How to play golf
If you want to learn how to play golf, then the first thing that you have to understand is that it’s an easy game to pick up but a difficult one to master. It’s all about mastering technique and making the most of every swing, but getting started is fairly easy and almost anyone can pick it up.
Here we’ll go over many of the basics so that you understand the overarching rules and form. This will allow you to pick up the club and start playing.
01.The Basics of Golf
We are going to start with the very basics here, but it’s necessary to know if you want to learn how to play golf. A standard golf course has 18 holes, each with varying par levels (or number of swings allowed before you bogey) and different layouts. The goal of the game is to get your ball from the tee point, where you start off, to the hole with the least number of swings.
The hole area is soft green and covered in short grass, which is easy to play on. A flag is planted in the hole itself to make it easy to see from a distance. There are 9-hole courses available that are best for beginners.
Each course, regardless of size, is played according to the hole number. So, after finishing hole #1 you would go to hole #2, this seems logical, but the actual layout can make this confusing depending on how the holes are situated. Be sure to either get a course map or ask a more experienced player or caddie where the next hole is.
02.Order of Play
In most games, the order of play is determined at the beginning and remains consistent throughout the game. That’s not the case with golf. While the first hole can be determined at random, subsequent holes are determined by each players’ score. The player with the highest score goes first, the second-highest player goes second and so on.
After that, the order becomes whoever is closest to the tee (or furthest from the hole, whichever way is easier). The player closest to the tee area will continue going until his or her ball passes another player, in which case that other player would then go next. It continues going this way until all players have landed their ball in the hole.
03.Moving the Ball
Except for in rare and specific situations, you are to never move the ball. If the ball lands in an unfavorable spot, you cannot move the ball without major penalties and a huge loss of respect. So, if you don’t want to be a cheater, it’s best to follow the rules and keep the ball where it is. This can lead to some bad or awkward shots, but it’s the name of the game.
However, let’s talk about instances when you can move the ball. Let’s say your ball flies out of bounds or falls into a water hazard and cannot be collected. In that case you receive a one-stroke penalty but you can put the ball back in its original spot and try again. You can also move your ball slightly if there is a man-made obstruction (one not meant to be on the course). For example, a beer can or a sprinkler would qualify as this.
04.Swing Form and Technique
Perhaps the hardest part of mastering golf is understanding how to swing the club. While it seems easy enough, most new players have sloppy swings, which is to be expected. They tend to move too quickly, have inaccurate hits and have a general lack of form. While only practice can truly improve your form, these tips will get you read for the perfect stroke.
In general, your feet should be shoulder width apart. There are some strokes where they should be wider or narrower, like the drive or put, but we’ll stay within general guidelines for now. This gives you a good base for transferring power and keeps you stable during the stroke. Bend your knees slightly and also bend at your hips. Your back should remain straight at all times. A curved back can lead to injury and just isn’t as good overall for hitting the ball.
When it comes to left-hand and right-hand players, the general rule is that your non-dominant side should be facing the hole, so right-hand players should have their left side facing towards the hole.
The upswing has a few steps. First, raise the club until it is parallel to the ground. At this point, the toe (the rounded edge at the end) is facing towards the sky. Then, raise it higher until it forms a 90-degree angle with your arms. Your shoulders should rotate to allow this and the toe should be facing the opposite direction of the hole. Lastly, your shoulders should rotate further to allow you to raise the club all the way up. It should be at about 1 o’clock from the ground.
Now, the downswing. As you bring the club down, your weight should shift towards the direction you want the ball to go (left for right-hand players and right for left-hand players). Keep your arms straight and allow the club to hit the ball. Then, just continue to extend your arms and follow the natural arc to use as much force as possible and give the ball the best chance of reaching the hole.
Golf clubs, especially premium ones, can be very expensive. If you’re a casual player or just not sure how much you’ll play, then you probably don’t want to invest too much into the sport. That’s fine, there are actually ways around this.
First of all, let’s talk about clubs. There are wooden and iron ones that come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some are meant for wedging, others are meant specifically for the rough and sand traps, others are meant for the drive (or tee shot), others for mid-distance shots and others are for putting. In competitive games you are allowed to bring 14 clubs. Bringing more than this will lead to a penalty for each hole, usually a two-stroke penalty per additional club.
However, you don’t really need this many clubs unless you’re a professional and you need the best score. Most amateurs will find that they are perfectly capable of handling nearly any situation with a driver, sand wedge, putter, pitching wedge, 6-iron, 8-iron and hybrid club. If you can afford these seven clubs, then you’re fine.
Still don’t want to buy your own clubs? That’s fine, you can often rent them from a golf course. Renting builds up over time, but for casual players you’ll often save money doing this rather than buying your own clubs. You could also consider playing with experienced golfers who will let you use their clubs, but that’s not always possible.
Etiquette is a big part of golf, so you’re expected to follow certain rules (yes, there are rules about what you can talk about and how to behave). For example, it’s perfectly fine to talk to team mates or caddies about strategy, but you can’t do this withopposing players. Usually this isn’t a problem in friendly games, especially if you’re new, but it’s against the rules in competitive games.
Talking and socializing is fine and expected, but not when someone is about to take a shot. At that point, everyone goes silent so that the golfer up can concentrate and get the best shot. Be sure to avoid the line of play, you don’t want to get hit by a ball or club, and it’s best for new players to yell “Fore!” before swinging. You won’t have control of the ball yet, and this let’s others know to watch their heads.
Lastly, if your ball is lost, only take five minutes to look for it. This is considered proper etiquette and it’s an actual rule, you only have five minutes to find a lost ball. If a ball is hit out of bounds or in a water trap, then you take a one-stroke penalty and just start your shot over from the original spot. If the ball is found, then you have to hit it from there.
New players will need some time to learn the proper etiquette, but feel free to ask more experienced golfers what the rules are to help you along.
Learning how to play golf can be challenging but also rewarding. While there are many rules, start by just focusing on getting the right clubs, understanding how the game works and how to swing the club. After that, everything else will fall into place.