Beginner’s Guide to Breaking the Golf Course Barrier

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Beginner’s Guide to Breaking the Golf Course Barrier

As a golf instructor for the past 9 years, I have had the opportunity to share my knowledge of the game with many golfers of varying skill.  One question I get asked often by beginning golfers is, “When should we start to play the golf course?”

This, in my opinion, is the barrier in golf that is quite difficult to tear down.  There are many fears and anxieties that new and even experienced golfers can endure regarding playing on the course.

My goal is to highlight some of those fears and what is a best practice to overcome.20130207162732gop_pic_3

The first thing to keep in mind is….Everyone is a golfer.  By definition a golfer is one who plays golf.  The definition does not say, one who plays golf well……one who plays golf on tour. 

Regardless of age, gender, skill level etc.…everyone is a golfer.  The game of golf is also a journey not a race, it is not a game to be perfected, but played.

Most common reasons why beginner golfers are reluctant to play more often:

  • “I am afraid to keep other golfers waiting”
  • “I’m too embarrassed to play golf with others”
  • “I don’t know all of the rules & etiquette”

Below are some best practices to overcome the fears of playing on the golf course.

  • Start Small. Select a shorter teeing round or start at the 150 yard marker.  This will shorten the course and decrease the length of time it takes to play the hole.  Not to mention, lower scores!  As you become more comfortable, move back a set of tees or two.
  • Pick up your ball after a set number of strokes. Unless you are playing a competitive tournament or game with friends, you can pick up your ball at any time…and It is Ok!
  • Bad shots happen to everyone…even the tour players. Remember that your next shot could also be the best shot you ever hit.  So don’t worry about being embarrassed, everyone has their good and their bad shots from time to time.
  • Play with modified rules. Why not!  If you are just looking to play socially with friends, enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise…there is no reason to stress over the rule book.  Can’t find your ball?  That’s ok, drop one where you think it could be.  Don’t like bunker (sand) shots?  That’s ok, take the ball out and putt or chip instead.  The ultimate goal is to have fun!

Obviously, if you plan on playing competitively you will need to know the rules.  When you feel as though the time is right to take the next step, look into our intermediate or advanced clinics to help learn the rules in more detail.

Please take note of the graphics below that highlight Relaxed Rules and Get Golf Ready’s “It’s Ok Rules”


Experienced golfers role

As a beginner golfer when I was 13 years old, I gained the most knowledge of the game by playing golf with experienced players.  I would watch and observe as well as ask questions in between holes.

I relied on the more experienced golfers to learn the many aspects of the game such as the rules, etiquette, and when/where the different clubs were used.  I also picked up on the “golf lingo” and learned various formats of play.

I like to think of golfers as a community.  Golfers have a common interest in the game and look to help one another  learn and improve.

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” – Arnold Palmer.


Craig McLaughlin
Craig McLaughlin
Director of Golf | The Oaks Golf Links | Twitter: @cmacgolfpro |

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