Don’t want to die an untimely death? Maybe you should learn how to play golf.
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic buuuut not entirely untrue. A 10-year, 5,900 participant Cardiovascular Health Study showed older folks had a “significantly lower rate of death among golfers compared to non-golfers.”
Golf is sometimes viewed as a sport for the elderly or primarily for men (‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden’ anyone?). But golf is a great sport for men and women of all ages, and you’ll learn why in this post.
Plus, you’ll find out how to start playing golf.
Golf Gets Its Glory During COVID
The pandemic didn’t have many upsides, save for the golf industry. The ability to be outdoors, socially distance but still socialize, and get some exercise made golf the perfect antidote to COVID cabin fever.
There were all kinds of records broken in golf in 2020, and they weren’t broken by Tiger Woods.
Here are some fun facts from the National Golf Foundation for 2020:
- A record 3 million new golfers hit a course
- The number of female on-course golfers grew by 450k, making their total hit 6 million
- More than 5 million 18-34-year-olds said they were ready to take up the game; more than 5.9 million already participated on the course
- 17 million people expressed interest in getting on a course to play (a mix of non-golfers and golfers who haven’t played within a year)
What Makes Golf Fun for a Newbie?
Golf can seem pretty intimidating at first. But if your intent isn’t to get on the PGA/LPGA tour but rather just enjoy being outside with friends who are on the same page, the social aspect can’t be beaten.
If it’s a low-key course, golfers might play music and enjoy an adult beverage while making their way through the course. It’s really all about the company you’re with to make it even more fun.
How to Get Started Playing Golf
Before playing an actual game of golf, a lesson is highly recommended. If you have an experienced golfer friend, you might be able to get a freebie pseudo-lesson, but a real lesson is still your best bet.
One beginner lesson will give you enough to grasp the basics of how to grip the club, how to position your body, how to swing, what club to use for what distance, etc.
A lesson will typically be at the driving range, so after your lesson, you can take what you’ve learned and practice by hitting some balls.
You can get beginner lessons at nearly any golf course. If you have a Top Golf in your area, you can also get lessons there. Plus, Top Golf is super fun.
You’ll also need specific gear to golf, but we’ll get into that a little later.
Golf Lesson? Check! Time to Hit the Course
Find a 9-hole par 3 course (typically a shorter course) to ease into the game. Eighteen holes can be a bit much for a beginner and sometimes even for more tenured golfers.
What does par mean? Par means the number of strokes it should take a good golfer to finish a hole (you’ll more than likely double par when you start).
A lower par usually means a shorter distance hole and/or an easier hole to finish. So a par 3 course is less challenging than a course with a lot of par 4’s and 5’s.
A 9-hole par 3 course takes the average golfer about 1.5 hours. It might take you a little longer as a newbie.
Let’s face it, you’ll probably suck the first time you play (and the second, third, fourth time…). But everyone sucks at the beginning.
The best advice is to embrace the suck and just have fun. You might spend more time reenacting a childhood Easter egg hunt trying to find lost balls in bushes, but that’s okay. Just work on getting the ball toward the hole.
You’ll get frustrated. Don’t be afraid to break rules when you do. Pick up the ball and drop it closer to the hole. Take the ball out of the rough (higher grass) and drop it into the fairway (shorter grass down the middle) to make a shot easier.
Remember the earlier mention of bringing good company? This is when it matters most. If the group you’re with knows you’re a beginner, they’ll be more patient. They’ll probably give you some great tips and also cheer you on as you slowly make your way to each hole.
Embrace the suck is the first bit of advice for a newbie. The second is to not keep score at first. Trust me, you won’t want to know it anyway. Again, just have fun honing your skills for now.
What Kind of Gear Do You Need to Play Golf?
First, golf isn’t the cheapest sport. But, you can get started with a relatively inexpensive set of new clubs on Amazon (less than $200) or a used set at a garage sale or on Craigslist ($100+).
If you don’t want to invest in your own set of clubs to start, borrow from friends/family who play. Or you can rent a set from many golf courses.
But improving your game comes with practice, so having your own set of clubs is recommended. If you end up hating the game, you can resell them.
If you like the game, you can sell your starter set and use that money toward better clubs. Or, keep them as a spare set if you want to get other friends into the game (that’s what I did). Once I knew I’d play regularly, I upgraded to lighter, better-fitted clubs. I love these from Cobra. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Golf Accessories For Now
The other necessities you need to golf are balls, tees, and maybe a golf glove, so you don’t chafe your hand and maintain a better grip on the club.
Some balls are pretty pricey, but again, you’re a newbie golfer, so don’t worry about investing in the best balls. You’ll probably lose a ton in the beginning anyway. Any inexpensive balls will do for now. Bright colors might be easier to find when you lose balls in the bushes.
Tees come in a variety of sizes and types. You’ll get a feel for what you like the more you play. Bigger clubs, like a driver, should have a taller tee.
Golf Accessories For Later
Once you decide golf is your jam, you can start adding other accessories to your collection.
Golf shoes will help during your swing. They provide traction your standard sneaker doesn’t, allowing your feet to anchor to the grass either with spikes or spikeless grips.
A golf GPS is another great tool. Knowing how many yards you are from the hole helps you determine what club you should use. You can get handheld or wrist mount/watch-style GPS units. Smartwatches sometimes have golf GPS apps you can download.
If you plan to walk most courses, you can rent a push cart, but you might want to invest in your own instead. The investment will quickly pay off.
If you plan to play mostly smaller courses and want to carry your bag, get yourself a Sunday bag–a lighter-weight golf bag designed to carry about six clubs.
There are plenty of other golf accessories you can geek out on, but these will be your main ones to start. For gear recommendations, visit our Gear section.
Where Can I Meet Other Golfers At My Level?
You’ve learned a little bit about the game. Maybe you’ve even hit the driving range. But perhaps you don’t have a friend to buddy up with, and you’re nervous to go at it alone. If you’re flying solo at golf, you don’t need to worry because there are plenty of options to start playing and meet new golf buddies.
Beginner Golf Clinics
Check your local course for group beginner golf clinics. Everyone will be in the same boat as you, and it’s a great opportunity to exchange contact info and set up a round of golf. Someone in the group is sure to know a more seasoned golfer to round out your golf foursome and can offer tips on the course.
Then there are programs like Get Golf Ready, an introductory golf program taught by PGA professionals at golf courses nationwide. On average, you’ll get a package of 5 lessons for $99, which is a fantastic deal.
Social and Networking Golf Groups
There are a lot of niche golf groups nationwide. Whether you’re looking for a group of new female golfers, a co-ed social group, or an intermediate men’s group, you’re sure to find one. Here are a few examples of where to look:
- Spark Golf is a social co-ed 9-hole golf league for all levels offered at courses nationwide
- Fore the Ladies offers golf clinics specifically for women at different events/locations nationwide
- Meetup.com has a ton of localized golf groups ranging from beginner to networking to golf and happy hour events
Time to Tee Off
So, you’ve learned the golf basics, what gear you need to start playing, options to take lessons, and even join some golf groups. What are you waiting for? Remember, it’s never too late to grow up and play! Leave a comment or some advice below for new golfers.