Taking up golf for the first time can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but the game is often perceived as complicated and intimidating for beginners.
To start playing golf for the first time, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the basic rules, equipment, and etiquette that come with the sport.
We go over everything you need to know so you are not overwhelmed when heading to the course for the first time.
How do you start playing golf for the first time?
- Pick the right clothes
- Buy (or rent) a set of clubs
- Get some accessories
- Know the rules
- Don’t play during peak hours
- Have fun
What to wear when golfing for the first time
If you are playing a private course or country club, the two biggest “no-nos” are you can’t wear jeans, and you can’t wear a non-collared shirt.
Sounds weird, I know, but that’s just how it is.
Now, if you are playing a public course, you can probably get away with wearing a t-shirt, but just be sure to call ahead and ask them while you are booking your tee time.
Must-have clubs for your first set of golf clubs
As a beginner, you don’t need a full set of 14 clubs right away.
If you don’t have the cash upfront to buy a set of clubs, then it’s perfectly fine to rent clubs at whichever golf course you are playing.
Start with a few essential clubs that will help you learn the game and focus on improving your swing.
Here are some key clubs to consider:
- Driver: This club is used for long-distance tee shots. It has a large head and a long shaft, making it ideal for hitting the ball farther than any other club.
- Putter: The putter is designed for rolling the ball on the green towards the hole. It has a flat face and a low loft and is the most important club in the bag for scoring.
- 7 Iron: This versatile mid-iron is great for beginners to learn various shots. It has a medium loft and can be utilized for a wide range of distances. Also, it’s the best club to practice your golf swing too.
- Sand wedge: The sand wedge is important because it’s basically used from 100 yards and in. Most golfers chip and pitch with this club because, well, it’s the easiest club to chip with.
Other essential golf gear for beginners
Besides the basic set of golf clubs, there are a few other must-have items for beginners:
- Golf balls: Start with a basic set of balls, as you may lose a few while learning to play. As you gain experience, you will learn that the type of golf ball you play does make a difference.
- Golf bag: A bag will help you keep your clubs organized and protected. Choose one with comfortable straps and plenty of pockets for additional gear.
- Golf shoes: A good pair of golf shoes will provide traction and support on the course. Look for shoes with spikes or rubber nubs for added grip.
- Glove: Wearing a glove on your top hand can improve grip and prevent blisters. They usually come in leather or synthetic materials.
- Tees: Tees are used to elevate the ball for tee shots. Beginners should start with the longer 3″ tees if available.
By assembling the right basic equipment, beginners can start their golf journey (addiction) on a strong foundation and focus on developing skills rather than struggling with inappropriate or insufficient gear.
Knowing the rules of golf for beginners
Before stepping onto the golf course for the first time, new players should familiarize themselves with the essential rules of golf.
Understanding scoring, penalties, and basic etiquette will not only enhance a beginner’s experience on the course but also ensure that they are respectful to fellow golfers.
There are about a million rules of golf, but for the sake of this article, I’m just going to go over the most common rules, and then you can learn more and more along your journey.
- Out of Bounds – If your ball leaves the boundaries of the course, you have to take a one-stroke penalty and hit again from the same spot. These boundaries are always marked with either white stakes in the ground or white spray-painted lines.
- Water Hazards – If your ball enters a body of water, you can either take a one-stroke penalty and drop near where it entered or try to hit it from the hazard with no penalty.
- Sand Traps – If you are in a sand trap, you cannot ground your club in the sand before swinging. No penalties, just harder to hit from the sand.
- Putting – On the green, you can’t touch the putting line between your ball and the hole. Wait your turn to putt, and don’t step in someone else’s line.
- Scoring – You must record your correct score on each hole. Be honest and count every stroke.
Best time to play golf for beginners
If you are playing golf for the first time and need to know when the best time to play is, try and shoot for a weekday afternoon.
Depending on what city you live in, trying to play golf for the first time ever on a weekend can be a very bad experience.
This is when most of the general public can play, and you will end up playing with a group (assuming you don’t have your own group) of more experienced golfers.
Plus, weekday green fee rates are cheaper, too, so you will save some money there because golf can be very expensive to play.
You are also more likely to play by yourself and shed a lot of the worry that comes along with playing with other golfers.
Why play golf/benefits for beginners
Longevity: Golf can be played at a very old age. Hell, Jack Nicklaus won The Masters at age 46, playing against the best golfers in the world.
Golf doesn’t take a serious toll on your body in the long run. Given that you can ride in a cart, it really is the perfect sport to play your entire life.
Networking: The amount of people you can meet playing golf is immeasurable. If you wanted, you could meet a new group of golfers every time you play. Great for finding your own group or just being social.
How golf can help you socially and build friendships
Playing golf provides the opportunity to meet new people and build connections.
As a beginner, starting to play golf for the first time, joining a golf club, or taking lessons can help you develop friendships with other players. Golf is a social sport that allows for conversation, sharing of tips and advice, and, most importantly, talking trash to your opponents.
Golf tournaments and events also encourage networking and socializing, which can lead to lasting friendships and business contacts.
Golf’s accessibility and its appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds make it an ideal sport for fostering social connections and broadening one’s social circle.
Where to take your first golf lesson and what to expect
When considering where to take your first golf lesson, there are several options available for beginners.
If you live in a bigger city, you can try attending a golf school. Golf schools provide a structured learning environment and can be a great place to start for those who are new to the sport.
The more common option is to call your local golf course and ask the head golf pro there about signing up for a few lessons.
What to expect from your first golf lesson
It’s also helpful to know what to expect during your first golf lesson. Generally, beginners start by learning the fundamentals of the putting green. Once a solid foundation is established, the lessons progress to chipping and eventually to full swings.
The golf pro giving you lessons won’t give you the magic elixir for the perfect swing for you.
Golf takes time, and it will take several lessons to slowly unlock your mechanics to swing the club to the best of your abilities.
Tips for your very first time on the course
Proper golf course etiquette on the first time playing
- Maintain a good pace of play
- Be ready when it’s your turn
- Don’t take extra shots
Keeping pace of play during your first round
Keeping up the pace of play for a beginner golfer is essential during your first round on the course.
Be ready to take your turn when it’s your time to hit the ball and try to maintain a steady rhythm throughout your round.
Aim not to spend more than 20-30 seconds setting up for each shot.
Remember, before starting a round, get some swings in on the driving range to have a feel of how you are going to hit it that day.
Golf Etiquette 101 as a Beginner
Basic do’s and don’ts of golf etiquette
Golf is a game steeped in tradition and etiquette.
Maybe this is why some are turned off at the idea of taking up golf, but for some reason, that’s just the way it is.
When starting to play golf for the first time, you need to understand the basic do’s and don’ts.
Make sure the coast is clear: Always make sure no one else is hitting in your group. You also want to be sure no other groups are teeing off nearby to where you think your shot would distract them.
The person teeing off always has the right of way.
Don’t be too chatty: Try not to be too chatty with someone else while a person in your group is about to hit. Wait for the person to hit before telling them about how much you like doing CrossFit.
Mark your ball: When you go to mark your ball on the green and think your coin might be in someone else’s line, ask them if it is and, if so, which way you need to move your coin.
If they do need you to move your coin, simply place your putter head down laterally in the direction you are moving your coin and move your coin to that side.
Tips for not slowing down the group
One of the most frustrating aspects of golf for many players is slow play. As a beginner, it’s important to take steps to keep the pace of play moving and avoid causing delays. To ensure you’re not slowing down the course:
- Be prepared: While waiting for your turn, use the time to visualize your shot and select your club. This will help save time once it’s your turn to hit.
- Watch your ball: Pay attention to where your ball lands and note any landmarks or objects to help quickly locate it when you arrive at your shot.
- Assist your fellow players: Help others find their ball if your shot is further than theirs or if they need assistance.
- Be ready to pick up: If you are scoring poorly on a hole, consider picking up your ball and moving on to the next hole. This can help maintain the pace of play. Many groups use the “double max” rule, where if you are about to putt for a triple bogey, it’s good to just pick it up.
How to find other golfers to play with
Looking for golf partners on beginner-friendly sites
One of the best ways to find other beginners to play golf with is by visiting beginner-friendly sites.
Facebook is at the top of the mountain when it comes to finding good equipment, finding players to play with, and being a part of a golf community.
Also, you could simply talk to the guy at the pro shop where you play and tell him you are looking for a group to play with on a regular basis.
Give him your handicap so he knows a comparable group to pair you with.
Reaching out to friends or colleagues new to golf
Another way to find other beginners to play with is by reaching out to friends, family members, or work colleagues who may be interested in or have recently taken up golf.
According to the R&A, 66.6 million people in the world play golf.
So, odds are you will more than likely run into someone who also plays, and boom, there’s your new golf friendship.
Next steps after your first few rounds
Once you have played a few rounds of golf and gained some experience, it’s time to improve your game. In this stage, focus on honing your skills and becoming more confident in the course.
One of the key aspects to focus on is mastering your basic fundamentals. Ensure that your posture, grip, and stance are all correct, as they form the foundation for a good swing.
Take the time to practice and refine these elements, as it will result in a more consistent and effective swing.
Next, prioritize the short game. Work on chipping and putting before practicing your long irons, fairway woods, and driver.
Just pick the easiest club to chip with in your bag and go get those reps in.
Having a strong short game is crucial, as it can save you several strokes during a round and help crush that first-ever goal of breaking 100.