The moment is here to start playing golf more than ever. Here are some crucial pointers to get you started:
If you’ve read this far, it’s likely because you realised on your own that there has never been a better moment to learn golf. Golf is a game played across a large outdoor area, a valuable form of exercise, and a mental diversion, making it especially adapted for a society where people are becoming socially isolated. But in order to genuinely enjoy golf, you must overcome all the daunting factors that may have kept you away up until this point. It’s a challenging game to begin with, and it comes with a variety of gear and traditions that could be overwhelming for a newcomer.
We advise not to worry about it.
Everyone who plays golf has at some point or another played poorly—many of us still do!—and you’d be astonished at how much you can learn on the course. Our goal is to teach you the fundamentals of golf, including how to hit the ball, what to use to hit the ball, and any other information you would need to get started (although you don’t need golf shoes right now). There are many themes to cover when it comes to the finest game there is, which is why Golf Digest has been around for 70 years. But it’s best to start out easy with some fundamentals. We are available when you are ready for more.
DIRECTION: THE ESSENTIALS OF PLAYING
Do I initially require lessons? What additional means of education are there?
Johnny Miller, a Hall of Fame golfer who later became a commentator, famously said that he taught his kids how to play golf by letting them hit balls into ponds because it was entertaining to watch the splash. Notably, there was no discussion of technical matters, such as how to handle a club or swing one.
Does that imply that you will never require instruction to improve? No, a good coach will undoubtedly aid in your development. Eventually. Will Robins, the Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, meanwhile, is firmly in the Miller camp and believes that players should embrace the game’s dynamics first before fine-tuning. That entails practising swing mechanics before delving into complex swing theory by using a practise range, Par-3 course, or even an open field with a bag of plastic whiffle balls.
You tense up—and most likely have difficulties even making contact—when you go from the stage where you’re just trying to smash it to where you actually start thinking about mechanics, according to Robins.
Instead, focus on the sensation of swinging the club quickly rather than hitting the ball “at.” You only need to focus on getting to a balanced finish and holding it there for three seconds.
To get you off the sofa and onto the course with fewer swing thoughts and more reliable shots, you can attempt Robins’ video series.
What fundamentals must I master in order to just strike the ball solidly?
Picking the right golf tip for you can be difficult because there are so many available—trust us, we’ve seen them all!
a reliable starting point? A good swing motion can be thought of as a combination of what many excellent players perform. Without really obsessing over mimicking the swing of any specific player, the closer you can get to some of those criteria, the more consistently you’ll hit the ball. Director of instruction for GolfTEC Nick Clearwater, who was named one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers, has swing data on more than 50,000 golfers of all handicaps.
Two outstanding instances preventing you from making a good shot that doesn’t bend sharply to the right? How you turn your hips through and how you turn your shoulders back.
According to Clearwater, a lot of novice players had a tendency to turn their shoulders back level, as if they were turning to look behind them to speak with someone. However, in addition to rotating their shoulders, tour players also incline them so that the shoulder closest to the target is lower.
A rapid tip of the hips can also greatly increase the likelihood of making a firm contact. In order to regulate the swing with their hands and arms, beginners frequently halt hip rotation—the degree that the hips are turning toward the target—on the downswing, according to Clearwater. “Tour players have their hips roughly twice as much oriented toward the target at impact.”
You can find six other crucial benchmarks here or in Clearwater’s basics series for Golf Digest Schools if you need more assistance.
There are a huge variety of clubs. I need to know when to utilise them and how to accomplish it.
In the broadest sense, your clubs will help guide you as to when to use them. Each club is made to do a specific job, which is to direct the ball down a specific path and distance. The driver, fairway woods, and hybrids are the longest clubs in your bag, and because of their longer shafts and lower face loft, the ball travels farther and runs out more. When using irons, the shafts go shorter and the loft on the face gets higher, so as you move from a 5-iron to a sand wedge, the ball will travel farther and fall down more abruptly.
According to Cameron McCormick, one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers, the first step in using each of those clubs effectively is to position yourself to maximise your chances of success. For instance, he explains, while using a short club like a wedge, you should aim to make as much clean contact as possible and strike the ball at the bottom of your swing arc. “That means the ball should be slightly below centre, or behind your sternum.”
In contrast, your driver should be hit with the ball positioned close to your front foot, a distance of at least six inches. The Golf Digest Schools series by McCormick serves as a set of owner’s manuals for the various clubs in your bag and is a terrific way to learn more.
EQUIPMENT: All the information you need to know about what to play.
What do I really need, and how much will it cost?
Worrying about whether you’re using the appropriate clubs is one of the frightening aspects of learning to play golf. The trick to using equipment in this game is to start out cautiously but strategically. First off, there’s no need to start out with 14 clubs in your bag, even if the majority of players eventually reach there. In essence, you require less, not more.
A club to hit off the tee on par 4 and par 5 holes, two or three clubs to move the ball down the fairway at roughly 100, 150, and 200 yards each (our recommendation would be a hybrid, pitching wedge, and 7-iron), a sand wedge to use around the green and out of greenside bunkers, and a putter are all necessary. Maximum is six clubs here.
Since limited sets are uncommon, your best bet for buying is usually to buy a full set and then reduce it to the bare minimum of clubs you need to travel across the golf course. You might get lucky with a secondhand set or on eBay. For less than $200, numerous places provide box sets that include all of the clubs. Websites like GlobalGolf.com offer high-quality secondhand clubs at a reasonable price.
You’ll need golf balls, but our recommendation at this stage in your game is to spend as little money as possible on as many balls as you can. You can begin to be a little more picky once you stop losing two sleeves per round. Other necessities that we believe are crucial include:
golf sling. It’s challenging to find one under $100 that’s of decent quality. Whether you’re unsure about golf, you might want to see if a buddy who plays frequently has an extra club in their garage. For the time being, that will do, and you’ll also save some money.
Tees. These used to be distributed freely in huge mounds, but with the present touchless culture, they might be less common now. You won’t need to buy t-shirts again for years if you get a bundle of 100.
Once your iron shots begin to hit greens more frequently, a divot tool to repair markings on the green will come in helpful, and you’ll earn the respect of your playing mates.
Towel. Not one from the linen closet, please. Take one from your friend who plays golf, who probably has 20 lying around his garage. It helps keep your clubs clean and is useful when the backwash of that big 9-iron splashes in your face. Believe us. Even the top players in the game experience it.
That’s it, to begin with. If you’re inventive, you might be able to make the entire entry to the game for less than $500, if not even half that. Seems like a good deal for the ultimate game.
Now that I’ve tried it, I’m addicted. What action should I take with my tools next?
Determining how much of a commitment you’ve made is important here. We’re speaking in terms of money when we talk about commitment. Although we strongly recommend the PGA Value Guide’s used-club market as a place to start, we are aware that new clubs have an even greater level of attraction. (We particularly like the idea because we place a great emphasis on clubs that are specially tailored to your game.)
Focus on finding a new driver if you’re not prepared to commit the full couple of thousand dollars. That might entail a quick clubfitting session with a pro at your neighbourhood golf shop. It could refer to a virtual fitting like those provided by some equipment manufacturers (Ping and Callaway).
The simplicity of a driver fitting is one of its beauties, but more often than not, you’ll find that you need a driver that will combat your slice. With movable weights or hosels that can set the face in a closed position or an upright angle to aid shots fade less, some can be modified to accomplish that effect. Again, let’s stress that a driver with draw bias won’t harm the average beginner golfer’s game. Other models are expressly designed for slice-correction. not to begin with and not for quite some time after. You’ll definitely want a little bit more loft (try 10.5), but with to today’s drivers’ several levels of adjustability, you can frequently increase the loft by as much as two degrees (plus or minus) to fine-tune your performance as your game improves.
Golf Digest’s 2020 Hot List of the Year’s Best Equipment
Why centre your new set on the driver? Simple. You’ve come a long way toward starting the hole with assurance, purpose, and most importantly distance if you have a driver you can rely on. There is nothing worse in golf than getting out of the hole before you have even begun it, thus this offers you a chance to enjoy the majority of the day.
LESSONS: PLAYING OUTSIDE
How can I tell if I’m fit to play golf?
Are you able to consistently launch a 7-iron from the tee? That is the greatest way to determine whether a novice is prepared for their first time on a course, according to Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Jason Birnbaum. Additionally, Birnbaum advises keeping a number of tees on hand even for the fairway. That’s a fantastic way to guarantee beginners appreciate their initial golf outings. You must maintain the fun, Birnbaum advises. Beginners may find it intimidating to hit from a tight lie in the fairway, so encourage them to tee up their iron shots to boost their confidence. A 7-iron will provide the athlete with the good trajectory and ample distance needed to maintain a solid rate of progress.
If at all feasible, play your first few rounds of golf with a friend who has played before. They can be of great assistance with the more minor etiquette issues (more on that below). The most important factor, according to Birnbaum, is making an effort to remain positive because struggles are a part of the game (for all levels!).
Don’t stress about your first 10-15 rounds of shooting, advises Birnbaum. “Keep track of the ratio of good to bad hits. You know you’re making progress when your good hits start to outnumber your bad ones.
Where can I find a tee time?
You’ll need to reserve a tee time at a public course if you don’t have access to a private course. Call your local course and let them know you’re new and would prefer to play when it’s less busy so you won’t feel under as much pressure. Late afternoons are frequently excellent choices. There are several tee-time aggregators (Supreme Golf, GolfNow, or TeeOff.com), which are useful for simultaneously looking for tee times at various courses. It’s more dependable to call them personally because certain courses are not listed on those websites and they won’t be able to accommodate a beginner’s particular demands.
In what location may I develop my game?
Practice fields are excellent. After becoming proficient at hitting off a mat, we advise locating a facility that allows you to hit off grass (hitting off grass is the most realistic practice, and mats will mess with your clubs). Setting up a net is a terrific alternative if you just have a small space at home. A decent place to practise is anywhere with enough space to allow you to take a complete swing. If you don’t have a mat and are practising in your backyard or a nearby field, plastic balls are a terrific alternative. You can take a whole swing without dropping a ball if you use those because they won’t damage anyone. Look into nearby retail establishments as well: Some companies charge per hour for practise time. That’s a fantastic substitute for winter training.
What happens if I decide not to play all 18 holes? Exist any substitutes?
Yes, you should always inquire about playing six, nine, or 12 holes while visiting a course. Some golf courses let you pay for each hole. Nine-hole rates are becoming more common on courses.
THE BIGGEST DO’S AND DON’Ts OF ETHIQUETTE
I’ve always heard that there are many regulations in golf. What do I need to know to avoid looking foolish?
Although there are many rules in golf, you should find comfort in the fact that even many seasoned players are not familiar with all of them. Being respectful of your fellow players and the golf course itself is really the most crucial thing to remember when playing your first round.
For example, it’s important to remember that the majority of other players don’t really care how excellent a golfer you are as long as you don’t significantly affect their experience. That entails continuing the round without stopping if you’re having trouble (better to give yourself a reasonable number of strokes for each hole and picking up for that hole after that). It entails being cautious not to obstruct their swing by approaching too closely or talking loudly when they are over the ball. For others, it also means finishing the course in respectable condition. Replace any divots you make with your swings, attempt to even out ball marks on the green if you dent them with a shot, and if you recently hit out of a bunker, smooth off the sand there with a rake or your foot.
Walking between the line of another player’s ball and the hole when you are on the green is one we’ll offer you now; some people make a big issue about that. However, if you go in with a positive attitude and are willing to admit what you don’t know, most golfers will be pleased to assist you learn.
JUNIORS: THE ESSENTIALS FOR TOTAGE
What is the most effective strategy to start my kids?
There are a few ways to respond to this, starting with the simplest: Just bring them along the next time you go out to play. There have been anecdotal reports from all around the nation that since golf courses have reopened, there are twice as many boys and girls playing golf than there were prior to the coronavirus. It partly reflects the fact that many facilities have loosened limitations on the hours of junior play to accommodate families searching for an activity that everyone can enjoy. Courses are working harder than ever to accommodate golfers of all ages.
More generally, making the process enjoyable for your children is the greatest approach to get them started. Have them play initially with just a few clubs. Put a ball (or tee one up) down the fairway about 100 yards from the hole and instruct them to play there rather than having them hit from the tee box. If they would rather a break, don’t force them play every hole. Additionally, don’t stress about maintaining score. It’s important to keep it lighthearted so that they’ll want to play golf again in the future.
Playing for the first time with kids entails being aware of their limited attention spans, as we mentioned in our primer six recommendations for bringing your kids on the course a few years ago. Accept that to prevent the experience from dragging. Instead of asking when we’re leaving, it’s better for them to be angry that they have to leave.
Our survival manual, “How to play golf with your kids,” also includes a few useful tips. To make it more enjoyable, think about using a new score system. Allow players to accumulate points by getting the ball out of a bunker or making solid contact on each swing. The likelihood that your children’s first golfing experience will be the start of many increases if you “gamify” the sport.
And one more thing. Playing with your children requires you to put your own game and score aside. You can concentrate on such things on any other day.
Sam Weinman, Ryan Herrington, Matthew Rudy, Stephen Hennessey, and Mike Stachura all contributed to this story.