You’re here because you want to learn how to play golf. Great news!
Playing golf has given me lots of pleasure, and I’ve also met many people who are now my friends.
The game can be frustrating, annoying to the point you could tear your hair out, if I had any! The pure joy and excitement you get from hitting that perfect drive, or putting in from 30 feet is worth every minute.
This guide will take you through what you need to know as a beginner, before you step out onto the golf course.
Ben Thompson – Editor
In a hurry, no problem! Let me send you my FREE book. Download the book and read it and your convenience.
Before we start, I wanted to let you into a secret. Golf has a language all it’s own. I remember my wife asking, what are you saying? as we walked around the golf course.
It’s worth getting to know some of the words you will hear at the driving range or out on the course. Below is a list of the most popular words and phrases you’ll hear when playing golf. For a full list click here
- All Square – Tied score
- Birdie – A score less than par
- Bogey – Taking one shot more than par
- Cup – Hole on the green
- Divot – Taking a chunk of grass when the club head hits the ground
- Eagle – A score two under par
- Fairway – From the tee to green short-mown part of the course
- Follow through – Continuation of the swing after striking the ball
- Fore – Shouted when the ball is heading towards a person
- Gimme – Players agree to give a short putt without being played
- Handicap – Golfers playing ability in numbers
- Out Of Bounds – An area marked where play is not allowed
- Pro – Golf professional
- Pin – Hole on the putting green
- Rough – Long grass off the fairway
- Tee Time – The time your game starts
Choosing The Right Clubs
Let’s talk golf equipment…
You don’t need to spend a fortune setting yourself up to play golf, nor do you need the latest equipment to have a great round of golf..
I’ve seen to many beginners rush out and by a full set of clubs, bag and every accessory available, only to turn up at the driving range, and drive balls 50 yards. Never to be seen again.
The truth is when starting out as a beginner there is no need to buy a full range of clubs. You really only need 5 clubs to start.
I recommend a 7 & 9 iron, gap wedge, sand wedge and putter.
The gap wedge should be 52-degrees, and the sand wedge should be 56-degrees.
You may want to look for a set of clubs on places like ebay. The problem with used clubs is you don’t know how much action they’ve seen. If you want to take that route, make sure you check the grip, shaft and head. If they are all banged up, it’s best to walk away.
I would recommend you first visit a pro golf shop, and talk to the staff. Don’t feel intimidated by going into a pro shop or local golf store.
These guys know their stuff, and for you it’s vital that you start off with the right clubs. The advantage of new clubs is that you buy the right fit for grip, size and feel.
The first clubs I purchased, were from a friend who’d just brought a brand new set. They were a decent clubs. The problem was he was 6 inches taller and the shafts were too long, and my game suffered.
What is the difference blade versus cavity club?
When your looking at clubs for a beginner, there are two types of clubs, firstly there are blades which are for more advanced players. As a beginner you need to be looking for cavity-backed clubs with perimeter weighting. These clubs are going to make your life easier.
Blade Versus Cavity Backed
As the name implies cavity clubs have hollow backs. This means the weight of the club is at the sole and the perimeter, making them more forgiving when striking the ball, and helps to get the ball off the ground.
Beginner TIP: When choosing an iron check the sole of the clubs with the width of two fingers. Anything thinner than this will make it more difficult to get the ball into the air.
Choosing the right length of shaft
You then need to consider the length of the shaft. Discuss this with the golf pro or use this guide below. Club shafts come with varying degrees of flexibility. Some are quite stiff, where as others are more flexible.
It’s really a matter what you feel comfortable with. As a beginner I would go for something with a little give, to help your swing.
|6ft 9″ – 7ft 0″||Add 2″ to Standard Length|
|6ft 6″ – 6ft 9″||Add 1 1/2″ to Standard Length|
|6ft 3″ – 6ft 9″||Add 1″ to Standard Length|
|6ft 0″ – 6ft 3″||Add 1/2″ to Standard Length|
|5ft 9″ – 6ft 0″||Standard Length|
|5ft 6″ – 5ft 9″||Subtract 1/2″ from Standard Length|
|5ft 3″ – 5ft 6″||Subtract 1″ from Standard Length|
|5ft 0″ – 5ft 3″||Subtract 1 1/2″ from Standard Length|
|4ft 9″ – 5ft 0″||Subtract 2″ from Standard Length|
If you go down the road of buying used clubs, and the clubs are in good condition, the least you should do is consider changing the grips.
In the unlikely event the grips are in new condition you will need to get them re-gripped. Usually after around 30-40 rounds the grips will start to wear, and will need replacing.
Get them re-gripped by professionally. It’s not a job to take on yourself. I’ve tried it and it, and it’s not an easy task.
Round Up: To get started look to buy 5 clubs, a 7 & 9 iron, gap wedge, sand wedge and putter. If you can afford it go for new rather than used clubs. If choosing used clubs, check the grip, shaft and club head for wear and tear. always re-grip older clubs. Get the right length shaft for your height, and you’re good to go.
Did you know PGA Pro Gerry Lester “Bubba” Watson Jr. has never taken a golf lesson! He’s the exception to the rule. Bubba has natural talent, which has seen him win golf tournaments including, The Masters.
I’m not telling you this to make you feel inferior. Most golfers, amateur or pro have taken lessons and are being coached all the time.
As a Beginner, having lessons early on is going to set your golf game up for life. A golf instructor will take you through the fundamentals. How to hold the club correctly, work on your stance, and set the tempo of your swing.
Once you’re comfortable with the instructions your given, the pro will go through what is called pre-shot routine. This is when you visualise the shot you’re going to take.
If you watch any of the pros like Tiger, they will take a step back from the ball and go through pre-shot routine.
Why do golfers do this? It helps get you in the right mind set, and gives you the time to focus on where you want to hit the ball. It’s a good habit to start when you’re a beginner.
Now! I can’t tell you here, what your pre-shot routine should be, because everyone will be different, but I’ll tell you mine to give you an idea.
My Pre-Shot Routine
Once I place the ball on the tee or grass, I’ll take two steps back, and look up to the target. I’ll then look down at the ball and do this 2 or 3 times. I’ll try and visualise the distance, and take into account if there is any wind that may affect the shot.
When I’m happy, I’ll walk back and stand at 90 degrees, and a couple of feet back from the ball. This gives me room to take a couple of practice shots. I’ll be looking at the target while swinging the club. This helps you focus.
I’ll then approach the ball, and get into my stance by planting me feet in place, and placing my club behind (addressing) the ball I’ll then relax my shoulders, and wiggle my hips. You don’t want to feel stiff standing over the ball.
I then bend my knees slightly avoiding over balancing. Once I’m in that position, I’m ready to hit the ball.
Before taking the shot, I’ll look up 2 -3 times at the target, while I’m still in my stance. Then when I’m happy I’ll take back the club and take the shot. Not forgetting to follow through.
Don’t feel rushed to take the shot, this is a routine you should use every time on the driving range or out on the course.
Round Up: Get off to the best start by booking lessons with an instructor. Work on your pre-shot routine, try it at home in your yard or garden, and do it every time you take a shot.
Woods & Irons
Ok! we’ve got our pre-shot routine off to a tee! It’s now time to look at the clubs we’re going to be using. Woods and irons are going to get us to the green, ready to finish off the hole.
Each club is going to get you so far down the fairway so it’s important to know club distances. The table below shows the average distances each club will make, based on short hitter -medium hitter – long hitter.
|Club||Men (yards)||Women (yards)|
You will learn quickly from being on the driving range which distances you can hit with each club. This is useful when you out on the course. If your partner can hit 185 yards with a 4 iron, and you hit 150 yards., this will tell you you probably need to take a 3 iron for the same shot.
You can vary distances with each club by using a half or three-quarter swing. As you get more experienced you’ll get to know which club to use.
I talked a little about stance when going through your pre-shot routine. Getting your body balanced correctly will help you hit the ball sweetly and you’ll avoid injury. Far to many beginner’s get this wrong.
To have the correct posture, bend from the waist, keeping a straight back. Make sure your feet are planted on the ground at shoulder width, this will help your balance as you take your swing.
Remember to stay relaxed..
Where the ball is in relation to your body will affect what type of shot you are taking. For a normal shot the ball needs to slightly forward of centre. If the ball is back from centre your ball will fly low. Too forward of centre, and you’re likely to make a weaker contact and hit over the ball.
If your taking a driver off the tee, it’s best too have the ball level with you front foot heel, you will find that you’re hitting the ball on the upswing, giving you height and distance.
You will learn the best position for the ball by practicing with each club.
I’ve played all types of courses some flat some undulating. You’ll find times when your feet are higher or lower than the ball, so to deal with these situations you will need to adjust your stance.
If your feet are below the ball, you’re (right-hander) more likely to push the ball left. If you’re stance is higher your ball is likely move (fade) to the right.
This is not something you can practice at the driving range, you’ll need to get out on the course or somewhere with uneven ground.
SUCCESS! We’ve got to the green, this is where games are won and lost, and the part of golf where you can practice anywhere. The garden, yard, home or office.
Putting is a technique, think of a pendulum, constantly swinging back and forth. This is about feel and touch, not power.
Let’s get to grips with the grip! There are several putting grips, over the years other styles have been used by top golfers. I use a conventional grip, you can find one that you’re comfortable with.
Your stance should be with your feet inline with your shoulders, and the ball slightly forward of centre.
Important to remember, is to keep your head still, and to focus on the ball. When you’re a beginner it’s tempting to look up too quickly to see if you’ve holed the putt. By doing this you’re likely to miss hit the putt.
Don’t look up from the putt until after the follow through. This will ensure you make good contact with the ball.
Reading a putt is a skill that you will need to practice. No green is the same, and each putt will be different. Most greens will have some ups and downs and the flag can move from one week to the next.
To give you the best chance of success, hit the putting greens and practice…practice…practice…
This is one of my favourite parts of the game. Like putting, it’s all about feel and touch. To give you the best chance of holing out, you want to get that ball up and down as close to the pin as possible.
You need to let the club do the work. There is a tendency for beginners to try and lift the ball with the club face. To overcome this you need to follow through and let the loft (angle) lift the ball.
The tip for chipping is to have strong wrists. Grip the club firm with enough flexibility to move the club through the swing.
Keep your stance tight, and closer to the ball.
What’s In Your Bag?
A question I’m often asked is what should I have in my golf bag. You should cover yourself for any eventuality. You don’t want to be caught in a storm without waterproofs, or find yourself without a club that will get you nearer to the pin.
On the other hand you don’t want to be walking the course with a heavy bag slowing you down. You could be looking a around 30 pounds for a full bag with clubs and accessories.
Unless your super fit, a golf trolley is essential no matter what gear you are going to take with you. You’re going to be walking 4-5 hours around the course. You can hire one from the club, or buy your own. Choose a pull along or motorised if you’re feeling really lazy!
If you find it difficult walking with a bag and trolley. You could consider hiring a golf cart. These are more expensive to hire, but you’ll get round the course easier, and use less energy.
When looking to buy a bag there are some things to consider. Firstly, the weight. Choose a bag that is lightweight, you’re a beginner so you don’t need to carry a full set of clubs. You’ll need one with several pockets to carry tees, balls, waterproof clothing, a water bottle and some nutritional food.
#1: The Warm Up
So now you should feel confident of playing a round of golf! If you have a tee time arranged. DON’T be late, the club and your playing partners are’t not going to be too happy if there are other parties waiting to start.
Arrive 30 minutes before you’re due to tee off. Head over to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls. This will loosen you up, and get you in the frame of mind for your game.
Take care to do some stretching and warm up exercises first
You will always see other golfers warming up, so follow their lead. I would advise take a club and hold it at both and raise it over your head and behind your neck. Lean forward slightly and rotate your hips.
#2: Suitable Clothing
Take the right clothing seriously when turning up at the golf club, or you could find yourself leaving the earlier than you imagined. I don’t know of many clubs where they don’t have rules around the correct attire.
This will consist of a collared shirt and smart casual trousers. In the summer smart shorts are usually acceptable.
If you’re walking around the course for 4+ hours it would be worth purchasing a lightweight shirt, and some waterproofs to keep in your bag if the weather changes.
It’s worth investing in some good quality golf shoes. Conditions around the course can change quickly, and you don’t want to be walking the last 9 holes with wet feet.
If you’re unsure regarding the clubs rules, check their website.
#3: Keep Fed & Hydrated
If after a couple of hours walking the course you start to feel a little hungry or de-hydrated, you’re going to be stuck. You won’t find any vending machines to fill you up.
Be prepared before you arrive at the course. A few nutritional bars, bananas, and a bottle of water, should be enough to get you back to the club house, without fainting.
If you have the time a good protein filled meal, should sustain you. Avoid sugary drinks, salt and fatty food.
Make sure you hydrated with plenty of water before you start, and again on the back 9 holes.
#4: Rules of the game
Golf has more rules than any other sport! and for the beginner it can feel overwhelming, Don’t worry, if you play with a more advanced partner or group, they will help you out with something you don’t understand.
For more information on the rules visit the USGA website
#5: Play Fair
A round of golf can take 4-5 hours. It’s only fair that you don’t play slow. Your golf partners and those playing behind your group will appreciate it. Always be ready to begin your pre-shot routine when when it’s your turn.
Show sportsmanship on the course. Be quiet when your partner is taking their shot, and stay out of their eye line.
In Conclusion: Don’t forget to have fun. Golf is a not just a sport, it’s also an enjoyable pastime you can spend with family, friends, and colleagues. Don’t think you have to learn everything before you set foot on the golf course. Even the best golfers shoot balls into the lake or trees, and miss the fairway.