How to Play Golf

Taking your first steps

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Learn how to play the right way

This game has that effect on you, especially when you are new to it. Every shot you take is a challenging opportunity that presents itself right in front of you. A lesson I quickly learned was, don’t get frustrated. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t manage to get the ball into the hole. I’ve been there too. It took me days and months of persistent practice to believe that I can play golf. It also took a great deal of understanding of the game to get this stage where I currently am. I am still a beginner, and I have got a long way to go. But I would like to share my experience to help amateurs and aspiring golfers to ameliorate the learning experience. After all, this game is one of a kind, and it can leave you feeling surprisingly refreshed even after a long and tiresome week. 

Quoting the words of one of the greatest golfers, Arnold Daniel Palmer, “What other people may find in poetry or museums, I find in the flight of a good drive.” Do you consider it your hobby or is golf an obsession for you? Whatever golf means to you, you are not alone. This is a simple game with all the sophistication of becoming your favorite pastime. The game knows no age nor gender and changes you in many positive ways.  So let’s just get to it.

Reading Time: 25 Mins

So you want to play golf?

The very first step you should take to become a good golfer is to make up your mind to know the game and to respect it. The game can appear complicated and mastering some shots, and some clubs might seem impossible. Therefore, it is alright to be imperfect in this game as long as you try without giving up. Only when you give up are you out of the game. Your game style would soon become a reflection of your personality and your sportive spirit. I know that this is easier said than done but play with a cool head and a focused mind.

INVEST IN THE RIGHT GOLFING GEAR

Getting the right gear, doesn’t mean it has to be expensive.

Second Hand Clubs

The detail

There are inexpensive branded ones offered at an excellent price for resale at some online retailers. Google is your friend in this instance.

Look out for offers

The detail

Look for offers from local golf stores as well as e-commerce platforms. This can become time-consuming but if you are on a budget, this will save you money.

Pick Beginer friendly Clubs

The detail

Pick irons with a cavity back design, this makes them beginner-friendly. This will for sure start you on the right track to learning this great game.

Ask around

The detail

Check with your friends and family members who play golf to see if they have old clubs to resell or lend you for your practice sessions.

Join a golf club

The detail

Enroll in a good golf training class where you can practice with their equipment. This will give you time to save for the equipment you really want, while upskilling and becoming a better player.

Don’t Skip The Rules

Like any other game, learning the rules should be your primary focus while learning golf. I was daunted every time I heard golfers mention golfing jargon. Therefore, that is where I started. There are plenty of essential golf rules that you should master as a beginner. Invest in the best golf-related books. If you can find a golf mentor who can share his experience-based lessons, then you are in luck.

Here are some scoring basics to remember above all:

GOLF BASIC RULES

PART 1
  • There are 18-holes on the golf field.
  • You are allowed a fixed set of shots to get the ball to each of these holes. This is called ‘par,’ which could be from 3 to 5 for each hole. A ‘par 4’ hole is one where it typically takes 4 shots to get the ball to the hole. The overall par count of the golf course is kept as 72 in most cases. 
  • Golfing scores are labelled with different terms based on the number of shots taken for the hole in comparison with its par.
  • It is called a ‘par’ if you take the exact amount of shots as the par count. That is, you take 3 shots to get the ball to a par 3 hole.
  • Bogey is where you take 1 shot more than the ‘par’ (you take 4 shots to get the ball to a par 3 hole).
  • Double bogey — 2 shots more than par.
  • Triple bogey- 3 shots more than par.
  • Birdie — 1 shot under par (you get the ball in 2 shots for a par 3 hole).
Beginner

GOLF BASIC RULES

PART 2
  • Eagle — 2 shots under par.
  • Albatross — 3 shots under par.
  • Condor — 4 shots under par.
  • You get the status of a good golfer when you play under par. 
  • You cannot swap balls while playing the same hole, and you can only take a maximum of 14 clubs with you in your bag. 
  • You should not tee the ball in front of the markers which are color-coded based on the proficiency level of the player. The ball falling in front of the tee by itself doesn’t count as a shot. But if your club makes contact and causes the ball to fall off, even if it has just dropped on the ground, it is still considered as a shot. 
  • When every golfer’s ball is in the green, the one whose ball is the farthest away from the hole takes the first putt. 
  • Hitting the ball beyond a defined boundary means hitting ‘out of bound.’ This adds a penalty shot. You can then use a provisional ball to take the shot from the same place where the previous ball that went out of bounds was present. 
Beginner

Check out the official page of the United States Golf Association for all the rules that you should be aware of. This is important before you get into professional tournaments. Till then, you are good to go with the above set of rules. These are the ones that I started out with, and now I’m sharing them with you. Read up and study the rules. It’s as important as playing the game.

FINE TUNING YOUR GOLF SKILLS

To play the game better, you should understand the nuances of the game. To understand the nuances of the game, you need information from various sources. This means reading books that will help your game get better. As I mentioned earlier, I reiterate this step — read as many books on golf as you can. There are some books that experts around the world swear by. These are some that I can recommend based on my experience:- 

Ben Hogan's Five Lessons

Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect

Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect

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The Greatest Game Ever Played 

The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost

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These are three books that are permanently in my bookshelf ever since I started playing golf. I am also reading Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. These books talk about game rules and also game tactics that you can only learn on the field. These are books by professionals who know the game inside out. Therefore, you get insightful information that you can apply to any game. It can help you identify the simplest of details that can drastically correct your game style forever. By reading these books, you would know about the significance of each club as well as how and where to use them in your games. You can also sharpen your swing style and game techniques on the whole. 

Practice with the 80/20 rule as your magic potion.

If you are confused looking at all the clubs in your bag and if your head reels simply deciding on which club to master first, remember the 80-20 rule in golf. This indicates that to learn the game better, the right method is to practice short game for 80% of the time and then spend 20% of the time for other techniques. Your chipping and putting skills are some of the best places, to begin with.

The 80/20 Rule

80/20 rule of golf

Your putts matter more than your drives when you are just starting your golf journey. When you get better with your putts, your techniques with the driver improves on its own, right when you might need it. Focus on improving the consistency of your game. You should gain a better understanding of your swing speed, stroke style, and other parameters. This is where you learn about your strengths and weaknesses in the game. You might do well with some help in this area. Enrolling in a golf class changed the way I played my game, forever and for good. 

Your Putts Matter

Take up classes

I would say that spending more money on a golf class makes a better investment for the game than spending on an extravagantly priced club. The club might come with you for years, but you need the right game style to be able to make the most of that club. Look for dependable professional golf trainers in your local area. You can make use of the training sessions to learn all the golf jargon and learn what’s new in the world of golf. You would also be able to build a network and take part in competitive tournaments later on, as you progress in the game. These classes can help you break those lousy golf habits. Unlearning can be difficult. Your trainer might also be able to help you understand your game style and your handicap. You can ask for tips to lower your handicap and also seek assistance in picking golf gear. Therefore, you would know that you are picking nothing but the best golf gear for your learning process.

Along with all these steps here are some tips that I recommend for any amateur golfer :-

  • Correct your posture
  • Work on your stance 
  • Get the right grip installed on your club
  • Quality of the club matters more than the price
  • Strengthen your physique in general. This comes handy as you would be straining your back during the hours of intense practice.
  • Consider the weight of the club. Pick beginner-friendly clubs and balls for your practice 
  • Reserve your driver for later on in the game. This is not a club that beginners have to fret over. 

Bonus Guide | Practice Your Game during Winter

golfing during winter

For most if not all golfers, the winter months are the worst and all we ever seem to do is yearn for the spring to hurry up. When thinking about how many parts of the world experience snow-filled winters, it’s easy to trade the golf clubs in for skis or a snowboard as soon as the first snow flake appears.

A large majority of golfers don’t hesitate to put golf on the back burner over the winter. They then come back to the game in the spring every year wondering where their golf game went. To me, golf is like playing the piano. You can spend ages learning how to play, but if you do not keep up with it, your skills will slowly vanish. There is a wise saying that says, practice makes perfect.

In the golf world, one of the most widely faced issues is time. Some have issues finding the time away from life to get to a golf ground, never mind the four hours or more that are needed to play a round of golf. Below I will go through a few exercises that you could do in the comfort of your own home. These exercises will help to keep your game on track over the cold boring winter months.

Putting

Putting is a core element of golf as most of you know. It’s a part of a game where you need to pay a lot of attention if you want to see positive resultsPutting can also be the biggest source of anger and frustration for many golfers when starting outThe main thing to remember is that learning to Putt takes time.

Learning how to putt properly and also taking into consideration other variables such as the course you’re playing on, the weather and so onThe longer you practice and play, the more you realise that there are so many elements in a golf course that could affect your putting. The rolls and undulations of the grass, to the grass type, bend of the groundand many more.  As stated earlier, even the time and temperature of the day, as well as wind conditions have a part to play. These things all can have an effect on your game of golf. The more advanced you get, the more things you notice that could impact your game.

golfer puting

More on Putting...

If you feel like the carpet is good enough for yougrab a cup or plastic container. Make sure this container is not as big as your handCommonly, the smaller the “cup or container”, the harder your shot will be. As you get used to that small cup, try using different sizes placed in specific spots around the carpet. This advice might seem stupid, but when winter has set in and there is no other way to practice your putting, what else are you going to do? Don’t let the cold conditions stop you practicing at home. 

If you can hold off wanting to learn everything there is to know about golf all at once, believe me when I say, take your time, the practice you put in will pay off eventually. Rome was not built in a day and you can’t be the next world champion by next week. Give yourself time to learn properly, you can only learn properly if you take your time to understand each element fully.

This is so true when it comes to keeping your putting in shape during the winter months. One thing that helped me to be able to keep my putting in shape during the winter months was practicing at home, during “TV Chill Time”. The wife obviously wasn’t too happy about me not enjoying “TV Chill Time” with her. However, in her eyes the sooner I got good at putting the sooner I would stop complaining about it. If your carpet is not suitable for training your putt, then see if you can invest in a putting mat. You can get these from most golf stores or even online.

Exercising and Physical Health

There are many exercises and gadgets that have been specifically made for the golf market. These mostly tend to confuse and exhaust golfers because it’s a never-ending stream of “try this now”, “you need this club”, “this will improve your game”. A lot of these exercises or equipment were created to help improve specific areas of the body that are important to golf. These areas include the back to help with balance and flexibility. Multiple muscle groups to help with strength and toningNow bear with me, I know you are here to read about golf, but yoga, Pilate’s and other forms of balance core-oriented training are the best activities to keep your center of gravity on pointMost modern gyms have programs created specifically for golfers. If you feel you would prefer to go down the gym route, consult your doctor first.

Golfer doing his excercises

Cardio

Cardio is something a lot of golfers shy away from. Some feel all they need are muscles and they should be just fine. The thing you need to remember is that unlike other sports like soccer, swimming, basketball or tennis. Playing golf does not increase cardiovascular conditioning. Which in turn, means you have to put the work in and do it yourself. It doesn’t mean you have run ten miles every day plus go to the gym. Just try incorporating a few cardio exercises into your daily routine. Make your heart pump for a minimum of 5 minutes. Initially, it will seem like a pain, but you have to make it a habit. Remember, you have to try and keep your body in shape during the winter months.  

A Final Note

Golf is one of those games that you cannot master overnight. You might need days or months of practice. Do not get disappointed too soon or do not give up on your practice session. You can attain consistency in the game only if you are consistent in practicing it. All the books you read and the information your trainer might provide you can be put to good use only with practice. You might get the basics of how to alter your swing speed or how to improve the spin etc. from various sources of information. You would actually have to hold your club and take the shot to know what it feels like. This experience makes the actual impact. 

Warren Belmore

Warren Belmore

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