How To Play Golf: Everything You Need To Learn

If you are new to golf, perhaps you are quite intimidated by how professionals and seasoned players play smoothly, right?

While it is true that it takes practice, you first need to understand the basics. I was in the same position years ago and I wished someone helped me.

You are lucky though, because it has been my mission to help new golfers.  This post will give you an overview of the following:

  • Golf equipment
  • Setting up your swing
  • Hitting your ball
  • Basic rules
  • Proper etiquettes
  • Making your game batter
  • Helpful tips that may help you

I'll cover the best topics any new comer will need. After this, I'm sure you'll be confident in swinging your club and hitting your ball.

Basic Equipment

Getting your equipment is not as easy as choosing the most fashionable design and color. In reality, this is the first and the most crucial step you have to take in learning how to golf. Deciding on your equipment is like deciding on how fast you’ll learn in the best and the most comfortable manner.

golf-basic-equipments

Golf Gloves

Your hands will probably have blisters after several swings if you don’t wear gloves. You need to consider the size and even the materials used. In this sport, protecting your hand from swings should be your priority. Aside from this, golf gloves will help you have a firm grip on your club even when you’re sweating.

Golf Shoes 

I’m not talking about that fancy sneakers which will cost you a lot. There are special shoes made for Golf and this pair will keep your feet steady while you pull off a swing.

Golf Bag 

If you’re just starting to learn, you don't need a complicated golf bag. You just need a bag that can carry 14 clubs, balls, rain gear in case of emergencies, water, and snacks.

Your Own Tees

Tees are wooden or plastic nail that are used to support your Golf balls.

Golf Clubs

There are several types of golf clubs, but if you’re just a beginner, you don’t need 14 clubs in your bag. Start with a putter, a 6-iron, an 8-iron, a sand wedge, a fairway wood or a hybrid with 18-21 degrees of loft, a pitching wedge, and a driver. These are the beginner-friendly clubs that will get you going. You can actually get new and used titanium drivers for as low as $75.

Golf Balls

There are balls available at golf courses, but you can use your own balls, too if you like. Start with inexpensive balls because as someone new to the sport, you might lose it along the way.

Renting wouldn’t hurt that much though, but if you are really into golf and you have the budget, it would be best to invest on your own equipment. You’ll be more comfortable with it, and you’ll hit more accurate shots.

Rangefinder

A rangefinder is a great little device, whether you're brand new to the game of golf or a long-time pro. Rangefinders help you measure distance for your shots and choose the best club. Some rangefinders even measure slope!

You can read our golf rangefinder reviews here.

How to Set Up Your Swing

Swinging might look a little easy on TV, but it’s actually a step-by-step process that you need to follow if you wish to learn how to golf. Here are the steps on how you set up your swing.

how to set up your swing

STEP 1 Bend your knees and slightly bend your hips.

It all starts with proper posture.

Distribute your weight on the centers of your feet. Do not put pressure on your heels and toes. Lean your hips forward and slightly bend your knees, so when you’re to hit the ball, your club will reach the ground.

If you bowl, then you'll be quite familiar with this method.

Also, note that if you’re right-handed, the left side of your body, which is your non-dominant side, should face the hole. If you’re left-handed, do otherwise.

STEP 2 Parallel your club to the ground.

Raise your club from your club head, hands, arms, shoulders, hips. And make sure that your dominant arm is headed to your side. While doing  this, your dominant-side leg should get your weight. The head of the club should face toward the sky.

STEP 3 Lift the club up to 90 degrees.  

The club should now be brought to a 90-degree angle, straight up. Your arms should be parallel to the ground. You should continue feeling the weight on your dominant side, especially on your dominant hip. Your shoulders are supposed to be rotating upward.

STEP 4 Get ready to hit. 

Stretch your arm muscles and move the club over your head. It should be almost 180 degrees. Imagine that you’re a clock, and think that you’re in a one o’clock position. It’s supposed to be that high.

By this point, your shoulders, dominant hip and dominant ankle should feel ready to tee off!

You can read my full guide: how to swing a golf club and Golf Swing Follow Through Technique

Just Hit It! Tips of How to Tee Off

1. Your weight should now shift a little toward the direction where you’re swinging the ball. 

Keep your body on the center, while your belt buckle is pointed on the target. Avoid getting the weight of the club from the top by keeping your wrists hinged.

2. Start making contact with the ball.  

While you’re making contact with the ball, your head has to be behind the ball. Turn your hips and help your body straighten up on the side where you’re aiming to hit. At this point, your dominant side should mostly take your weight.

3. You can now follow through. 

By this time, you should extend both of your arms and make contact to the ball. Be mindful to not stop your swing. Your ball is now ready to take off. You’d know you had a proper follow through when your clubhead is pointing to the sky.

Note for Swinging Your Club and Hitting The Ball

These are just written tips on how you can pull off your swings, and sometimes, it’s not that easy to understand plain words. To be able to do these, you really have to make time, go to a golf course and take a swing.

Basic Golf Rules

Playing golf is fun and you can confirm it with other golf players.  However, it’s not just about swinging your club and aiming for the hole. Like in any other sport, you have to know the basic rules first:

know the basic golf rules

RULE 1 Know your aim!

The objective of the game is to get the ball from the starting point, to the green and into the hole marked by a flag. You want your ball in that hole the fewest tries possible.

The standard Golf course consists of 18 holes that are marked by flags. There are courses that have 9 holes, too. If you’re a beginner, we highly recommend that you play in 9-hole courses first. You have to initially be familiarized with the rules and with the course itself.

RULE 2 Know where to hit!

Every golf course is structured differently. You have to know the hole you will start and end with. We play the course by the order of the holes. Every hole has a tee off area, or the area where you are allowed to hit the ball.

It is important to find a course map while playing because you’re gonna need it, especially when you’re not familiar with the course.

RULE 3 Know when to hit!

Avoid confusion by knowing when you should hit the ball. Every player gets to hit the ball. The person farthest from the hole hits first, then the next one, then the next, until everybody has his or her turn.

If you want to play another round, the person with the best score from the previous games gets to tee off first, the next best score comes next, and the worst goes last.

RULE 4 Touch move!

Do not move the golf ball on the course before you tee off. It’s against the rules, so I’m sorry. You have to hit it where it stopped rolling.

This is applicable unless there is a man-made obstruction blocking the way. If you are not sure which is considered as an obstruction, it wouldn’t hurt to ask more experienced players or your coach.

If your ball hits somewhere out of the course, or maybe the water, you will get a chance to get your ball, place it back where you shot it the first time and hit your ball again.

RULE 5 Don’t lose count!

There are an ideal number of strokes to hit the ball into the hole.  This is called “Par.” When it comes to scoring, each hit counts as “1.” In this game, the Pars’ range would be 3-5. Each hole will be named as “Par 3,” “Par 4,” or “Par 5.”

Your score has a nickname on the number of times you hit the hole. For example, when you hit the hole 2 under par, or a 5-par hole after 3 shots, it’s called an “Eagle.” One under par is a “Birdie” and shooting with the ideal par is just called “Par.”

Other nicknames:

  • 1 over par - Bogey
  • 2 over par- Double Bogey
  • 3 over par- Triple Bogey
  • 4 over par- Quadruple Bogey

And so on...

Make sure you know your handicap so you can adjust your par.

RULE 6 Be the least!

In golf, if you want to be the greatest, you have to be the least. The person with the lowest score wins! You can track your performance by checking how many Eagle, Birdie and Par you get. If you have many, then you’re probably doing well.

Proper Etiquette While Playing Golf

Whether you consider golf as a leisure activity or a sport, more so than knowing how to treat your equipment right, it’s important that you know how to treat other players right. Listed below are the proper ways on handling situations inside Golf courses.

proper etiquette while playing golf

You are not alone, so team up and cooperate.

Being in a team means you have to cooperate. You have to WAIT for your turn. Everybody gets to hit the ball.

You also have to be vigilant while playing. Keep up with your team and know when to hit the ball.

Do not stare at your ball for a long time before playing. Always be alert and ready to aim your shot and get to your target.

Know when to close your mouth.

Golf is a fun sport because you can talk with the people with your group. However, it is unethical to talk with the person who is about to tee off. It is most probably going to distract him or her in aiming for his or her perfect shot.

“Fore! Fore!”

"Fore" is golf jargon used to inform somebody that he or she could be hit by the ball. As a beginner, you have to take note of this, because you’re probably going to need to use this word on your first days or weeks in the course.

Do not wait until the ball is a few inches away from the person. If you feel like he or she could be hit by your failed swing, even when you’re not sure, shout as loud as you can.

After all, prevention is better than cure. When hit, these flying balls are small, but terrible, and they can injure people big time!

Give people the right of way.

Respect other people’s tee off by moving out of their ball’s way. Aside from blocking their target, you’re distracting them from their strategy. It’s best to move several yards away from them, so that they can focus on their target.

Even when he or she is a long lost friend, resist the temptation and save the catching up during breaktime.

Golf’s implied definition of gentlemen.

On a large golf course, I’m sure you and your teammates are not the only golf players there. Be vigilant because some balls from other players may accidentally and occasionally travel on your hole.

In this sport, it’s not proper to get the ball for the person, even when you’re a gentleman. You let them do it themselves.

You have 5 minutes to look for the ball.

There will be moments when you will fail to get the ball to the hole. And some days, you will have the ball fly far far away. Sometimes, you won't have enough balls, and you have to search for a lost ball. You can do it, but you should do it for only 5 minutes to respect the other players.

Don’t pick up balls on the course.

I know that you probably just want to help, but trust me when I say that you’re going to help them more when you just let the balls keep rolling on the course. You could be anyone’s distraction to their perfect shot.

How Do You Improve Your Game

Although you’re just beginning to learn how to golf, it would be so much better if you strive hard to be the better version of yourself in this sport. If you’re really interested, these are some resources on how you can improve your game.

  • Read Golf books and Golf blogs.

Reading might take up a lot of your time, but this is deemed very effective as well. It’s true that people learn best by doing, but you also have to read books to learn more theories and to unlearn myths, in order to be ready in action. However, you have to learn how to filter and compare.

  • Watch YouTube videos.

I love the internet because everything’s here already. And for me, watching videos is one of the best ways to make your game better. This is most especially recommended when you’re a visual learner.

You can checkout our new YouTube channel.

  • Take some lessons.

Find an effective instructor because he or she will help you improve faster. You really need to spend time with golf teachers to know if what you’re doing is correct. You need them to verify and correct you.

Helpful Tips for Beginners Learning Golf

helpful tips for beginners to learn golfing

1. Before anything else, make sure that you have made up your mind. Playing golf is not easy because you use your mind and body at the same time. You need to have a ready mind, body and heart.

2. When you are buying equipment, especially golf clubs, do not just pick what you like. I have given you recommendations, but it’s better if you try them. Try a few swings before buying. That will help you to find your match. Also, take advantage of hybrids. They are made for beginners.

3. You also have to be wise in buying your equipment, so that no money is wasted. Whether you bought something expensive or not, you have to make sure that the equipment is suited for you.

4. Invest not only in your equipment and attire, but also on having a coach. Hiring professionals to teach you how to golf will not only help you swing better, but it will also help you have the right kind of attitude while playing.

5. A practice range would be the best place to start practicing how to golf.

6. Understanding the rules of golf by heart happens not only by reading instructions thoroughly,  by actually playing the game. They work hand in hand.

7. If you want to learn more golf skills, It’s best if you play with those who have been playing golf for a long time.

8. Read and know proper etiquette by heart. You’re going to need this unless you want to embarrass yourself.

9. Choose a flat and short course.

10. I know that you’re excited to see how far you can hit, but you have to be calm, and give yourself a chance to first be familiarized with your club and your body balance. You might lose your balance. Start first by hitting short distances with half swings.

11. Do not take your short shots for granted, too! They promote control.

12. You use your mind in golf, but do not box yourself in the rules. Use your athletic instinct too and go for the hole!

13. For starters, try to learn by playing at a Par 3 course.

14. Edward Thorndike states in the law of use and disuse that when a person does something repetitively, he or she would probably get it through practice. And if the person stops doing it, he or she would probably forget about it. This applies in sports as well. Practice and be well.

15. It’s best to have friends with you while learning how to golf. It adds to your motivation.

16. There will be moments when you will feel frustrated for not getting it right, but when that happens, go back to the basics. There’s no harm in trying again. Be patient.

17. Do not compare your progress with others’. Some people will always be better than you, and you will always be better than some people. Focus on your own personal growth.

18. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Sometimes, you need to just take a deep breathe. 

19. Stay positive! Remember your best shots and put the worst in the garbage. You don’t need to be perfect. You need to be driven.

20. Lastly, Have fun! golf is a challenging game, but unless you’re in a competition, make sure that you live in the moment, swing for that moment, hit the hole and get all the fun you can get.

Golf might look easy, but it has a number of complexities. It’s nerve-wracking, mind boggling and frustrating. But when you come to think of it, it’s also satisfying, motivating, rewarding and exciting.

Do not expect so much from yourself during the first few games. Be patient with your progress, and just enjoy the process while learning from your mistakes Do not be discouraged because it’s all going to be worth it!

After all, you are learning how to golf - the greatest game mankind has ever invented.

About the Author Bill

Hi! I'm Bill and for me golf is the greatest game there is. It’s probably the only game that a player’s biggest challenge is himself. It reflects this struggle this called life, the struggle to bring out the best within each and every one of us, a beautiful process that can only happen when facing seemingly insurmountable adversities which, in the game, is represented by the unevenly sloped trap-filled golf course.

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