So you’ve decided to take up golf as a hobby. Great choice! Golfing is a wonderful way to escape the day-to-day grind while getting outside into nature and socializing/networking with friends or colleagues.
As a beginner, you’re probably hungry for knowledge on the game and ways to improve your performance as you’re getting started. In this article we’ll cover 15 things golf beginners need to know as you begin to hit the links. Let’s dive in!
A Brief History of the Sport
If you’d really like to dive into the history of golf, this is an interesting resource. We won’t get into all the details here, but we will cover the basics.
The sport can be traced to ancient China, almost a millennia ago. However, what we recognize today as the modern 18-hole version of golf was started in the 1400’s in Scotland.
It was first mentioned in recorded history when it was banned by Scottish Parliament in 1457. As harmless of a sport as it might seem, it turns out that Scottish military personnel preferred a round of golf over practicing sword fighting. As such, Parliament banned it, as it was distracting to military training.
The word “golf” was the ancient word for “club,” so the sport was basically called “club.” It’s interesting to point out to your golf buddies that the term “golf club” really means “club club.”
It is important that every Beginner’s Guide to Golf dispel the legendary myth right away: golf does not stand for “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden”. Golf was the ancient word for “club”, so the game was essentially just called “club”. The term “golf club” literally means “club club”.
Important Golf Terms to Remember
Before we go any further, let’s cover the golf terms you need to know in order to understand and enjoy the game.
- Tee – the plastic or wooden peg you place the ball on when “teeing off,” which is how each hole is started
- Fairway – the manicured strip of grass between where you tee off and the putting green
- Putting green – the heavily manicured grass surrounding each hole
- Rough – long, unmanicured grass outside the boundaries of the fairway or green
- Hazards – any external golf course feature that attempts to make it more difficult for you to reach the hole, including: trees, ponds, bunkers or streams
- Stroke – each time you swing and strike the ball, it’s known as a stroke, which is how golf is scored
Scoring is done as follows:
- Ace – a hole in one
- Par – the number of strokes each hole states that it should take to go from tee-off to hole
- Eagle – reaching the hole two strokes less than par
- Birdie – reaching the hole one stroke less than par
- Bogie – reaching the hole one stroke more than par
- Double bogey – reaching the hole 2 strokes more than par
Golf Gear and Clubs For Beginners
As a beginner, keep in mind that you might eventually decide that golf isn’t for you. Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid starting off with high-priced, top-of-the-line clubs and equipment.
Instead, start off by renting clubs or asking a friend if you can borrow an old set of theirs for awhile. This will allow you to get a feel for the game without investing hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars up-front.
Also consider buying a used set of clubs at a discounted rate from Craigslist or eBay. Don’t feel like you need to buy an entire set either. Start out by buying a:
- 5 wood
- Two or three irons
- Sand wedge
That’ll be plenty to get you started.
When it comes to golf carts, wait until you’re settled in a bit as a golfer before considering buying your own cart, which will save you considerable money long-term over golf cart rentals. Just make sure to shop around for cheap but long-lasting golf cart batteries when the time comes.
Basic Golf Etiquette
Following accepted etiquette practices in golf is important. Here are the basics to keep in mind:
- Avoid talking when an opponent is about to hit the ball
- Avoid walking through an opponents line-of-sight to the hole
- Let the group ahead of you clear the green before hitting
- Avoid getting angry if your shot doesn’t go as planned
- Have fun!
Additional Tips for Golf Beginners
- Golf takes a lifetime to master – don’t pressure yourself!
- Avoid playing from the most difficult tee boxes until you’re ready
- Consider getting lessons from a golf pro if you’d like to improve your game
- Track your stats so you can monitor improvement
Get Ready to Hit the Links
Golf has been a wildly popular game for hundreds of years for good reason — it challenging, rewarding, and fun! By learning these basics of golf, you’ll be ready to start enjoying a lifetime of your new favorite hobby.
What additional tips do you have for new golfers? Let us know in the comments below.