Golf has a reputation for being something of an elite sport, played by aging men in eclectic colours. While that is still the case in some places, golf is certainly becoming more accessible and increasingly popular. Starting golf can be intimidating, with the presence of more experienced players always lingering in the back of your mind. These tips can help boost your confidence and playing style in no time.
People can be stubborn and refuse to accept help or instruction, preferring to try and make it their own way, the simple advice is don’t. Teaching yourself, even with a good instructional book, can lead you to get into bad (and sometimes irreversible) habits. A good golf pro may well have to take you back to the basics, but in the long-term, there will be lasting benefits to your game.
Don’t neglect your putting
Many people become obsessive about practicing at the driving range, constantly hitting hundreds of long range shots. While this can help, provided that you are using the correct technique; many golfers (both experienced and beginners) neglect their putting. Putts account for about 50 per cent of your strokes in a round, yet far less than 50 per cent of golfers’ time is spent practicing putting.
Work on your grip
Since the hands are the only part of the body that come in contact with the club, it is vital to get the grip right. Take instruction from an expert regarding the grip. There are three main grips: the interlocking, the Vardon and the baseball — decide with your coach which is best for you. A proper grip can take months to learn, so it is best to get used to it, even without hitting balls. For practice, try gripping a club while watching television.
Visit a driving range
Not only will a driving range give you a chance to hit a few balls without having to worry about finding them again, they are a great place to get advice and instruction. Initially a professional might give you a few quick pointers (sometimes in the hope that you will take up lessons with him or buy equipment from the shop), but take advantage of the range of different clubs that are often available for you to try out for free. At the very least, smashing a few balls is an excellent way of letting go of stress, you will come away feeling great, whether or not you were actually any good.
Use cavity-back clubs instead of traditional bladed clubs
Cavity-back or peripheral-weighted clubs usually have an oversized head and a greater ‘sweet spot’, so the area where you contact the ball and still get a reasonable result, is bigger. This helps minimize the impact of what would be a disastrous shot with a traditional club. Cavity-back clubs are ideal for beginners, yet are actually still used by some professionals, so you need not feel like a total novice when using them. Younger players might want to consider buying a beginners’ set or a half set of clubs.
Don’t neglect brushing up on your etiquette
Knowing your golfing etiquette is a must. Without it, you may end up in all sorts of bother, not even realizing what you have done wrong. Wheeling your trolley across the green could result in a good talking to from the greenkeeper, while slow play could lead to confrontation with other players. If you go with someone who has a bit more experience, then listen to them — they are not just being fussy and might just save you from making an idiot of yourself.
Buy second hand balls
If your play is shocking to begin with, you might be losing balls at a rate that your pocket cannot afford. Some retailers sell balls which have been fished out of the ponds from the course, at a fraction of the price. An ever cheaper option may be to buy them from the people who have used their initiative to collect them to make some money. Just be careful they don’t end up stealing your balls and then try selling them back to you!
Go prepared for a round
A round of golf could take up to four hours, depending on how busy it is, so make sure you have everything you could possibly need. This would include things like waterproof clothing, an umbrella, drink, snack, pen for marking your scorecard and most importantly plenty of balls.
Don’t be pressured by other golfers
As long as you are not playing at a particularly slow pace then don’t feel pressured by other golfers. If you want to let them pass by so you can get on with your game without being watched, then fair enough, but there is no reason that they should have a right to expect to just barge past. Everyone was a beginner once and should have a bit of patience, although sadly not all golfers do.
Always have some money for the 19th hole
Part of the golfing experience is the clubhouse or the 19th hole, where players can get together, enjoy a drink, compare their scorecards and show off their latest equipment. It can be a useful place to pick up tips, find out about any second-hand equipment for sale, or even any golfing social events which are being organised.