Learning to play golf can be intimidating. Many people assume that golf is “uptight”. There are rules, etiquette, dress codes. Nobody wants to go out there and look like they don’t know what they’re doing, or do something that’s faux pas in the golf world.
One of the reasons I love golf so much is that it’s a game you can play for a lifetime. Kids can play and you can play as a family, and you can continue playing until well into your golden years. It’s also never too late to start. My Grandmother didn’t start playing until she was in her 50’s and has continued to play until her late 80’s.
I’m writing this post in hopes that it helps even one person feel more confident when stepping onto a golf course early on in their relationship with golf.
I’ll touch on two of the (arguably) most important things to remember in order to make you feel confident on the course. *SPOILER ALERT* – they have nothing to do with how good of a golfer you are.
1.) Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously
If you’re like most people, you’re playing the game for some fun socializing, and *bonus* you’re getting some exercise (which might not even counteract the drinks if you’re having a couple cold ones on the course – but hey, it’s something). Of course, everyone wants to play well, but this game is a rollercoaster ride. Even the pros go through slums where their games are not very good. So, don’t beat yourself up. Keep things light. There is nothing worse than playing golf with someone who is constantly getting upset and frustrated the whole time. You can do it occasionally (we all do) but if you keep it up it will not make you do any better and it will bring the vibe of your whole group down. So, laugh it off and just keep trying.
2.) Pace of Play – Keep Moving
This is the rule that was instilled in me from a very young age. I can still hear my Dad in my ear every time I’m on the course “you’ve gotta keep moving. Get your club ready”. At the golf club we belonged to you would get a warning letter if you didn’t keep up. I’m sure it would have just been devastating for my Dad to receive one of those, so he made sure to drill it in. It’s not meant to make you feel like you have to rush (though it sometimes does), but if you start holding up people who are behind you, then huge backups occur and everyone is behind.
Golf courses set up tee times for each group (maximum 4 golfers). The tee times are set up 7 to 15 minutes apart. Generally, it takes about 2 hours to play 9 holes, or 4 hours to play 18 holes. Golfers really appreciate pace of play because it gets super annoying when you have to constantly be waiting to hit your ball because the group in front of you isn’t moving because they’re chatting too much and not paying attention when it’s time for them to play.
When you start out golfing on an actual course, you may have to set yourself a limit. For example, you’re only going to try and hit it on the green with 8 strokes, and if you can’t make it, you pick your ball up and take it to the green to try and practice your putting, or just move on and try again at the next hole. Don’t ever feel bad about how many shots it takes you, even if you’re golfing with really good golfers, none of them are going to be upset with you as long as you’re not holding them up by moving slowly.
Try to figure out what club you’re going to need as you’re walking up to your ball. Set yourself up as quickly as you can and if you happen to be chatting to one of your partners as you’re heading to your ball, hit your ball first and then finish what you were saying. Once you’ve hit your ball, put the club back in your bag and get moving at a decent pace.
Try to remember these two things, and you’ll be just fine! It may seem scary at first and I still get the jitters when I golf with people I don’t know, but just remember that everyone is out there to have a good time and you should do the same!