Golf basics for beginners are an introduction to the game that can be played by anyone, male or female, from an early age to late into retirement.
It is a game that has the added benefits of being played in the open air at a leisurely pace which helps towards a healthy lifestyle, as well as brings benefits of social interaction.
The popularity of golf in recent years has given birth to an abundance of new courses, a lot designed for the beginner or novice player.
The days of thinking of golf as a sport for the privileged few are now long gone, however, it can be a little daunting to start with understanding some of the rules, terminology, and etiquette.
Sometimes it can be quite frightening trying to get involved in a new sport and feeling a bit of an idiot standing out as a newbie.
This article will hopefully get you started on being confident enough to give it a try or give you an insight into the game so you don’t feel completely out of your depth.
As you read through to the end you will see colored links that take you to a particular topic that is explained in more depth.
Should you have any further unanswered questions, no matter how trivial please feel free to email me in the comments section at the end of this post.
In This Article
Golf Basics for Beginners
Golf can be an expensive pastime when you look around at all the equipment that is available.
Lots of gleaming golf clubs from a variety of manufacturers all professing to be the best for your game and promising you will play like a top pro within weeks.
It is advisable when you first start not to get sidetracked into buying a new set of clubs but start off with a half set of reasonable pre-used. Tips here for developing your golf swing.
Make a point of practicing the golf swing. Feel the rotation of your shoulders while keeping your balance.
Don’t try to hit the ball, let the club and the golf swing do the work.
Gradually your confidence will grow as you learn how far each club sends the ball, and when you know you are hooked on the game then is time to consider a new set of clubs.
Basic rules and Etiquette
One fundamental thing that you should know as a beginner is a basic etiquette that is practiced by all golfers.
The main etiquette is sticking to the rules even if you are the only individual aware of the infraction.
Different from other games, there is no referee on the golf course and so individuals should apply the rules by themselves.
Don’t try to learn every rule to start with, as the rulebook is very thick covering every eventuality, and may deter you from playing.
Here is a link for a quick guide to golf rules. Get used to the basic everyday rules to start you off. The more technical ones can be learned as you become more proficient. More here on golf terminology.
Mostly golf etiquette is basic common sense and good manners. Talking or moving around when another golfer is taking their shot or moving off before all players have driven.
If you use a golf trolley, these should not be pulled onto the tee or green as the wheels may compact the surface.
Being ready to play when it is your turn, or calling the group behind through if you feel your group is holding up play. These are all examples of golf etiquette.
As with any sport, golf has its own terminology concerning the various playing formats, scoring, and quirky names for good and bad shots.
Players can compete in a competition as a single or as a team with another player. Groups can tee off as a two, three, or a maximum of four.
A group of four players will obviously take longer than a two-ball, so it is a courtesy to call faster players through.
The exception to this is a single-player who has no standing on the course, but if you feel pressure it is best to let them go so you feel comfortable. More here on Golf scoring.
The principal aim of scoring in golf is to be the player who has taken the least amount of shots. This is the basic format in stroke play which is used by professionals in all the major and ranking tournaments.
Most new golfers are allocated a handicap by submitting three cards. Generally, the maximum for a male is twenty-eight and a female thirty-six.
This handicap is adjusted as the player improves, and allows players of differing abilities to compete.
A scoring format that has become very popular over recent years is Stableford scoring, invented by a doctor of the same name that formulates a points system.
Unlike stroke play points can be accumulated from each hole, still adjusting for handicap, but it is the player with the highest score that wins. Explaining how Stableford works.
Whichever scoring format is used everything is based above or below the par for the hole. A Birdie is good as it is one under par.
An Eagle is a terminology for two under par and an Albatross or Double Eagle which is very rare indeed is three under par.
The opposite of this is termed a Bogey for one over par or a double or triple Bogey for two or three over. More here on defining what a bogey in golf is.
A standard golf course is made up of eighteen holes, but due in part to the time it takes to play there have been more and more nine-hole venues opening.
Each hole is allocated a par depending on the length and the difficulty.
In addition to this as can be seen on the scorecard, each hole has a stroke index which signifies difficulty.
A stroke index of one indicates the most difficult hole ranging through to eighteen which is considered the easiest.
A par three is the shortest and a scratch player, or a player with no handicap adjustment is expected to complete the hole in three strokes.
Similarly, a par four is completed in four shots, and a par five in five strokes.
The tees are divided into red at the front for ladies, yellow for the tee of the day, and white is the medal tees at the back.
This layout can vary between some courses, which have introduced a blue tee for juniors & seniors which is in front of the red tees.
At some clubs, you may find a black tee-off position, which is reserved for professional tournaments.
Golf Driving Range
A golf driving range or practice area is the first place to experiment with building a golf swing that suits your particular stature.
A common misconception is that we should all try to develop a standard swing like the top professionals.
This is great if you have an athletic physique and inbuilt talent, but most of us have not.
So it is more important for a beginner to practice a simple swing that works automatically without thinking.
A golf swing needs to be ingrained in the psyche so that it can be performed naturally for every shot without clouding the brain.
Worrying about the grip, the stance, and how far you are turning your body while performing the swing will just lead to mis-hits.
The aim is to get the swing to perform without thinking similar to what you are when driving a car. Read this article to find out more about using a simple golf swing.
How to choose the correct club for a shot
Once you have perfected a golf swing that suits you and you feel comfortable with, you will then be able to differentiate between the clubs and practice increasing the distance and accuracy.
A set of clubs is made up of Woods and Irons, which have been recently added to by rescue clubs. These are a modern addition to add confidence for the average player.
The woods are the driving tools for hitting long-distance shots, the irons have individual loft degree faces which allow you, after time, to establish which club depending on the distance from the green.
The putter is used when reaching the green. More tips here on rangefinders to establish distance
Golf is one of those sports that can never really be mastered.
Even the top tour professionals can win a major tournament but then for some unexplained reason quickly drop down the rankings to obscurity.
A lot of it boils down to mind control. So if you take your time and practice getting a comfortable golf swing, gradually your confidence will grow.
Hopefully, you will make new friends and playing partners which will lead to a healthy lifestyle with this wonderful sport.