Golf for Beginners: Tips on How to Get Started

Mar 04, 2024
beginner golfer

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Golf for beginners can be both exciting and intimidating. There’s a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming when everyone else out there is dressed to impress and already in the swing of things. This article will touch on a little bit of everything; equipment, etiquette, swing mechanics and other essentials to help you feel at home on the fairway. 

Equipment

Getting your own equipment is one of the quickest ways to make yourself feel at home on the golf course. With the plethora of options out there on the market, it can be intimidating to know what to buy and how much to spend. Here are some simple ideas you can keep in mind when looking to purchase clubs or balls.

Best Golf Clubs for Beginners

Before you can golf, you need clubs. Now, you can certainly rent a set from the course’s clubhouse. However, if you’re going to be golfing a lot, the rental fees will add up quickly, and you’ll be limited to their selection. It’s possible they won’t have the right size, hand, or style of club for you, which could contribute to faulty swing mechanics right off the bat (not good).

If you’re hooked on golf, and ready to start playing regularly, then investing in a good set of beginner clubs is one of your best buys up front. You don’t need anything fancy, and in fact, if you’re spending more than $300 on your first set, you’re probably overextending yourself unnecessarily. Good places to look are thrift/department stores, online marketplaces, and Costco.

High quality brands like TaylorMade, Wilson, Callaway and Titleist make some of the best golf clubs for beginners, and are often resold in good condition for cheaper prices. Get something modern; better than your Grandpa’s wooden clubs, but not as luxurious as what you see being carried around on tour. Your performance has far more to do with you than your equipment.

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Best Golf Balls for Beginners

Beginners will naturally have a slower swing speed as they learn to put together the complex and incredibly dynamic athletic movement that is the golf swing. Something that can aid in consistency and performance during these awkward introductory periods is the use of a ball that offers both distance and forgiveness simultaneously. 

You may not realize it when first starting out, but you actually don’t have to swing that fast to hit far. A slow but accurate swing is far more desirable than a fast and inaccurate one. Coupled with the right ball, you’ll be hitting pars and birdies in no time. These are some of the attributes you want in a golf ball as a beginner:

  • Soft feel
  • High ball flight
  • Forgiveness
  • Good greenside spin

To learn more about picking the right ball, check out this article we wrote on The 3 Best Golf Balls for Slow Swing Speed.

Etiquette

Golf is a gentleman’s game, and as such, there are several rules of etiquette (whether formal or informal) that should be followed when on course or on the grounds period. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.

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Dress Appropriately

It’s important that you dress in a civilized manner as a visitor to any course. You don’t need to spend hundreds on special outfits, but you want to make sure your clothes are free of holes, tears, and stains. No offensive clothing. No graphic tees. Casual dress or athletic business wear and athletic/casual shoes is the norm. Khakis, cargo shorts, polos, hats and sports shirts style of wear.

Respect Others

Golf is a sport with a huge component of respect. It starts with your tee time. Show up early for your appointment and make sure you’re starting when you’re supposed to. Don’t make noise while others are teeing off—it’s distracting, annoying and disrespectful. Pay attention to where you are in the line up, and make sure you’re ready to play when it’s your turn.

Flow of Play

As a beginner, it’s likely that you will be shanking balls off course into hazards, obstacles and no-man’s land in general. Be aware of your surroundings—if you’re holding up play, take a drop somewhere and consider the other ball an anonymous donation to the club. That being said, also, if the group behind you is catching up, consider letting them play through to avoid frustrations.

Follow the Rules

Do your due diligence and put a bit of time into understanding the rules of golf prior to playing, especially if you’re heading out with people of varying experience. Don’t be afraid to let others know that you’re new, and may need help from time to time with understanding what the rules are. If you’re respectful, you’ll see that others are more than willing to accommodate you.

Repair the Course

You always want to leave a spot in the same condition or better than you found it. If you hit a divot, be sure to place the chunk back into its place and give it a light step with your foot. Smooth out ball marks on the green, rake the sand bunkers after use, and just overall be respectful of the property by keeping it clean and squared away.

Sportsmanship

Keep yourself in check while playing. There’s nothing worse than a sore loser or arrogant beginner out on the course. If you hit a great shot, good, enjoy it—but be humble. If you miss a shot or hit one into oblivion, good, take the L—but don’t lose your composure and embarrass yourself. Everyone else is trying to have a good time too, make sure you contribute to that.

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Golf Tips for Beginners

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of equipment and etiquette, let’s jump into some tips on your grip, stance, swing mechanics and strategy. Learning about these things and paying attention to them while you play will help you with your confidence, while at the same time creating an overall solid foundation to build off of in the future.

Grip

Understanding how to grip a golf club is one of the first things you’ll learn when starting out in golf. Some beginners use a ten-finger grip, which places your dominant hand (right for a right-handed golfer) stacked underneath your non-dominant hand. The most common grip you’ll see, though, is an overlapping grip; you can learn more about which grip to use with this article

Stance

Your stance is the foundation from which you will generate torque and power during the swing, so it’s essential that you practice it properly. You’ll want your feet approximately shoulder-width apart and parallel to the target line (i.e. where you want the ball to go). Find the stance that hits these marks, as well:

  • Slight bend in your knees to help load the hips and hamstrings
  • Neutral spine with your shoulders perpendicular to the target line
  • Hips, shoulders and feet should all be square
  • Weight distributed evenly on both feet in the setup

Swing Mechanics

All golfers are working on their swing all the time. It’s a never-ending practice. So as a beginner, here’s what you should be focusing on—slow, fluid movement throughout the entire swing. Smooth take-away and wind up in the back swing, full extension and rotation in the follow-through. Focus on hitting the ball square on the club face. Speed will come with practice.

Strategy

Strategy as a beginner should revolve around becoming a better golfer, not on outcomes like score or driving distance. Focus on consistency in your shots as opposed to trying to impress others with how far you can hit the ball. Give yourself some grace, and aim up with your performance while at the same time not expecting yourself to be very good at first.

Strength & Mobility Training with Dynamic Golfers

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Written by Eric Lister - Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

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