10 Things Every Beginner Needs To Know
We are going to expand on last week’s infographic that listed the Top 10 things that beginners need to know. In the following article we will go into greater detail with what a new golfer should know and do
1. SHOES. Feet and therefore footwork are an integral part of the golf swing so you should invest in comfortable golf shoes. Technology with golf shoes has made a significant improvement for the better in the last 10 years. Gone are the days when a new pair of stiff and uncomfortable golf shoes needed to be “broken in” (code for dealing with blisters for the first few times you wore them). All the major athletic footwear companies make golf shoes, Footjoy, Adidas, Nike and Puma head the list of worldwide brands but shoe companies like Ecco make an outstanding shoe that can be worn on and off the course.
2. PROTECTION FROM THE SUN. You are playing a sport in which you will be subject to the elements of Mother Nature. Knowing what we know now about the effects of the sun, it is vital that you make sure that all exposed skin is lathered in sunscreen. We recommend a lotion that is both at least an SPF of 30 and also waterproof. It is important to remember that even on cloudy days you are at the mercy of UV rays so always cover up. Wearing a hat or cap or visor is also a great idea and can be a fashion accent as well! Which is a good lead into……
3. WHAT TO WEAR. Golf and fashion were never words that could have been said in the same sentence (think of the outrageous outfits from the movie Caddy Shack). Mercifully golf wear has come a long way in the last 15 years and there are several sports brands that make not only cool clothing but clothing that keeps you cool! In addition to which the “stuffiness” that once went with golf attire has been largely relaxed over the years and it is acceptable now for instance, for a lady to wear a shirt that has no collar.
4. EQUIPMENT. Outfitting oneself with a complete set of irons, hybrids and metal woods can be a very expensive proposition when embarking on your golf journey. We recommend that you borrow or rent clubs; most driving ranges and golf courses will have loaner clubs that you can use when first getting started. Once you decide that you love the game, that is the time that you invest in getting the right equipment for you (we cover this in more detail in item #9).
5. LEARNING. The first few times that you swing a club will be the most important swings that you ever make. The importance of having a good foundation for your swing is just as essential as the foundation for a sturdy home. There are 4 fundamental aspects that make up that foundation: Grip (how you hold the golf club), Stance (how far your feet are apart and the relationship of the arms to the body), Posture (how you position your body and the angles that you create), Alignment (how you aim your body towards a target). It is much harder to change a bad habit rather than creating a good one to begin with so we strongly suggest you take lessons immediately when taking up the game. The two recognized bodies of professional golf instructors are the PGA of America and the LPGA and we urge you to only take lessons from accredited professionals with these two associations. If time allows you to (and we admit to a bias here) the optimum way to improve is to come to one of our golf schools. Our format (1:1 or 2:1) allows us to go over each facet of the game with you at your speed: building a “model” with you that will last a lifetime. It accelerates the learning process because it keeps the instruction continuous. In addition to which, your daily playing lesson allows you to get comfortable where it really matters: on the golf course. Your professional will go over rules, etiquette, strategy and course management with you, so that you are able to start playing the game, much more quickly.
6. STARTING OUT. After having taken some lessons at a facility now is the time to start to play the game! Beginners often tell us that this is the most intimidating part of taking the game up so we feel that it is a good idea to ease yourself into it. Instead of playing 18 holes on a Saturday morning (typically the busiest time at a course) on a tough, Championship course, start out by playing 9 holes in the middle of a weekday afternoon (when there are far less people around) so that you don’t feel pressured or rushed. Playing on shorter courses, like 9-hole facilities or Executive courses (shorter versions of 18 hole courses) are a great way to get comfortable.
7. RULES & ETIQUETTE. Golf is a unique game on many fronts but one of the things that distinguishes the sport from any other, is that you are your own adjudicator. While the official Rules of Golf can be an intimidating book to read most of the Rules are easy to understand. An easy to understand synopsis can be found here http://usga-rules.com/ . Etiquette is largely common sense and asks that you don’t speak when other players are hitting, that you play according to the Rules and with courtesy to your fellow golfers. Having a golf “mentor” when starting out is the perfect way to learn the subtleties of playing the game so we encourage you to start out playing with a friend or colleague who can help you with that process.
8. JOINING A CLUB OR LEAGUE. Gone are the days when most golfers were or had to be members of a country club. While there are still a great many private clubs you can join around the world, there are many more resort or public facilities that anybody can access. If you join a Club they will in all likelihood have 9 and 18 hole groups to meet other members and make new friends. Similarly, most public facilities will have Men’s, Ladies and Couples leagues or groups that you will be able participate in. The game offers a wonderful venue to meet new people, network for business or cement life-long friendships. One of the beauties of the game is that it is a universal language so even if you are not fluent in Japanese, if you play with 3 locals at a Japanese course, you will all speak the language of “golf”!
9. CLUB-FITTING. Technology has advance at lightning speed in the last few years and we understand so much more today about equipment than we did before the turn of the century. Each person has a different co-ordination, body type and ability and you should be fitted accordingly so we never recommend that you buy clubs “off the rack”. There are a number of variables which determine what clubs are right for you. Those include your arm length, height, swing speed (how fast you are able to swing a club), set make-up (should you have a set with fewer irons and more hybrids (easier to hit)), body type and ability. Using equipment that is specially designed for you will help you play your best.
10. FUN. The single most important reason that you play this grand pursuit is to enjoy yourself. There are a great many things that we have to deal with in our everyday life that create stress, anger and tension. Going to the golf course is time that you will spend away from those everyday worries. Let it be the great escape that it is meant to be and always remember to “stop and smell the roses!”