Beginners' Guide

Begin the Golf Journey – Beginners’ Guide

As you begin this journey — a trip that you may very well enjoy for the rest of your life — it is important to understand just one thing. Golf is best when taken lightly and keep the game in perspective — have fun — and the game will do the rest.

The very beginning:

Andrew teaching a junior
The playing field in golf is known as the “golf course.” The standard golf course is divided into 18 separate fields of play known as “holes.” You initiate play by hitting your ball with a club from a “teeing ground.” You complete play on each of the 18 holes by playing your ball into the hole in the ground.

The basic short-term objective of the game is to get your ball into the hole in the fewest possible strokes. The basic long-term objective is to complete 18 individual holes in the lowest number of strokes.

Preparing to Play the Game

To play the game you’ll need some clubs and some balls. Clubs come in various shapes, sizes, elements and specifications. They are also available in a wide-range of prices. It’s not necessary to have what is considered a complete standard set of clubs to begin playing the game, nor is it necessary to spend a lot of money to get the beginner basics. Normally, a half set of irons will be sufficient for beginners.

You’ll also need some little wooden pegs called tees, which raise the ball up off the ground at the beginning of each hole, making it much easier to hit.

You might also notice that some golfers wear a single glove. Right-handed players wear the glove on their left hand, and left-handed players wear the glove on their right hand. It helps to improve the player’s hold on the club. If you have particularly sensitive hands, you might consider wearing a glove on each hand until your hands get used to the friction created when you swing the club.

Get Used to the Game Before You Start to Play It

It may seem obvious, but one of the simplest ways to become familiar with the game is to watch it played on television. Watching the game played on television will give you some idea of the basic process involved in working your way around the golf course.

A Few Golf Rules Before Your Golf Game

Golf has many, many Rules–far too many for a beginner to comprehend. The recommendation here is that you concentrate on learning the basics of getting the ball in the hole and hitting the ball in the air, then worry about the Rules. The Rules of Golf apply to both amateurs and professionals. The USGA (United States Golf Association) and the R & A (Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrew’s) are recognized as the two governing bodies of Golf. The Rules will become an important component in your play, but for now know this basic rule:

Normally, you are only allowed to touch the ball twice on a golf course hole: When you tee it up and when you pick your ball out of the cup unless you have to identify the ball.

The rules are simple in concept yet complex in application. This is not outrageous when you consider that golf encompasses the largest playing field of any sport played with a ball and that the game has evolved over 500 years.

The Game: Match Play

Match Play is when you play the game by holes. If you win a hole over your opponent you are 1 up. When you have won more ups than your competitors, you win on the match.

As a beginner, you will probably enjoy match play. Your overall score is not relevant and by a quirk of nature, you may just beat the other top players!

The Game: Stroke Play

Stroke Play
 is sometimes referred to as medal play. The player who finishes the round in the fewest strokes is the winner in stroke play. If you have 94 and your opponent has 97, you are the winner, provided both players have the same stroke handicap. The ball must be played into each and every hole. There are no gimmies (i.e. give putts) in proper stroke play. The general penalty in stroke play for a violation of the rules is two strokes.

When keeping score in stroke play, you keep your opponent’s score and your opponent keeps yours. Be sure the scores are properly recorded at the end of each hole. This will eliminate problems at the end of the round. Be sure to sign and check scores are correct at the end of play.

Player’s Responsibilities

You are allowed no more than fourteen clubs. Except in special circumstances, you must use the same ball for the entire hole. If you have cut your ball during the play of a hole and wish to change it, you must first ask your opponent for permission to do so. During the play of a hole, you may not hit any practice shots. You may practice putting between the play of two holes so long as you are not delaying play.

Order of Play

The player who with the lowest score on the previous hole has “the honour” (the right to play first) on the next hole. Once play of a hole is underway, the player whose ball is farthest from the hole plays first. In match play, if you play out of turn your opponent may ask you to replay in the correct order. This must be stated before any other shot is played by anyone.

When playing from the tee, you must tee your ball between the markers or a little behind them

Playing The Ball

Identifying Your Ball - you may mark and lift your ball in order to identify it anywhere except in a hazard. However, you must tell your opponent or fellow competitor before doing so and you may not clean it except to the extent necessary to identify it.

Striking the Ball - For a stroke to be considered to have been played, the player must have had the intent to strike the ball. Likewise, if you intend to strike the ball and you miss, that IS a stroke. You may not improve the area in which you intend to make a swing.

Playing a Wrong Ball - In match play, if you play a ball that is not yours, you lose the hole. In stroke play, if you play a ball that is not yours, there is a two-stroke penalty. You must then play out the hole with your own ball. If you do not do so, you are disqualified.

The Putting Green & The Flagstick 

Your ball is considered to be on the green if any part of it is touching the green. You may brush away leaves and other loose Impediments that are on your line of putt with your hand. You are not allowed to use a cap or towel to do this. Ball marks or old hole plugs should be repaired.

You may mark your ball on a green by putting a coin or other marker behind it when you want to pick it up to clean or get it out of another player’s way.

If your ball is off the green, there is no penalty if you play and your ball strikes the flagstick, provided no one is holding the flagstick. If your ball is on the green, do not putt with the flagstick in the hole. Either remove the flagstick from the hole or ask another player to hold it and remove it after you have struck your putt. If you putt and your ball hits the flagstick when it is in the hole, in match play you lose the hole. In stroke play, you must add two penalty strokes to your score for the hole.

Hazards & Obstructions

Andrew bunker shot
A hazard is any bunker or water hazard. In a hazard, you may not touch the sand, the ground or the water with your club before or during your backswing.

In a hazard, you may not remove loose impediments which are natural items like as leaves, twigs, stumps, nuts, etc. Obstructions are artificial objects like cigarettes, milk cartons, stones, rakes, etc. Obstructions can be moved.

Water hazards are identified by yellow stakes or lines; and lateral water hazards are identified by red stakes or lines. If you are in either sort of water hazard, you can play the ball. If you don’t want to, or can’t, play from the hazard you must add a penalty stroke and either: Play from where you last played, or drop a ball behind the water hazard going back as far you like but keeping the point you last crossed the margin of the water hazard between you and the hole. As an additional option, if you are in a lateral water hazard, you may also drop a ball within two club lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard.

Obstructions - You are permitted to drop your ball away from artificial obstructions. For instance, if your ball is on a cart path, you are allowed to find the closest point of relief, measure a club length away from it (no nearer the hole) and then drop your ball without penalty.

If your ball hits another ball and moves it, you must play your ball as it lies. The other ball must be replaced.

Ball Lost or Out of Bounds A ball is lost if it is not found within five minutes after you first begin to search for it. If your ball is lost or out of bounds, (OB) you must add one penalty stroke and replay your shot from where you last played.

If you believe your ball may be lost or out of bounds, you are allowed to play a provisional ball from where you originally played. You must declare that it is a provisional ball. This is designed to save time.

Equipment Guide
For new golfers, the selection of clubs and other equipment can be a daunting task. The source of the confusion for most golfers is in the endless options available. Here’s what to look for to find the right equipment for yourself.

The Way To Go…

Technically speaking, investment cast, perimeter weighted clubs are the way to go. They will protect you against your worst swings. Ask any salesperson to direct you to those clubs. Don’t get too technical beyond that. As your game improves and you become more involved, you’ll learn the changes in good time.

Check The Grips

All grips are not equal. While you’re changing, be sure to have the proper size grips put on the clubs. If they’re slippery the club is uncontrollable and uncomfortable. The connection is critical. Be sure it’s a good connection and doesn’t work against you.

Ball. What Kind?

At the beginner’s level, it makes little difference. More important than worrying about the ball or clubs is to learn to enjoy the game, have fun and improve. The rest will then come quite naturally

A Guide to Fashion

Play well and look good too. To be on the safe side, boys or men should wear slacks, collared sport shirts, and a pair of golf shoes. Note: While many (but not all) courses allow men to play in shorts, tennis or running shorts are not acceptable. A longer length short is recommended. Again, it is wise to check beforehand.

What’s Next:
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