Congratulations! You want to learn how to play golf and you may not know where to start. Maybe you’ve seen the pros play or have a group of friends heading to the golf course this weekend and you’re ready to join them. where do you start? While it can be difficult to get started, we’ve put together a simple golf guide. We’ll show you everything you need to know about gear, what to wear, how to improve and play a round on the course.
What equipment will you need
Having the right equipment is the first step in learning to play golf. Here is a list of the equipment you will need to get started:
- golf bag
- Golf balls
- golf glove
- Ball marker
- golf towel
- Divot repair tool
Clubs in your bag
The most important piece of equipment you will take to the golf course is the golf clubs. Get ready for a lifelong pursuit of improvement with every club in your bag. With the right equipment, you’ll enjoy your quest to master the clubs.
The rules of golf say that you can carry up to 14 clubs in your bag. That’s a lot of clubs! As a beginner learning to play golf, you probably won’t need to carry as many things with you. Depending on the set of clubs you play with, don’t feel compelled to master every stick in your bag. There are a few clubs you’ll want to focus on first:
- Short irons – refer to the good iron hit 7, 8 and 9. The goal of these clubs is to hit from a reasonable distance with longer airtime. One of the first skills you should try to develop is hitting the ball in the air. Short irons provide the best path to developing this skill.
- Putter – when you learn to play golf, you will find that a good score is found in good putting. You can easily make as many strokes on the green as off the green in one hole. Learn the basics of putting on the green and becoming familiar with putting on the ball.
- Wedges – in most cases your wedges will help you bridge the gap between the fairway and the entrance to the green. Learn how to hit the ball in the air using wedges at close range to create ball spin.
You may have noticed that drivers are not listed in the clubs to focus on first. Put simply, there is a large margin of error when it comes to hitting the driver. The driver is typically only used for one stroke per hole, while irons, putters, and wedges are used in a variety of ways. If you can hit the ball well with the iron and wedges, you’ll be more successful in golf early on.
What golf ball should I use?
Learning to play golf means you’ll be cutting and hooking the ball a lot. All right! It’s part of the game. You probably spent a decent amount of change on clubs and other equipment. When buying golf balls, do not choose the more expensive options, despite some of their advantages. You won’t be able to take advantage of more expensive golf balls until you gain more experience and skill.
When choosing a golf ball, choose something that is within your budget. If you can find your ball better on the golf course with a colored ball, that’s generally fine on golf courses. If you want to find a quality ball you can rely on to play, test what works best for your putter. Just know that you will pay more for higher quality golf balls.
Learning to use clubs
Getting used to hitting with sticks will come after many hours of practice. As you learn to play golf, prioritize your time at the driving range. Start developing an exercise routine with irons, starting with short irons and working your way up to the driver.
Get the most out of your practice
One of the most common mistakes a new player can make while practicing is not having a goal while practicing. If you just watch to see if your ball is in the air and generally straight, you’re doing yourself a disservice in practice. Always have a target for every shot you fire. In a real round of golf you will always have a goal and it should be no different when practicing.
When training, be sure to spend some time on the green. Here you can practice chipping and putting. Early on when you’re learning to play golf, you’ll find yourself short or off the course. If you can develop the skills necessary to hit the ball close to the hole, you will be more successful early on.
When it comes to learning and practicing putting, take three golf balls to the practice green and hit one hole with each. As you practice, try to feel the speed of your strokes and understand how much power you need to put into each stroke. Also start learning to read in green. This means looking at the slopes and angles of the green so you can better aim your shot.
Check out our guide on how to hit better for more tips!
Apply what you learned from the links
It’s easy for players to get caught up practicing full-time and not apply what they’ve learned on the course during a round of golf. While you may think that playing golf will be a waste of money, you need to apply what you’ve learned to a real round of golf. The best thing you can do before you start playing is set your expectations. For example, if you’ve been focusing on improving your putting, set your goal to 3-putt only twice in a round. Tracking your score should be low on your priority list as you learn to play.
Playing a round on the golf course
Playing the first round on a golf course can look intimidating and you may have questions about how to go from start to finish. One of the best recommendations is play with friends who have experience. You’ll feel more comfortable having your friends walk you through all the parts of the round you may not be familiar with.
How many holes should you play?
On most golf courses you have the choice of 9 or 18 holes. As a beginner golf learner, 9 holes is enough to gain experience without overdoing it. Ultimately, the number of holes you play is up to you.
What are the different pairs on the course?
Par is the number of strokes needed to break even on each hole. Each hole will have a par 3, 4 or 5. A par 3 is your shortest hole and takes 3 strokes to break even. You will usually be able to reach the green in one shot. A par 4 hole will be a moderate distance from the hole, requiring either a driver hit or a long iron to set up a second shot to reach the green. The par 5 hole is the longest hole on the golf course. You can be more creative with your par 5 strategy because you have 3 shots to get to the green to hit the birdie.
As mentioned earlier, beginners should not focus so much on the par hole. The number one goal for new golfers is hitting the ball well, not 3-putting. It may be easy to focus on scoring well, but the reality is that even seasoned golfers still struggle to score well on the course. Control what you can control and focus on the basics first before thinking about getting a bird.
Which tee box should I hit from?
When you get to the first hole you will see 3-4 different tee boxes from which to hit. Each tee box will have different colored tags, and here’s what each one means:
- Red jerseys – Commonly known as the women’s jersey with the shortest distance to the hole
- Gold jerseys – Senior jerseys with a slightly greater distance from the hole than the women’s jersey
- White shirts – A men’s shirt, usually designed for medium to high handicap golfers. A reasonable middle option used by most male golfers
- Blue jerseys – A men’s jersey usually used for tournament play or low handicap male players. One of the furthest distances to the hole
- Black T-shirts – farthest from the hole and the hardest. Reserved for men’s touring professionals.
- Green jerseys – used for juniors. Much closer distance to the hole like young golfers (not always on all courses)
If you’re a new golfer, don’t be shy about choosing red or gold jerseys. Your main goal is to hit the ball well and get in position to get to the green in a reasonable number of strokes. You can work further distances, improving your game.
How to follow all rules?
According to USGA Rule Book, there are 25 rules in total. These 25 rules contain numerous explanations that span hundreds of pages. It’s way too much to remember! You are not expected to memorize and learn the ins and outs of each rule before playing. However, you are expected to understand the basic rules of golf before playing.
Learn the basic rules
Here’s what you should know about the basic rules of golf:
- Play the ball as it lies – wherever you hit the ball, hit it where it lies. Don’t pick up the ball unless you are on the green (and marking it).
- Know the limits of each hole – If you hit your ball into an uneven or fairway of another hole, you may play the ball where it lies, unless it is marked out of bounds. Watch out for the white pegs on your hole. If your ball has crossed the white posts, you are out of bounds and must drop the ball within the bounds of the field and take a penalty kick.
- Don’t play the wrong ball – you may notice that many golf courses are arranged in such a way that many holes are adjacent to each other. As a result, other players’ golf balls may end up in your fairway. Make sure you know the type of ball you have so that you don’t hit someone else’s ball the next time you hit.
- Unplayable lies – while most of the time you have to play your ball as it lies, there are a few exceptions to the rule. If your ball is unplayable where it landed, the most common alternative is to move the ball two clubs to where it can be played. Take a penalty kick and then hit the ball.
Knowledge of basic golf etiquette
Golf etiquette is important to you and the players around you. Here are some essential golf etiquette information:
- The player furthest from the hole always hits first. This also applies to greens.
- The player with the lowest score will play first
- Mark your ball on the green to give other players the best reading of the green
- Give players plenty of room to take a shot
- Don’t cross someone’s line on the green. Go around!
- Search the bunker after the impact
- Be quiet when others are beating
- Fix your ball pits on the green and fill them with sand on the fairway
For a more detailed breakdown, check out our comprehensive guide to golf etiquette!
What to wear while playing golf?
The last thing you need to know when you’re learning to play golf is what to wear. There’s no need to overcomplicate golf attire, so here’s what the average golfer will wear on the golf course:
- Shorts or Pants – No jeans and try to avoid shorts or cargo pants
- Collared sports shirt – Try to wear a collared shirt that is breathable so you don’t overheat
- Trainers or golf shoes – you’ll be walking a lot, so make sure you’re comfortable
- Hat and sunglasses – not required, but will protect your face from the sun and provide more comfort
You have a wide range of options when it comes to what you wear, the most important factor being making sure you are comfortable while playing.
New golfers have a lot to digest while learning to play golf. The best way to improve your golf skills is to take it step by step. Playing golf is a lifelong activity that you can enjoy day after day. This guide will get you started, and the path you choose to improve your skill set is entirely up to you.
Check out more All Purpose Golf guides and tips to help you get on the path of improvement!