If you’ve always wanted to learn the game of golf, you’ve come to the right place! This comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know as a beginner – from the rules and etiquette to mastering essential golf skills. Golf- how to play it, you will find out with us.
Learning proper technique and golf fundamentals from the very start will set you up for success on the course. Use this as your complete instruction manual for picking up a golf club for the first time and becoming an educated player. Let’s get started!
Before you head to the course, you’ll need to invest in some basic golf equipment. As a beginner, focus on picking up these golf essentials:
At minimum, you should have:
- A driver for tee shots
- A putter for the green
- An iron like a 7-iron for approach shots
- A wedge for short shots around the green
- A hybrid club can also substitute other irons initially
Golf Balls and Tees
- Buy a pack of basic golf balls to practice with
- Tees are required for setting up tee shots
- Golf shirts or polos work well
- Comfortable pants or shorts depending on weather
- Golf shoes with soft spikes or sneakers
- Carry or push cart bag for transporting clubs
- Pockets for balls, tees, gear
- Golf gloves for grip and preventing blisters
- Ball markers for marking ball on green
Shop second-hand stores and online listings for affordable beginner club sets and bags. No need to spend a fortune as you’re getting started.
Choosing the Best Golf Clubs for Beginners
As a beginner, focus on finding clubs that help you get the ball airborne and rolling properly. Some solid starter set options include:
- Callaway Strata, Wilson Profile, or Pinemeadow Driver
- Oversized clubhead assists with hitting tee shots
- Loft around 10-11 degrees for more height
- Callaway Strata, Wilson Profile, or Top Flite iron sets
- Cavity back designs are more forgiving on mishits
- Include 7-iron through pitching wedge
- Wilson Harmonized Wedges or Pinemeadow Wedge
- Higher loft (50-54 degrees) for short game shots
- Added bounce helps lift ball from rough
- Odyssey White Hot Putter or Pinemeadow Piper Putter
- Heel-toe weighted for greater forgiveness
- 34-38” length, face insert for better feel
Don’t break the bank on expensive clubs when getting started. Focus on learning solid techniques before upgrading.
Golf Lingo and Terminology Explained
Golf comes with its own language full of unique terms and phrases. Here are some you’ll likely hear as a new golfer:
- Fairway: Mowed grass area between tee and green
- Rough: Taller grass lining the fairways
- Green: Short grass area with the hole/flagstick
- Tee box: Where you start a hole by placing a ball
Types of Shots
- Drive: First tee shot hit with a driver
- Iron/wedge: Shorter shots into greens
- Chip: Short shot hit with a lofted wedge
- Pitch: Slightly longer shot than chip with a wedge
- Putt: Rolling the ball on the green into the hole
- Par: Expected number of strokes to complete a hole
- Birdie: Completing a hole 1 stroke under par
- Bogey: Completing a hole 1 stroke over par
- Eagle: Completing a hole 2 strokes under par
There’s certainly more you’ll pick up, but this covers the very basics!
More Golf Terms Every Beginner Should Know
Here are some other common golf phrases you’ll likely hear:
- Ace: Hitting a hole-in-one
- Whiff: Missing the ball completely
- Mulligan: Informal do-over shot
- Worm-burner: Hitting shot too low along ground
- Shank: Severe miss hitting ball off hosel
- Duff: Poorly hit shot that doesn’t reach target
- Break: Curve of a putt based on the lie/terrain
- Penalty stroke: Stroke added for rule violation
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the lingo right away. Pick up terms naturally over time spent playing and watching golf.
Golf Rules and Etiquette as a Beginner
Understanding golf’s rules and proper etiquette is crucial. Here are some of the most important for beginners:
- Count every stroke including misses, chunks, etc.
- No “mulligans” or redo shots in golf
- Learn how to properly take penalty drops
- The player farthest from the hole hits first
- Be ready to hit when it’s your turn
Pace of Play
- Keep up with the group in front of you
- Limit practice swings and pre-shot routines
- Help others look for lost balls quickly
- Yell “fore!” if your shot may hit someone
- Don’t hit until player ahead is safely out of range
- Remain quiet when others are hitting
- Avoid standing in sight lines of a player’s shot
Mind your etiquette and play by the rules – you’ll avoid penalties while earning respect from fellow golfers.
Golf Course Warning Signs and Marker Guide
Here are some common course signs/markers to understand:
- White stakes – Out-of-bounds area
- Red stakes – Lateral water hazard
- Yellow stakes – Water hazard
- Blue stakes – Ground under repair
- Green circles – Sprinkler heads
- Red lines – Penalty areas
- 150 yard markers – Approximate to center of green
- 100 yard markers – Short approach to green
- 50 yard markers – Upcoming end of fairway
Pay attention to signage and avoid areas marked for penalty. Ask others if you are unsure.
The full swing with the driver and irons may seem intimidating, but follow these basics:
- Place lead hand lower down on the club
- Trail hand grips above lead hand
- Thumbs point down the middle of the back of club
- Hold club mostly in fingers vs palms
Stance and Posture
- Feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly flexed
- Bend at hips to tilt upper body forward
- Keep head/eyes over the ball – don’t sway
- Square clubface to target at the address
- Align feet, hips parallel left of the target
- Check alignment with an intermediate target
- Keep arms connected and rotate shoulders
- Don’t sway off the ball or lift the front heel
- Hinge wrists fully at the top of the backswing
- Start transition by firing hips and dropping trail elbow
- Swing down and through the ball smoothly
- Release the club and extend arms after impact
- Fully finish swing toward the target
- Balance evenly on both feet
- Avoid decelerating through impact
Use alignment sticks or rope for practice swings grooving key positions. The driving range is perfect for honing your full swing.
Here are some great practice drills for beginners:
- Half swings controlling clubface and body motions
- Exaggerated shoulder turn to create width in the backswing
- Hit shots with feet together to improve balance and stability
- Swing in front of a mirror to monitor position and motions
- Swing with club across the chest to rehearse dropping into the slot on the downswing
- Stack golf balls to learn shallowing swing before hitting one off the tee
- Swing with a towel under both arms to prevent disconnects
Start slowly and master proper mechanics before trying to swing full speed. Grooving the motions outweighs raw power early on.
Mastering the Short Game – Chipping and Putting
Scoring well requires getting up and down around the greens. Here are some beginner chipping and putting basics:
- Use a lofted wedge to lift the ball quickly
- Play the ball off your front foot with weight forward
- Keep wrists firm and don’t break down
- Swing the club like a putter and brush the grass
- Get a comfortable bend from your hips and knees
- Keep your eyes over the ball and align square to target
- Grip end of the putter lightly like holding a bird
- Roll the ball to get it started on your target line
Short Game Practice Drills
- Toss a ball in the air and hit chips catching it on the fly
- Roll putts into a cup or between markers to control distance
Practice from and around the greens to develop your touch. Master these fundamentals for lower scores.
Must-Have Training Aids for Golf Beginners
Here are some great practice aids for beginners working on fundamentals:
- SKLZ Gold Flex Trainer – builds swing tempo and flexibility
- Orange Whip Trainer – improves swing plane, lag, and balance
- Impact Bag – for grooving straight, solid ball striking
- PuttOut Pressure Putt Trainer – improves aim and stroke
- Putting Mirror – monitors setup consistency
- Eyeline Golf Alignment Sticks – verifies alignments
- Impact Tape – shows location of clubface contact on ball
- Golf Impact Labels – instant feedback on strike quality
- Foam Practice Balls – allows full swing without damage
Investing in a few aids speeds up skill development in key areas versus trial and error.
Common Golf Mistakes to Avoid as a Beginner
While mistakes will happen, be aware of these common beginner pitfalls:
- Gripping the club too tightly – causes tension and sliced shots
- Taking too many practice swings – takes extra time, messes with the rhythm
- Rushing putts – better to take your time aiming
- Poor posture – stay balanced don’t dip your head or sway
- Ignoring grip type – get one suited for your hand size
- Not keeping score properly – record every stroke to track progress
- Frustrated reactions – Have patience, golf takes time to learn
- Trying to crush the ball – focus on good contact before distance
We’ve all been there too! Identify your weak points and work at improving them each round.
How to Break Bad Golf Habits
Once a flaw in your swing or game sneaks in, it can be challenging to fix. Here are some tips:
- Ask a pro to diagnose flaws early before they become ingrained
- Film your swing to compare it against proper mechanics
- Feel exaggerated motions slowly to get back on the plane
- Eliminate swing thoughts that contribute to mistakes
- Use training aids like impact tape to reinforce proper technique
- Focus on one fix at a time without overload
- Be patient – breaking habits takes lots of reps
Don’t get discouraged if you hit setbacks correcting swing flaws or mental mistakes. Stick with the process.
Getting Started With Golf- how to play it
While not mandatory, taking golf lessons can greatly accelerate your learning as a beginner.
Benefits of Lessons
- A PGA pro watches your swing and provides instant feedback
- Learn proper technique from the start instead of ingraining bad habits
- Faster improvement in ball striking, shots, and scoring
- Customized drills tailored to your skill level and body type
What to Expect
- Review of grip, setup, alignment and posture
- Fundamental swing positions and motions
- Personalized swing tips to correct any faults
- Applying lesson takeaways at the driving range
Search for highly reviewed local instructors. Take a few lessons to begin building a strong foundation.
Questions to Ask at Your First Golf Lesson
Come prepared to your first lesson with questions like:
- What are the most important fundamentals to focus on first?
- What swing faults do you see that I should address?
- Which training aids do you recommend for my skill level?
- How often should I take lessons as a beginner?
- What should I practice most between lessons?
- How can I tell if I’m making progress week-to-week?
- What part of my game should I prioritize first?
Asking targeted questions ensures you get the most out of instruction time and leave with a practice plan.
Next Steps After Your First Few Golf Rounds
As you complete those first few golf rounds, don’t get discouraged if it feels awkward. Stick with it and continue working on:
- Grooving your pre-shot routine and golf setup
- Building more consistent ball striking
- Learning to control distance with each club
- Improving alignment and aim through practice
- Shoring up weaknesses whether driving, approach shots, chipping or putting
- Playing more rounds and recording scores honestly
Golf is a game of a lifetime. With proper instruction and practice, you’ll start seeing rapid improvement in no time. Enjoy the journey!
How to Find Other Beginner Golfers to Play With
Starting out, it helps to golf with others around your ability level. Places to meet fellow beginners:
- Golf lessons – bond with classmates
- Driving ranges – talk to others practicing nearby
- Golf forums – introduce yourself as a new golfer
- Local golf clubs – join beginner golf leagues and events
- Golf apps – connect to meet up for casual rounds
- Work colleagues – ask around if any play recreationally
Having comrades along the journey makes learning more fun while building new friendships.
Hopefully, this guide has removed some mystery about getting started with this fun, challenging game. What aspect of learning golf are you most excited about? Let us know!