Golf is a fantastic sport that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels. However, like any new hobby, picking up golf for the first time can feel intimidating. With so much equipment, terminology, and rules to learn, it’s easy for beginners to feel overwhelmed.
This guide aims to walk you through everything you need to know to get started with golf, from choosing the right equipment to basic techniques and strategies to use out on the course. With some dedication and regular practice, you’ll be sinking putts and making great contact with your clubs in no time. So grab your clubs and let’s get started!
A Brief History of Golf
Before we dive into the practical side of learning golf, let’s first take a quick look at the origins of the game.
The exact beginnings of golf are disputed, but it is widely believed to have originated from a game played in 15th-century Scotland. Players would hit a pebble around the beach and rabbit holes using sticks and other makeshift clubs.
From these humble beginnings, the game evolved to feature a leather pouch stuffed with feathers instead of a pebble. This early golf ball was hit around obstacle courses of tree roots, bushes, and dirt mounds using wooden-shafted clubs made from apple tree wood.
The first standardized rules emerged from St Andrews Links in 1754. Golf began spreading across the UK and overseas throughout the 1800s. Today it is a global sport with hundreds of millions of players.
While equipment and playing styles have advanced significantly, golf has retained that satisfying sensation of striking a ball with a club that first captivated players on the beaches of Scotland centuries ago. Now let’s explore how you can start experiencing that feeling for yourself!
Choosing Golf Clubs for Beginners
One of the first steps to picking up golf is choosing a good starter set of clubs. As a beginner, you’ll want clubs that allow you to easily get the ball airborne and are forgiving on mishits. Here are the key factors to consider when selecting beginner golf clubs:
A full standard set of clubs contains 14 sticks:
- Driver – the biggest club in your bag used for long tee shots
- Fairway woods – numbered 3-5 for mid-range shots from the fairway
- Hybrids – versatile clubs that combine aspects of woods and irons
- Irons – numbered from 6 to 9 plus a Pitching Wedge and Sand Wedge
- Putter – for rolling the ball into the hole on the green
As a beginner, you can get by with just a driver, a putter, a hybrid club, a 7-iron, a pitching wedge, and a sand wedge. This stripped-down set allows you to play while you improve before investing in a full set.
For beginners with slower swing speeds, flexible shafts help you get a better distance from your shots. Stick to regular or senior shaft flexes as you are learning.
Offset clubs have the shaft set back slightly behind the clubface, making it easier to get balls airborne and avoid slices. It is ideal for beginners.
Larger clubhead sizes are more forgiving for off-center hits, making them a smart choice for beginners. Look for oversized woods and game improvement irons.
As a new player, buying used clubs can save you money as you develop your skills. Shop at used sporting goods stores or online to find quality clubs at reduced prices.
Selecting Your First Set of Golf Balls
Choosing the right golf balls is also important for beginners. Here are features to look for in your first set of golf balls:
- Two-piece construction – Most distance-focused budget balls have a two-piece design. This rubber core with a durable synthetic cover provides straight, consistent shots.
- Low compression – Beginner swing speeds benefit from softer low-compression balls that are easier to compress on impact.
- Matte finish – Matte covers reduce glare and are typically more scuff-resistant than glossy covers.
- Bright colors – Vibrant balls are easier to spot for beginners. Go with orange, yellow, or green balls.
- Bulk packs – Buying inexpensive used or bulk pack golf balls allows beginners to stock up without worrying about losing balls.
Some top-rated golf ball options for beginners include the Wilson Ultra 500, Titleist DT TruSoft, and Callaway Supersoft Golf Balls.
Getting Properly Fitted for Golf Equipment
Now that you’ve selected starter clubs and balls, it’s important to get properly fitted by a professional. Even standard off-the-shelf clubs can be adjusted to match your size and swing type.
Here are the key fitting specifications a pro will dial in for new golfers:
- Club length – Matched to your height and wrist-to-floor distance.
- Lie angle – Set so the clubface aligns squarely with the ball at impact.
- Flex-fitting validates that your flex selection is right for your swing speed.
- Grip – Choose the right size and material for your hand size.
Getting this initial fitting analysis will ensure your clubs allow optimal performance as you continue learning the game.
How do You Find a Golf Instructor or Couch?
One of the best investments any beginner can make is to take a few lessons from a PGA-certified golf teaching professional. A seasoned instructor will be able to analyze your swing and identify areas for improvement. They will also teach you proper setup, grip, and posture right from the start.
Here are some tips for finding a great local golf instructor as a beginner:
- Ask friends, family, or co-workers for references to good coaches they’ve used.
- Check for pros at your home course or local driving ranges.
- Search online reviews of instructors in your area.
- Look for a coach who specializes in beginners – they’ll have more patience and experience teaching newcomers.
- Ask about lesson pricing and teaching philosophy to find the right fit.
- Try out a single session with a few different coaches to see who you work well with.
Investing in lessons early when you are first learning will instill good fundamentals and prevent bad habits from developing.
Mastering a Proper Golf Grip
Your grip directly affects every aspect of your swing and ball striking. Mastering a proper golf grip early on is crucial. Let’s take a look at how to correctly grip your clubs:
When holding the club, your lead hand (the left hand for right-handed players) should grasp the club mostly in the fingers of your palm, with your right hand more in the palm itself. Stack your hands directly on top of each other.
Lightly press the club into the last three fingers of your lead hand, and the pad just below your right thumb and index finger. Keep your grip pressure light overall.
Point the “Vs” formed by your thumb and forefinger of both hands towards your chin to align your clubface squarely.
Have your teaching pro double-check your specific grip size, hand placement, and pressure points to fine-tune your ideal grip.
Take time to practice your grip without a ball first. An incorrect grip that’s too tight or turned the wrong way makes it impossible to strike the ball well.
Stance and Posture Setup
Proper stance and posture setup promotes balance, consistency, and ball striking. Practice these foundation mechanics:
Stand about shoulder-width apart, with your feet aligned parallel left of the target line. Maintain an athletic stance, not rigid or overly loose.
Bend slightly at the hips to “sit” into your stance. Keep your back straight, and chest up, and avoid rounding your shoulders.
Position the ball just inside your lead foot’s arch for most shots, ensuring consistent impact. Tee it at driver height.
Evenly distribute your weight between your feet. Never sway or shift your weight during the swing.
Align your body parallel left of the target with the clubface, feet, knees, hips, and shoulders all square.
Practice aligning to intermediate targets first, not just the hole. Proper aim and alignment of every shot are crucial.
Driving Range Basics
Once you have clubs and basic grip, stance, and posture down, it’s time to start hitting balls at the driving range. Here are some driving range tips for beginners:
- Buy a bucket of range balls and hit over a flat, grassy area of the range – avoid elevated and mat-only areas at first.
- Choose shorter clubs to start – hybrids, 7-irons, and wedges allow easier ball striking.
- Focus on smooth, balanced takeaways and full finish swings – don’t just “hit at” the ball.
- Align carefully to your target on every shot – pick specific yardage markers to aim for.
- Focus on consistent, solid contact before trying to hammer drives at full power.
- Watch other players for ideas, but avoid overanalyzing or making major changes.
- Stay positive! Everyone hits bad shots, especially when starting.
The driving range is the ideal place to comfortably work on your swing mechanics without pressure before taking your skills onto the course.
Proper Swing Plane
As you are hitting balls and feeling more comfortable, pay attention to the swing plane. The swing plane is the path the club travels on during your swing.
For optimal ball-striking:
- Keep your backswing, transition, and follow-through all on the same inclined plane. Avoid dipping.
- Visualize the clubhead traveling in a wide arc on a tilted angle.
- Allow your wrists to hinge naturally up and down to start the backswing and follow through.
- Monitor whether you swing too far inside-to-outside or outside-to-inside.
Having a consistent, proper swing plane gives you an efficient, powerful motion for clean ball striking.
Solid Ball Contact Concepts
Making solid contact is challenging for all beginners. Use these impact concepts to make crisp ball contact:
Brush the Grass
Imagine sweeping the clubhead just over the grass, lightly brushing blades at impact. Don’t dig deep.
Hit Through the Ball
Strike with a slightly descending blow to compress the ball into the turf just after impact.
Contact Then Turf
Brushing grass after contacting the ball reduces chunked shots from hitting turf first.
Ball Then Divot
When hitting less lofted irons pure, you will take divots after the ball – but still contact first.
Visualize swinging in-to-out slightly left of your target line for straighter shots.
With some practice, these simple concepts will help you make consistent ball-first contact and get the satisfying sensation of pure shots.
Types of Golf Shots
As you get comfortable with full shots at the driving range, start expanding your repertoire to specialty golf shots you’ll need out on the course:
Use woods and your driver to launch tee shots at maximum distance.
Longer approach shots into the green from the fairway lies.
Mid-range shots around 200 yards out from good lies.
Accuracy approach shots from 100 yards and in.
Recovering and advancing from tough spots around greens.
Short-game finesse shots that launch the ball high but land soft.
Rolling the ball along the putting surface and into the hole.
Practice each of these unique shots separately. You’ll need all types of golf shots in your arsenal to score well as a beginner.
Golf Course Basics
Once you have a solid grip, decent ball striking, and some fundamental swing mechanics down, you’re ready to take your skills from the range onto a real golf course. Here is an overview of basic golf course concepts:
Where you start a hole by placing your ball on a tee and hitting your drive.
Wide, mowed grass area you want to hit to off the tee. Rough is deep grass along the sides.
Short, very closely mowed grass surrounding the hole. Putt on these areas.
Bunkers, water features, and thick vegetation that add challenge. Play carefully around these.
The expected number of strokes to complete a hole. Scoring par or better is the goal.
Birdies and Eagles
One or two under par on a hole. Great scores for pros, rare for beginners.
Bogeys and Double Bogeys
One or two over par for a hole. Typical scores for newer players.
Out of Bounds
Areas marked by white stakes or fences where balls are considered lost.
One extra stroke is added to your score for errors like out-of-bounds shots.
Have fun exploring the course layout, scenery, and atmosphere of playing different courses.
Golf Etiquette and Pace of Play
A critical aspect of learning golf is following proper on-course etiquette and maintaining a good pace of play, including:
- Be respectful and avoid distracting groups by taking shots or putting.
- Stand still and remain quiet when others are hitting nearby.
- Help spot wayward tee shots and search for lost balls for others in your group.
- Limit your pre-shot routine to two practice swings at most.
- Always use cart paths where available instead of driving up to your ball.
- Keep pace with the group ahead, not just behind. Allow faster groups to play through.
- Leave the course in the same or better condition than you found it.
- Shake hands and thank your playing partners sincerely after the round.
Following golf etiquette speeds up play and creates a welcoming environment that new players will appreciate as you continue improving on the course.
Golf Scoring Basics
In addition to USGA handicapping and the typical stroke play scoring rules, beginners playing casual rounds with friends should also familiarize themselves with basic golf scoring concepts:
- Stableford – Earn points for pars, birdies, and eagles, with no penalties for bogeys. Great for beginners playing low-pressure rounds.
- Best Ball – Each player plays their ball, and the lowest score on a hole counts for the team. Fun for casual team games.
- Scramble – After tee shots each player hits from the group’s best ball position on every shot. Fast, engaging format.
- Skins – Holes are worth a set value with players needing to win holes outright to take the skin for that hole. Adds excitement.
Understanding these popular formats makes golf more fun from the beginning and removes scorecard pressure as you are getting started.
Helpful Training Aids
Beginners can benefit from using stance, grip, and swing training aids to ingrain proper mechanics through muscle memory:
- Alignment sticks and rails – Establish consistent setup positions and swing paths.
- Swingyde – Grooves an ideal inside-out club path for irons and woods.
- Tour Striker Smart Ball – Exaggerates impact slap to improve strike and compression.
- Impact bag – Solo hitting station teaches correct driver swing path and impact.
- Putting mirrors – Provides instant feedback for alignment, posture, and stroke.
- Eyeline putting guides – Helps calibrate ideal putting setup and mechanics.
Investing in quality training aids in simplifying practice and shortens the learning curve substantially.
Helpful Videos for Beginners
In addition to lessons and training aids, a wealth of free instructional golf content on YouTube and social media can help beginners improve quickly.
Some top channels featuring teaching pros include:
- Me and My Golf – Entertaining instructors covering all facets of the game.
- Eric Cogorno Golf – Excellent slow-motion analysis of pro swings.
- Rick Shiels Golf – Guides from a top British PGA pro.
- Chris Ryan Golf – Short swing breakdowns using graphics and overlays.
- Swing Profile Golf – Ultra high-speed swing analysis.
- Golfplan – Lesson playlists for beginners and improvers.
Consuming free golf instruction videos speeds up learning and gives you a window into how the pros play the game at the highest level.
Play Smart On-Course Strategy
As a newcomer to golf, avoid thinking your main objectives are smashing huge drives and firing at every pin. Smart beginners should adhere to sound on-course strategies:
- Move up tee boxes to play shorter, manageable distances.
- Focus on hitting fairways, not just maximum distance.
- Favor the middle of greens, not tucked pins.
- Avoid high-risk shots over hazards you aren’t ready for.
- Take more clubs and make smooth swings for approach shots.
- Use bump-and-run shots around greens to avoid chunked chips.
- Keep the ball below the hole on putts to avoid scary downhill putts.
With the right strategic mindset, you can shoot respectable scores using your growing arsenal of basic golf skills.
Be Patient and Have Fun!
The final key for golf beginners is to be patient with yourself and remember the ultimate goal is having fun! Golf is a challenging game that takes consistent practice and perseverance to master. Appreciate progress when you make it, laugh off bad shots, and enjoy the thrill of pure strikes along the way.
With the fundamentals covered in this guide, you are now equipped with everything you need to start an enjoyable and rewarding journey toward golf mastery. So grab your clubs, head to the course, and let the fun begin!
FAQs about Golf Tips for Beginners
What is the best way for a beginner to learn golf?
The best way for beginners to learn golf is by taking lessons from a certified PGA golf instructor. An experienced teacher will help you build a proper, effective swing foundation and engrain good habits from the start.
How should a beginner practice golf swing?
Beginners should focus practice time on short-game skills like chipping, pitching, and putting which account for most shots in a round. For full swing practice, master grip, stance, and posture first before making full shots on the range.
Are golf lessons worth it for beginners?
Absolutely. Golf lessons help beginners avoid developing bad swing flaws right off the bat. A few lessons early on will jumpstart your learning curve and prevent wasted time practicing incorrectly.
Can you teach yourself how to play golf?
It’s possible for motivated beginners to teach themselves golf from books and videos, but taking at least some lessons speeds progress. Learning on your own lacks feedback and runs the risk of ingraining poor mechanic
How to practice golf for beginners?
Beginner golfers should split practice time between lessons, short-game skills, and full-swing fundamentals before playing full rounds. Chipping, pitching, putting, grip, and basic swing techniques require focused practice.
How do I choose golf clubs for my height?
Visit a pro shop and get properly fitted for clubs matched to your height and proportions. Standard club lengths range from ladies’ to standard men’s, mid-length, and overlength. Tall beginners may need +1″ or more.