Date Published: 22/12/2023
Few people are naturals at golf right from the first tee. With differing techniques needed for driving, chipping and putting (not to mention knowing how to choose the right club or read a green), golf is a sport that has a slight learning curve.
But it is not insurmountable by any means. In fact, with the right helpful tips and tricks, learning how to play golf can be a highly satisfying experience.
Here are eight expert tips for golf beginners that will have you playing like a pro in no time:
Striking the ball with perfect precision starts long before the club head makes contact, the correct stance is crucial. While it varies slightly depending on a tee shot versus a chip shot, the basics are to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your back straight.
Your golf club grip is equally important. There are three generally accepted main grip styles: interlocking, overlap (also known as the Vardon), and baseball. Find which grip style works best for you. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a little while for your grip to feel comfortable – this is natural!
Most of your strokes on the golf course will be a drive, a chip or a putt. Therefore, practising these shots, especially if you’re just starting out, will rapidly increase the speed at which your game improves.
Use the driving range to warm up your golf muscles with some lower distance clubs, before building up your distance and speed with a driver or a wood. Working on your short game can be done on chipping greens, but you can also practise at home. Set up buckets outside and test your chipping skills, or practice putting on a carpet by aiming to hit a furniture leg or stopping the ball at a specific point.
Some clubs are more forgiving than others. This is particularly true for hybrids or wide-based clubs. The wider the club sole, the bigger the sweet spot, and the easier it is to hit your ball straight. For the same reason, clubs with more loft are helpful. They have a greater degree of angle which gives the ball more air. Look for drivers with more than 10 degrees of loft and woods with more than 17 degrees of loft.
You’re allowed to play with up to fourteen clubs in your golf bag, but you won’t need nearly that many when you’re starting out. What you will need: a driver, a putter, a sand wedge, a pitching wedge, a couple of irons and a fairway wood or hybrid. Those seven clubs are forgiving, easy to use, and cover every shot you will need to play. (This also means you won’t need to pay for a complete set).
It’s good to know how to get out of a bunker before you get into a bunker. The key: you don’t hit the golf ball. You hit the sand behind the ball and this pushes the ball out. Because of this, you need to swing with more force than you would if you were simply hitting the ball. To do it, use your sand wedge, stand with your front foot in line with the ball, and aim for a spot about 5 centimetres behind the ball. With a little practice, you’ll be able to navigate your way out of bunkers with relative ease.
A chip shot stays low and runs along the ground. A pitch has much more height and less roll. For these reasons, both have instances which make them the preferred stroke to play (for example, if there is an obstacle between you and the flag, a pitch will allow you to get up and over without your ball rolling far beyond where it lands). Chip shots are ideal when you have a lot of green between you and the hole, and you want your ball to roll.
Eighteen holes take time, and if you’re still a beginner, this can feel daunting. Playing on smaller courses or only playing 9 holes are both great ways to get real course practice without exhausting yourself. Of course, you can play the full 18 if you’re excited for the challenge, but it’s possible that the back 9 may take extra strokes as your muscles begin to fatigue.
Get the most out of your first round by making sure your body is well looked after. Start by stretching, and opt to walk from hole to hole instead of taking a golf cart. While the cart ride may add a layer of fun (and convenience), walking the course keeps your fitness up – and this directly affects your golf game. And don’t forget to pack plenty of water. It’s easy to become dehydrated while in the sun, and water is essential for your body and mind.
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