Sometimes getting started can be the hardest part about learning anything new. Before you book your first lesson it is a good idea to establish the following so that you can choose the right environment and the most appropriate venue in which to learn:
- Do you want to play golf for social or business reasons, perhaps both?
- Are you looking for basic instruction or would you rather go straight onto the course with your friends and work the rest out later?
- Do you want to learn as part of a group of beginners and meet new people?
- Do you want to get good fast?
Getting lessons from your local PGA professional can often be a great way to learn the basics. The more lessons you get and the more time you put into your practice can often have an impact on how quickly you develop as a player.
Learning in groups is a great way to meet other people who may be starting off like you. To see if there are any group lessons happening in your area visit our activity map. To find a list of PGA professionals in your area click here.
Who do I speak to in the club?
As a new golfer, making the transition from the driving range to the golf course can be difficult but generally clubs offer support by providing mentors or ‘buddies’ to help you get settled.
A player’s initial experiences on the golf course can be daunting but with support and guidance from a current member you can enjoy the challenge, practice your new skills and learn about the course.
Joining a golf club can be unnerving, especially if you have no prior links with the facility. Go along to sessions that the club has arranged for ‘new members’, these are usually fun, social occasions to make new members feel at ease and can link you with a ‘point of contact’ in the club. This person can help you with any queries/issues relating to the fundamentals of golf club membership, such as club rules, etiquette, competition formats and general procedures, and can be a great resource during your first year of membership.
What to wear
When you go along to a taster session or introductory lessons, you simply need to wear comfortable clothing. Thin layers are ideal, they’re easy to move in and you can add to the layers or remove extra, depending on the weather.
Golf is played in all weathers so, once you become a regular, it’s advisable to buy a good waterproof suit. Waterproofs are also very useful to wear in the wind and cold, so they can be used for other activities and not just golf, so a worthy investment!
As you get more involved with golf you’ll find there’s a vast choice of purpose-designed golf wear which offers comfort and style.
Sensible shoes are important and, if you decide to take up golf, you’ll need to buy a pair of golf shoes. Good shoes will breathe, repel water and give you comfort on the long walks, while the spikes will provide traction when you’re making your swing.
If you join a club, you’ll need to ask about their dress code. Some clubs have strict codes while others are more relaxed, but the general rules exclude denim jeans and football shirts, especially while on the course.
When can I play?
When you are starting off, it is recommended that you go to the course during a quite time, prehaps a weekday evening or morning depending on the club you are playing at. This gives you more time on the course to practice your new skills without rushing through the game.
It is a good idea to check with the clubhouse or pro shop in advance of playing. Remember, when you are learning to play, its alot like learning to drive a car. Be ware of other players around you, if someone is right behind you pull in and wave them through!
We have consulted with hundreds of people prior about their perceptions of the game prior to attending a taster session. The majority had strong perceptions not only on what golf was like as a sport but also what the golf environment was like. These things included:
- “It is really boring”
- “It requires a lot of time”
- “It is way too difficult”
- “It is for the elite, we wouldn’t be welcomed”
- “There are so many rules”
- “It is so expensive”
The Get into Golf initiative helps to showcase that these perceptions differ from reality in the majority of Golf Clubs. This is done in the following way:
To showcase that Golf isn’t for the elite the programme recommends:
- Taster Sessions– offering people in wider community a chance to attend a FREEtaster session that delivers engaging and fun activities so that they can try golf out without having to commit to anything.
- Giving general information– by outlining start and finish times, where to meet, what clothing to wear and equipment required on the posters it helped to tackle the anxieties of the “unknown”
- Setting up Group sessions– the entire programme is about learning through a group environment that is safe and fun
- Buddy system– introducing club members as buddies and having social activities in the Clubhouse means there are plenty of opportunities for participants to integrate with members and into the Club. These buddies also help you to learn golf phrases, the basic rules and how to enjoy all the benefits of golf.
For people with time constraints, the programme suggests:
- Regular times– by having lessons and activities the same time and day each week meant participants could make it part of their weekly routine
- Set playing times– playing for a period of time e.g 1.5 hours rather than setting out the number of holes to be played e.g playing 9 holes which for some beginners could take several hours
- Playing shorter courses– allowing participants to play from 100m, 150m, start of the fairway or tee boxes depending on their ability meant they could get around the course a lot quicker and felt like they were achieving something
- Playing 9 hole competitions –for those who were ready to move on to competition and handicap but didn’t have time to play 18 holes
The cost of the eight week programme ranges from £/€40 – €80 depending on the part of the country you are in. This is a great cost effective way to try out the sport and gives participants the opportunity to move into an introductory membership if they want to progress further.
All Golf Clubs running a CGI Get into Golf programme will have:
- Introductory membership– Typically, depending on what part of the country you are doing the programme, introductory membership will range from £/€150-300. In most clubs this membership will have certain restrictions, however it will most certainly meet the majority of your needs and allow you to get a taste for what Golf Club membership is like.
- Club lending scheme– Most Golf Clubs have a lending scheme, which can be used by participants through the duration of the programme.
Frequently asked Questions
Being new to the game, there are some things you need to know to help you become more familiar with the activity and its associated terms. We have put together some answers to frequently asked questions:
What do the different clubs do?
You are allowed to carry as many as 14 clubs in your bag, but starting off you wont need nearly that many. Clubs will vary in numbers and type. A set of clubs is made up of woods, hybrids, irons, wedges and a putter. Below outlines what the different types do and where they are used.
- Woods – A wood can be made of wood or metal, has a large head and is used for shots requiring greater distance, usually from the teeing ground. A set of woods usually starts with the driver and proceeds to the 3 and 5 wood.
- Irons – An iron is a club that can be used to hit from the tee or from the fairway. They are thin with grooved faces of varying lofts.
- Wedge – A wedge is a type of iron. This club has more loft than a 5 iron, therefore will travel a shorter distance but at a greater height. A lofted club is used to play shots around the green.
- Putter – A putter is used on the putting green with a special purpose – to roll the ball along the ground towards the hole; the only club that doesn’t get the ball airborne
What do we do if we think the ball is going to hit someone?
You shout “Fore”.
Shouting “Fore” is a way of saying “watch out!”. It is used when golfers hit shots astray that might possibly come close to another person on the golf course. A couple of things to know about this term: first, don’t wait – the moment you realise a ball has a remote chance of hitting another person, shout it out. That brings up the second point, which is, SHOUT IT OUT – it needs to be heard in the distance, among the noise of other players, the wind, etc.
How do we know when it’s our turn to hit the ball?
Normal Order of Play
- Starting first hole: The honour at the first teeing area is decided by the order of the draw set by the committee or, is there is no draw, by agreements or by using a random method (such as tossing a coin).
- Starting all other holes: The player with the lowest gross score at a hole has the honour at the next teeing area; the player with the second lowest score should play next and so on. If two or more players have the same score at a hole, they should play in the same order as the previous teeing area.
- After all players have started a hole: For all other shots it is usually the person furthest away from the hole that hits first.
“Ready Golf” (Playing out of turn in a safe and responsible way)
Players are both allowed and encouraged to play out of turn in a safe and responsible way such as when:
- Two or more players agree to do so for convenience or to save time,
- A player’s ball comes to rest a very short distance from the hole and he player wishes to hole out, or
- An individual player is ready and able to play before another player whose turn it is to play under the normal order of play
How do we know when to take out the flag on the green and when to hold it?
If you’re the closest to the hole, you’re in charge of either removing the flagstick if everyone says they can see the hole or tending to the flagstick (which means pulling it from the hole as a putt comes closer to the hole) if they can’t clearly see the hole. Players may also opt to leave the flagstick in the hole.
Remember to put the flagstick back in the hole when your group leaves the green.
How far do you need to let the group in front of you go before teeing off?
When the group in front of you is no longer in range to be hit by a shot from everyone in your group, you may tee off.
Obtaining a Handicap Guidelines
- A handicap will only be allotted if you are a member of an affiliated club and after full consideration of any previous playing history.
- The committee will give you instructions on how to obtain your handicap.
- You will have to play at least 3 rounds of 18 holes or 6 rounds of 9 holes. You may be asked to put your name on your card and date. On top of the card you should write ‘Forhandicap’.
- You will be advised that each card must be marked and signed by a responsible person acceptable to the committee.
- You will need a club card, a pencil/pen to mark your score accurately after each hole.
- After each round, you must sign your card and your marker must sign it also.
- You will be advised by the committee on where to put your card when you have finished each round.
- The required number of cards should normally be submitted within a period of six months.
The Rules of Golf are universal but unlike many other sports, are applied by the players themselves. Therefore, every golfer should carry a Rules of Golf book, which is free and available from most golf clubs or state associations. The Rules outlined here are very simple but will assist initially.
PLAYING THE BALL AS IT LIES
The Rules generally do not permit you to improve the position of the ball. You may not bend or break anything growing or fixed except in taking a fair swing. You are not allowed to press anything down but you can remove loose natural impediments such as stones, twigs or fallen leaves without penalty from all penalty areas and bunkers. In penalty areas (bunkers not included) you can ground your club and take practice swings without penalty, just as you can on the fairway or in the rough. In bunkers you cannot touch the sand with your club in the area right in front of or right behind your ball, during your backswing or in taking practice swings.
Most golf courses have Local Rules which are specific to their club. You will find these either on the back of the score card or prominently displayed at the clubhouse.
ON THE GREEN
You can repair damage on the putting green without penalty. Damage on the putting green means any damage caused by a person or outside influence such as ball marks, shoe damage (such as spike marks) and scrapes or indentations caused by equipment or a flagstick. You may remove leaves and other loose impediments on the line of your putt and you may also mark the position of your ball to pick it up and clean it.
TAKING A DROP
There are some instances under the Rules of Golf where you can pick up the ball and relocate it – sometimes with a penalty and sometimes without a penalty. To drop the ball, the player must let go of the ball from a location at knee height. “Knee height” means the height of a player’s knee when in a standing position. But the player does not have to be in a standing position when the ball is dropped.
If you drop it and it accidentally touches yourself, your partner or equipment before it strikes the ground, or it rolls closer to the hole, you must drop the ball again, without penalty.
If you hit your ball into a penalty area, you may play the ball as it lies (you can ground your club and take practice swings without penalty, just as you can on the fairway or in the rough). Or:
- Play another ball at the spot from which the original ball was last played, taking a one stroke penalty; or
- If the penalty area is marked with yellow stakes, drop a ball behind the penalty area keeping the point where your ball last crossed the margin of the hazard in line with the hole and the spot where you drop the ball. There is again a one stroke penalty; or
- If the penalty area is marked with red stakes, you may also drop a ball outside the hazard within two club-lengths (longest club in your bag excluding your putter) of and not nearer the hole than where it last crossed the margin of the hazard, or at a point on the opposite side of the margin. There is again a one stroke penalty
Sometimes a ball may land in a position where it is very difficult or impossible to hit. If you decide you cannot hit your ball you may declare the ball unplayable, except in a penalty area. You may then pick it up and drop it at one of the positions below adding one penalty stroke to your score.
- at the spot from which the original ball was last played; or
- at a point any distance back from the spot where the ball lay in line with the hole; or
- within two club-lengths of where the ball lay but not nearer the hole.
If you declare the ball unplayable in a bunker, you can decide to drop under options 2 or 3 above with a one stroke penalty but you must drop the ball in the bunker, or
For two penalty strokes, the player may take back on the line relief outside the bunker based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball.
LOST BALL AND “PROVISIONAL” BALL
If you think your ball may be lost or out of bounds, you can save time by hitting a second ball from the same spot. This ball is called a “provisional ball” and you must tell your partners of your intention to play a “provisional” before doing so. You are allowed a maximum of three minutes to look for a lost ball. If you find your ball and it is in bounds, you must pick up the provisional and continue to play with the original ball. If your first ball is lost or out of bounds you must continue to play with the provisional ball counting all your strokes, plus one penalty stroke.