Congratulations! You want to learn how to play golf and you may not know where to get started. You may have seen the pros play or have a group of friends that get out to the golf course on the weekend and you’re ready to join them. Where do you start? While getting started may be daunting, we have provided a simple guide on how to play golf. We will show you everything you need to know about the equipment, what to wear, how to improve and play a round on the course.
What Equipment You Will Need
Having the right equipment is the first step to learning how to play golf. Here’s a list of the equipment you will need to get started:
- Golf Bag
- Golf Balls
- Golf Glove
- Ball Marker
- Golf Towel
- Divot Repair Tool
The Clubs In Your Bag
The most important equipment you will bring to the golf course is your golf clubs. Prepare for a lifetime pursuit of improvement with each and every club in your bag. With the right equipment, your pursuit of mastering the clubs will be one that you enjoy.
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 how to play golf, you will likely not need to carry this many. Depending on the set of clubs you play with, don’t feel inclined to master every single club in the bag. There are a few clubs you will want to focus on first:
- Short irons – get familiar with hitting your 7, 8, and 9 irons well. The purpose of these clubs is to hit for a reasonable distance with more air time. One of the first skills you should try to develop is hitting the ball in the air. Short irons give you the best path to developing that skill.
- Putter – as you learn how to play golf, you will find that a good score is found in good putting. You can easily have as many strokes on the green as you would off the green in one hole. Learn the fundamentals of putting on the green and familiarize yourself with putting the ball.
- Wedges – your wedges are going to help you fill the gap between the fairway and getting on the green in most cases. Learn how to hit the ball in the air with your wedges at close distances to produce spin on the ball.
You may have noticed that the drivers were not mentioned on 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 used for only one shot for each hole while your irons, putter, and wedges are used in a variety of ways. If you can hit the ball well with your irons and wedges, then you will find more success in golf early on.
Which Golf Ball Should I Use?
Learning how to play golf means that you are going to be slicing and hooking the ball a lot. That’s okay! It’s part of the game. You have likely spent a decent chunk of change on clubs and other equipment. When shopping for golf balls, don’t choose the more expensive options despite some of their advantages. You won’t be able to leverage the upsides of more expensive golf balls until you get more experience and skill under your belt.
When selecting a golf ball, choose something that is within your budget. If you can better find your ball on the course with a colored ball, that is generally okay at golf courses. If you want to look for a quality ball that you can rely on during play, test out what feels best with your putter. Just know you will pay more for the higher quality golf balls.
Learning How to Use Your Clubs
Getting comfortable with hitting your clubs will come with hours upon hours of practice. As you learn how to play golf, prioritize your time on the driving range. Start to develop a routine of practice with your irons by starting with your short irons and working your way up to the driver.
Get The Most Out of Practice
One of the most common mistakes a new player can make when practicing is not having a target when practicing. If you are just simply looking to see if your ball is hit in the air and generally straight, you are doing yourself a disservice in practice. Always have a target for each shot you take. In a real round of golf, you will always have a target and it should be no different during practice.
During your practice, make sure to spend some time on the green. This is where you can practice chipping and putting. Early on learning how to play golf, you will find yourself short or off the green. If you can develop the skills necessary to chip the ball close to the hole, you will find more success early on.
When it comes to learning and practicing putting, take three golf balls with you to the practice green and hit each of them to one hole. As you practice, try to get a feel of the speed of your putts and understand how much power you need to include in each putt. Start to learn to read the green as well. This means looking at the slopes and angles of the green so you can aim your putting stroke better.
Check out our guide on how to putt better for more tips!
Apply What You Learn On The Links
It is easy for players to get caught up practicing full-time and not apply what was learned on the range in a round of golf. While you may think playing a round of golf will be a waste of money, you need to apply what you have learned in a real round of golf. The best thing you can do before playing is to set expectations. For example, if you have been focussing on putting improvement, then set a goal to 3-putt only twice during your round. Keeping track of your score should be low on your priority list as you learn to play.
Playing a Round on the Golf Course
Playing your first round on the golf course may look intimidating and you may have questions about how to progress from start to finish. One of the best recommendations is to play with friends that have experience. You will be more comfortable as your friends guide you through any parts of the round you may not be familiar with.
How many holes should you play?
For the majority of golf courses, you have the option to play either 9 or 18 holes. As a beginner learning how to play golf, 9 holes will be enough to get you experience without overdoing it. Ultimately, the number of holes you play is up to you.
What are the different pars on a course?
Par is the number of strokes it takes for a break-even score on each hole. Each hole will be either a par 3, 4, or 5. The par 3 is your shortest hole and takes 3 strokes to break even in scoring. You will typically be able to reach the green in one shot. A par 4 hole will have a moderate distance to the hole requiring you to hit the driver or a long iron to set up you second shot to reach the green. A par 5 hole is the longest hole on the golf course. You can get more creative with your strategy on par 5s because you have 3 shots to reach the green in order to putt for a birdie.
As mentioned before, beginners shouldn’t focus as much on the par of the hole. The most important focus for new golfers is to hit the ball well and not 3-putt. It can be easy to focus on scoring well, but the reality is that even experienced golfers are still challenged with scoring well on the course. Control what you can control and focus on the fundamentals first before thinking about getting a birdie.
Which tee box should I hit from?
As you get to the first hole, you will see 3-4 different tee boxes to hit from. Each tee box will have different colored markers and here’s what each of them means:
- Red Tees – commonly known as the women’s tee with the shortest distance to the hole
- Gold Tees – Senior’s tees with a little more distance to the hole than the women’s tee
- White Tees – a men’s tee, typically intended for mid-to-high handicap golfers. A reasonable middle option used by most male golfers
- Blue Tees – Men’s tee typically used for tournament play or low handicap male players. One of the furthest distances to the hole
- Black Tees – Furthest from the hole and most challenging. Reserved for men’s touring professionals.
- Green Tees – used for junior players. Considerably closer distance to the hole as they are for young golfers (not always present on all golf courses)
If you are a new golfer, don’t be ashamed in choosing to hit off of the red or gold tees. Your main focus is hitting the ball well and getting in a position to reach the green in a reasonable number of shots. You can work your way up to further distances as you improve your game.
How Do I Keep Track Of All The Rules?
According to the USGA rule book, there are 25 rules in total. Those 25 rules have numerous clarifications that extend over hundreds of pages. That is way too much to memorize! You are not expected to memorize and know the ins and outs of every rule before you play. However, you will be expected to understand the basic rules of golf before you play.
Know The Basic Rules
Here’s what you should know about the basic rules of golf:
- Play the ball as it lies – where ever you hit the ball, hit it where it lies. Do not pick up the ball unless you are on the green (and marking it).
- Know the boundaries of each hole – If you hit your ball into the rough or fairway of another hole, you can play the ball where it lies as long as it is not designated as out of bounds. Keep an eye out for white stakes on your hole. If your ball has surpassed the white stakes, you are out of bounds and need to drop your ball in bounds and take a penalty stroke.
- Don’t play the wrong ball – you may notice that a lot of golf courses are laid out in a way that many holes neighbor each other. As a result, other players’ golf balls may end up on your fairway. Make sure you know the kind of ball you have so that as you go take your next shot, you are not hitting someone else’s ball.
- Unplayable lies – while most of the time you must 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-club lengths to a playable spot. Take a penalty stroke and then hit your ball.
Know Basic Golf Etiquette
Golf etiquette is important for yourself and the players around you. Here are a couple of must-knows for golf etiquette:
- The player furthest from the hole will always hit first. This goes for the green as well.
- The lowest-scoring player will tee off first
- Mark your ball on the green to give other players the best read of the green
- Give players plenty of space to take their shot
- Do not walk through someone’s line on the green. Go around!
- Rake the bunker after hitting out
- Be quiet while others are hitting
- Fix your ball divots on the green and fill in your divots with sand on the fairway
For a more detailed breakdown, check out our comprehensive guide on golf etiquette!
What To Wear When Playing Golf?
The last thing you need to know when learning how to play golf is what to wear. There’s no need to overcomplicate your golf attire so here’s what the average player will wear to the golf course:
- Shorts or pants – no jeans and try to avoid cargo shorts or pants
- Athletic collared shirt – try to wear a collared shirt that is breathable so you don’t overheat
- Athletic shoes or golf shoes – you will be doing a lot of walking so make sure you are comfortable
- Hat and sunglasses – not required but will shade your face from the sun and make you more comfortable
You have a wide range of options when it comes to what you wear, and the most important factor is making sure you are comfortable while playing.
New golfers have a lot to digest when learning how to play golf. The best way to improve your skills in golf is to take it one step at a time. The game of golf is a lifelong pursuit that you can enjoy day in and day out. This guide will help you get started and the path you take to improving your skillset is all up to you.
Check out more of All Purpose Golf’s guides and tips to help set you on the path to improvement!