our picks for the best irons for beginners
The closer you get to the green, the more delicate the shots become. A pitch shot is hit with a shorter golf swing and less power. Depending on your preference, you can use your pitching wedge or sand wedge.
A pitch shot is hit with the intent of being hit high with minimal roll after it lands. Use this shot to go over hazards such as water or bunkers.
Often confused with pitching, a chip shot is much shorter. Pitches are generally hit from outside 40 yards, while chips are from within 40 yards. Chipping requires a slightly different technique to gauge your distance better.
A chip will spend less time in the air than a pitch and is meant to roll out towards the hole.
Hitting out of the sand is arguably the toughest shot to learn. However, this feeling won’t last long. Ask any experienced player, and they will tell you that they prefer hitting shots out of the bunker rather than deal with long, thick rough.
The key to these shots is hitting the sand before the ball. Don’t be afraid to take a big golf swing since the sand will slow your club head down. Practice is crucial to get comfortable with this shot.
Now for the most critical part of golf; developing your golf swing. Contrary to what YouTube videos will tell you, there is no such thing as a perfect swing, only the perfect swing FOR YOU. This is an individual sport; you’ll have a successful swing as long as you get the ball to go where you want.
Here are a few golf tips for beginners to work on while you search for your “forever swing.”
Addressing The Ball
On paper, playing golf should be easier than baseball or tennis because when you go to hit the ball it doesn’t move. However, this aspect presents its own set of challenges.
To get yourself ready to hit the golf ball, start by bending your knees slightly and bending at the hips so your arms can hang straight down. Give yourself plenty of space between your arms and your body for practice swings.
If using your wedge or 9-iron, have the ball in the middle of your stance. This puts you in an athletic position so you can produce controlled power.
Your first motion will be to draw the club back. If you watch golf on tv, you will see the pros making huge turns with their torso and hips. Don’t do this at first.
They have spent their whole lives grooming that motion, so you won’t be able to do that right away. You can draw inspiration from it, though.
Ensure you’re moving your club with your torso and not just your hands. The center of your chest should rotate away from the target. The more you can use your body, the better. Most golfers use their hands too much.
Once you have taken the club back as far as possible, that is your version of the “top of the swing.”
This is the most important part of your swing, as it will determine where your shot will go. Channel your focus on controlling your tempo. Since this part of the swing happens so fast, you won’t have time to address minor issues.
Focusing on tempo and rhythm allows your body to act instinctually. Your body knows what to do even if you are a beginner. Tap into this on the course and work on your mechanics when you’re at the driving range.
The Follow Through
This is the second most important part of the golf swing. Although it happens after the ball is struck, a poor follow-through can trickle down through the rest of your swing, affecting other parts.
The main point to hit here is to make sure all your weight is transferred to your front foot by the end. There should be no weight on your back foot, and it should be up on its toe. This is because your entire lower body has rotated to face the target.
If you don’t finish all the way through on your front foot, then you have not hit the shot with maximum power.
Probably the most famous part about playing golf is driving the golf carts. The second most famous thing about golf is the detailed etiquette that comes with it. This is a game steeped in tradition, and many of the rules and regulations stem from hundreds of years ago.
Here are some golf tips for beginners to start learning about all the etiquette involved.
You probably already know the dress code for golf based on many jokes you have heard over the years. This is one of the few areas of the game that have become more accepting of a less-than-perfect dress code.
The mainstay outfit that will allow you to play even the nicest golf courses starts with the shirt. It must have a collar. It can be short-sleeved or long, depending on what weather you’re playing in.
There was a time when only pants were permitted, but nowadays, 99.9% of golf courses have done away with this rule. Your shorts should be business casual—no athletic wear such as basketball or biking shorts.
If you have golf shoes, this is the place to wear them. If not, many golfers wear running shoes with as much grip as possible.
Although not part of your dress code, it’s always a good idea to keep an umbrella in your bag as well. Rainstorms can appear out of nowhere, and you might be a long way from the clubhouse when they do.
Yes, you can talk on the golf course. It’s a great place to have meaningful discussions as many salespeople use the golf course to close deals. However, there are times to talk and times not to.
When someone is addressing the ball, that is your cue to go silent. This means holding in a sneeze, not using the zipper on your bag, and standing still. You will be afforded the same courtesy when it’s your turn.
Pace Of Play
This is a huge sticking point for many golfers. Everyone is out there to have fun, and no one wants to be held up. Having said that, you don’t have to rush to play or enjoy golf.
You have one responsibility on the golf course; keep up with the group ahead of you. If you’re on the same hole as them, then you’re “in position.”
Think of it like traffic; if you’re driving a safe distance behind the car in front of you, then that’s as fast as you can go. Unfortunately, some drivers will still come right up behind you and honk to try and get you to go faster. The same is true on a golf course.
If there is no one in front of you, then by all means, just let these people play through and get back to enjoying your day.
On The Green
This part of the golf course is where the most rules exist. While I can’t cover all of them, here are the basics;
Marking Your Ball
If your ball is on the green, you can mark it. This is to clean the ball or get it out of another player’s line of putt. To do so, place your marker behind the ball without touching the ball. Now your ball can be handled.
When you’re ready to play, place your ball back in the same spot that you lifted it from. As long as you don’t touch your marker, you can aim your ball any way you like or even pick it up again. Some golf balls have alignment markings printed on them already. When you’re ready to take your shot, remove the marker.
Intended Line Of Putt
This is a tricky one but very necessary. If you’re faced with a 10-foot putt, then the grass between your ball and the hole is what’s called your intended line of putt. This imaginary space is off-limits to walking on.
Footprints and markings from the spikes on golf shoes can adversely affect a player’s putt, so it’s common courtesy not to step on someone’s line. After they have putted, you may step on their old intended line of putt.
Where To Stand
While your playing partners are putting, it’s proper etiquette not to get in their way at all. This means watching where your shadow lands as well. If you’re casting a shadow that sits on another player’s ball or across their intended line of putt, then that can be a distraction.
Stay near your ball, so you’re ready to play when it’s your turn. If you have to move briefly while someone else is playing, then do so.
Lastly, don’t step on the hole when removing your ball from the cup. Keep your feet as far from it as possible, so you don’t affect the putts of others who are playing behind you.
Where To Play
Your first few rounds can be on an “executive” golf course. These are courses designed with only short holes, mostly par 3’s and very short par 4’s. This is a great place to practice your game and etiquette.
It’s also a great place to meet other beginners as well. Most courses will have men’s and ladies’ days once a week that are free to sign up for; you only pay for green fees, which you would pay for anyway.
Having people at the same stage as you will make learning the game much more fun.
Related: Learn more about Golf Etiquette
Bump and Run
Use this shot when you are within 5 yards of the green. The purpose is the have your ball rolling on the green as soon as possible with minimal air time. Treat this shot more like a putt.
These shots are the mirror image of each other. A draw is a shot that starts up the right side of your target and gently curves in the air to the left. A fade is the opposite. For the left-handed golfers out there, this is reversed. A draw will start up the left side and gently curve back to the right. A draw is a controlled hook, and a fade is a controlled slice.
Hopefully, this is the only time you will ever have to use this word, but the odds are stacked against you. A shank is a terrible golf shot. If you were standing in the middle of a clock and aiming your target is 12 o’clock, then a shank would end up around 3 o’clock.
The Big Dog
This is a nickname used when talking about the driver. “Letting the big dog eat” means you’re going to hit the ball far.
Everyone’s favorite word in all of golf. This is not an official rule, but most recreational players will recognize one mulligan per round to be used whenever you like. It means if you shank a shot, you can replay it again without penalty.
This is the start of any hole. Each hole has many tee boxes to accommodate different levels of players. If you start your round on the white tee boxes, you must play from the white tee boxes on every hole for the rest of the round.
Related: Golf Terms Explained - Talk Like A Golfer
Learning golf is a dubious task. The best way to approach it is to enjoy the journey. Focus on the small victories and specifically golf tips for beginners. If you are brand new, just work on making contact with the ball; worry about height later.
Progress will be slow, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at the practice range while hitting balls. Sign up for some clinics or hire a professional to help you develop good habits. They can teach you how to practice to still work on your own time and reduce your bad shots.
Playing the game more also makes watching it on tv more fun. You will have a new appreciation for how good the best golfers in the world are.