Are you starting to play golf? There are a lot of things to remember and learn, aren’t there? Some things are important, while others seem absolutely trivial in comparison. Can you tell the difference? Here is a list of 10 questions which beginners often ask about learning to play golf.
1. What is the best way to learn golf?
Get golf lessons for beginners. There is no question that most people learn golf best by having a live human instructor. You want an instructor with a good reputation. For a start, don’t get personal one-on-one instruction (even if you can afford it). You want to attend a class with a few other students. This gives you a little bit of competition, which always helps to motivate your learning. In the long run, it is also easier for you to find people to play with after your lessons end.
2. What should I learn first – how to drive the golf ball, chipping or putting?
In general, that depends on your golf instructor. Many commercial golf schools and trainers emphasize golf swing instructions. Why? Because that is what most beginning golfers want to learn. Most golfers, especially beginners, want to emulate Tiger Woods spectacular 200+ yard drives.
However, what most amateurs don’t realize is that pros earn their living by superior putting. 30% to 40% of your game is spent putting. This statistic even applies to the pros. Many high-handicap players find that getting some dedicated golf putting instructions helped to slash their handicap.
As a beginner, you’ll find yourself in trouble most of the time. You’ll probably find yourself spending 15 to 20 strokes chipping the ball… on your good days. Learning how to play your pitching wedge and sand wedge well is a must.
Regardless, don’t forget to ask your golf instructor to evaluate your grip. Before you even learn how to swing the club, you need to learn how to grip a golf club correctly. In my circle, it used to be an important part of golf swing teaching, but I hear that modern golf trainers place less emphasis on the grip. Why should you care? Because many players hook or slice their balls due to an incorrect grip. There is no reason not to learn how to grip your golf club correctly. If you need more help than your instructor can give you, why not buy training grips? Amazon sells them for as little as $5 (at the time of writing). You may find them uncomfortable at first, but that just shows that you have a problem with your grip.
3. What should I wear on the golf course?
If you are taking golf lessons for beginners, pick up the phone and ask your instructor. However, golf is very commercialized nowadays. On most courses, it is OK to wear any kind of collared shirt and (non-jeans) trousers. Many places are starting to allow even t-shirts and casual khaki pants.
4. Should I tip my golf instructor?
Would you tip your waiter for good service? If you thing your instructor helped you a lot, then tip him to show your appreciation.
5. What clubs do I need to play golf?
You need exactly 14 golf clubs in a real game. You need a driver (1-wood), 3-wood and 5-wood, a set of (7) irons from 3 to 9, pitching wedge, sand wedge, putter, and one more club of your choice. As a beginner, you’ll find yourself in trouble a lot – picking a third wedge or a hybrid club can be very helpful.
6. What are custom-fitted clubs? Do I need them?
Many years ago, most people just went to their local golf shop to buy clubs off the shelf. Nowadays, golf shops are a lot more advanced. They can actually customize your clubs to the way you swing them, sometimes for free!
Unless your instructor advises you to get custom-fitted clubs, I would avoid them as a beginner. Custom-fitted golf clubs are best for intermediate-level players who have developed a stable golf swing. At this (intermediate) level, you will find a custom-fitted driver, putter and wedges very helpful to lower your handicap.
7. What are the best clubs for me?
As a beginner, a cheap, complete set of secondhand golf clubs is best. Know that you will make mistakes – many, many mistakes. You WILL bang your club into the ground and bend it. You WILL lose control of your club and bend it. You WILL miss the ball and break your club.
You really need very cheap clubs that you dare to make mistakes with. This is your learning set – these clubs are expendable. You should expect to replace your clubs several times over your first few years of playing… if you seriously expect to lower your golf handicap.
A $400 Callaway driver is not a good club for a beginner. An expensive club like this will paralyze your game. You won’t dare to swing it hard. You’ll be too afraid of breaking the club to get any practice in. On the other hand, a “cheapo” secondhand X-Factor Super Zolex off eBay is a different matter. Who cares how many of them you bend or break while learning to drive the ball?
8. What are the best golf swing training aids?
To be blunt, go sign up for golf lessons for beginners. Next, buy four or five boxes of golf balls to practise with. You can get secondhand balls in good condition from Amazon for as little as $0.50 a piece. Top players like Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh (one of the top earners on the golf circuit) don’t just rely on their natural talent to win. They hit hundreds of golf balls everyday. If you expect to improve your golf swing, go hit at least one bucket of balls every weekend.
Frankly, for beginners, most golf swing training aids are useless unless used under the guidance of a skilled instructor. Until you consistently make good contact with your golf balls and can hit the sweet spot of your club relatively often, any commercially available golf swing training aid is a waste of time and money.
9. Can I learn golf from free golf lessons online?
Well, the PGA has some pretty good videos. But don’t expect to get something for nothing. Most free golf lessons online will not give you everything. You need to know that these sites expect to sell you something. That means there is usually some important detail hidden from you. If you are naturally talented at sports, you could probably work out the hidden key. But for most of us, we need everything. And that means paying – whether it is a DVD course, an online course or face-to-face golf lessons with a human instructor.
10. What is the perfect golf swing?
There is no such thing. If you look at the pros, you’ll find that everyone swings differently. That said, there are two main types of golf swing – the one plane swing and the two plane swing. The one plane swing was pioneered by Ben Hogan and Jim Hardy, and employs a more natural rotary swinging motion where you match your arms and shoulders throughout the swing. Today, you can see Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods employing this type of swing. Many other pros use the two plane swing, where they blend the flat rotation of their body with the upright swinging of their arms. For those of you old enough to remember him, this is how Jack Nicklaus plays.
Unless you intend to go pro, it doesn’t matter to you. Just follow what your golf instructor teaches you in your lessons and you won’t go wrong.