Do you want to learn how to play golf and enjoy the life-long game?
It’s said that golf is the greatest game ever played…
Maybe because it’s the ultimate test of the body and mind.
It’s calming, challenging, rewarding, and frustrating all at the same time.
It can beat you up, have you cussing the game, just to fall back in love with it an few minutes later.
But at the end of it all, it’s a beautiful game.
As Arnold Palmer once said:
There’s something about the game. When played well it seems simple. So simple, you let your guard down…
and then it strikes back.
For many people it’s an obsession, others an occasional hobby.
No matter what it is to you, it’s an amazing game that you can learn at any point in your life.
It transcends generations, and teaches you more about yourself and life than any other game.
So, you’ve made the decision. You want to play golf. What now?
Read this Ultimate Guide on and learn how to play golf the right way.
Table of Contents
1. Making the Decision to Play Golf
Making the decision to learn how to play golf is easy, but needs to happen with an understanding and respect for the game. While golf is fun and meant to be enjoyed, it can often be frustrating, especially when first learning.
That being said there is one simple thing to remember.
GOLF IS HARD.
Professionals who have played their entire lives still hit bad shots.
So when you’re working on your game, don’t expect perfection. Learn from your mistakes, accept them, and most importantly manage your expectations.
As a golf pro once told me when I was frustrated beginner having a mid-round breakdown:
“You’re not that good, to get that mad.”
Golf is a game that can teach you a lot about someone. One of the major things is how they handle themselves on the course. It’s easy to be happy when you’re playing well, but shows character when you keep your cool when things don’t go your way.
Enjoy the process and stay positive. Life’s too short to get mad over a game 🙂
2. Getting Equipment
You may have heard that golf is an expensive game. While this can be true, it doesn’t have to be.
It’s kind of like when you were told as a kid that there’s a difference between “wants” and “needs”.
You need clubs to play golf. You don’t need expensive brand name irons and the newest driver on the market. While “Chad” at your local golf store may try to tell you that so he can make more commissions, its not true.
A great golfer can play well with any set of clubs.
While at the highest level these things can make an impact, they’re so minimal it would never be noticed by weekend golfer or someone just learning.
So, find a good deal on a set of used clubs that are going to last you for the next 3-5 years and start swinging them!
Here are 5 quick rules that will help you when buy your first set of golf clubs:
- Buy used clubs
- Find Deals
- Get cavity back irons – They have larger heads on the clubs and are easier to hit
- Invest in lessons over expensive clubs
- Ask around – A golfer in your life probably has some extra clubs laying around they’ll sell you for cheap
That should get you started.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be resourceful.
3. Learning the Rules
Learning the rules is obviously an important part of learning how to play golf. While they can seem overwhelming in the beginning, don’t get intimidated. Just learn the basics and pick up the rest as you go.
The best way to learn the rules of golf is to play experienced golfers and do what they do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes. It’s the way we all learn.
The list below will give you a brief overview of the basics.
There are 18 holes on a golf course.
Every hole on the golf course has a “par” which is the ideal amount of strokes it should take you to get the ball in the hole for that specific hole.
The pars range from 3-5. Known as “a Par 3” and so on.
The pars for each hole are then added up to equal the total par for the course. Typically 72.
How you perform on each hole has a specific name:
2 under Par (you shoot 3 on a Par 5) – Eagle
1 under Par – Birdie
Even with Par – Par
1 over Par – Bogey
2 over Par – Double Bogey
3 over Par – Triple Bogey
4 over Par – Quadrouple Bogey
5+ over Par – etc.
For example on a Par 4, if it takes you 4 shots to make your ball, you get a Par.
Par 3, takes you 4 shots, you get a Bogey.
Other Golf Rules:
Here’s some other key rules that will help get you started when heading out to the course.
When teeing off (starting) a hole. You must tee your ball up behind the markers, which are typically denounced by bright colored, oversized markers stuck into the ground. There are typically different tees for different skill levels. The more experienced further back and vise versa.
Shot Order on Green
Once every player on the hole has reached the green the person who is furthest away from the hole goes first. This repeats until everyone has made their putts.
Out of Bounds
If you hit your ball into the water or out of play, you take a one-stroke penalty and drop a new ball. You can either drop the new ball from where you just hit, or just before where it entered the out-of-bounds, then continue playing.
These are just a few of the basic rules of golf. If you are interested in learning more here are some of the top resources for golf scoring and rules:
4. Improving Your Game
When starting your journey into the “life-long game” of golf, you might as well start with good habits and not have to worry about breaking bad ones later.
I struggled for years trying to improve my game. It wasn’t until I realized that 90% of the improvement in my game was coming from 10% of the work I was putting in that the game became easier and I took 20 strokes off of my handicap.
Do these 3 simple things to improve your game and not waste time:
Read Golf Books To Improve Your Game
Counter to common belief, a lot of golf improvement can be made away from the course. Sitting at the range and hitting 100 balls with the wrong fundamentals will only engrave bad habits into your mind.
That being said, you have to be careful what you read. A lot of golf media is created just to get views and will not make major improvements to your game.
There is one book that single handedly started my journey to dropping my handicap.
It is an absolute must-read as you start your journey into golf.
Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf
Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons is the best book for anyone looking to develop a classic & consistent golf swing.
You can get it used for around a dollar at a local book store or easily from Amazon. Starting with these fundamentals will save you countless hours of trying to correct your golf swing later. Understanding “why” you do things in a golf swing is just as important as knowing how to swing the club.
Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect – Mental
How I Play Golf – Tiger Woods – All around game
Follow the 80/20 Rule When Practicing
“Drive for show, putt for dough.” is a saying for a reason.
It’s because if you want to improve your golf game you MUST work on your short game. Put the driver away and don’t even look at it until you feel completely comfortable on and around the green. These putting drills and chipping tips are a great place to start.
The 80/20 rule refers to putting 80% of your practice time towards your short game, and the other 20% towards everything else.
That means don’t even think about spending an hour hitting drives unless you plan on spending four hours putting.
I know. There’s something satisfying about smashing a drive as far as you can but if you can’t make a 4-foot putt consistently you’ll never be able to seriously improve your game.
Take a Few Lessons To Get Started
You’ve made the decision to learn how to play golf, spend the few extra dollars to make sure you really enjoy it and get off to a good start.
Taking a couple lessons with a trained professional will make sure that you develop the right habits early and learn how to think about the game the right way.
Well that’s it.
You’re off and running.
Remember when learning the game to manage your expectations and enjoy the process.
It’s a hard game, one that can never be mastered, and get’s the best of people that have played it their entire lives.
Never forget, even when you’re obsessed, practicing everyday, betting with your friends, winning the round, and blow it on the last hole…
That it’s just a game. The greatest one ever played.