Despite being caricatured as an idle pastime for the rich and famous, golf is actually a beloved game practiced by millions around the world. It requires plenty of focus, self-management, confidence, and abstract thinking.
In truth, taking up golf can be quite intimidating for aspiring players – so many types of clubs, rules, endless jargon… If you’re contemplating taking the plunge, we’ve put together a practical guide to shepherd you on your way to becoming a golf pro!
How Golf is Played in a Nutshell
First things first, you cannot start golfing without knowing how the game is played. The rules are quite straightforward; using a club on a large open course, your goal is to swing the golf ball (called a “stroke”) to get it inside a hole in a limited amount of strokes. As you advance throughout the course, you keep track of how many strokes it took you to reach the holes.
Once you, and everyone else if you’re playing in a group, have successfully reached a hole, you move on to the next one, until the game is over. The player who’s scored his balls in the least amount of strokes wins.
Golf is filled with lingo that is virtually incomprehensible to non-players. Let’s go over some of these terms to help you understand what they mean:
- Teeing Area — This is the initial square where players take their first swing. Its size is a standard 2×1 club-length rectangle.
- The Green — This is where you’ll find the flagstick and hole. The grass at the green is cut shorter to allow players to use a putter, which is a more delicate type of stroke.
- Fairway — It’s the distance that separates the teeing area from the green. You must keep the ball on the fairway to avoid penalties.
- Par — Each hole has a predetermined number of strokes (or moves) to reach and that number is known as the ‘par’, usually from 3 to 5.
- Birdie — You get a birdie when you’ve reached the hole in fewer strokes than the par.
- Bogey — In contrast, players who exceed the par get a bogey.
- Fore — Yelling ‘fore!’ is a way to let others on the course know that a ball is coming their way to avoid surprises and potential injuries.
Mastering the Golf Grip
If you wonder how Tiger Woods won all those championships, the answer lies in his unparalleled golf grip. In any club or racket sport, the player must have a proper and precise grip to maneuver their tool and be able to aim and score. For absolute beginners, this helpful guide recommends practicing a firm grip before heading to the practice range or course. With some research, you’re bound to find a resource that shows you precisely how it’s done, with illustration pictures and accurate hand positioning tips.
Adopting the Right Posture
Likewise, posture is of the essence. When you’re not properly grounded, leaning back or forward too much, or not allowing yourself to be ‘springy’ enough, this lessens the efficacy of your shot, especially if you’re on the green. As such, a solid stance should be wide, stable, and perfectly balanced. The ideal posture should have you tilt at the hips and not the waist.
Types of Clubs
For a golf novice, it’s easy to get lost among the plethora of clubs used by more advanced players. All have different characteristics, calibers, and sub-names. Basically, there are four major types of golf clubs:
- Woods — On the teeing area, you’re most likely to use a wood to hit the balls far up in the air. Here, you may use a number 1, 2, or 3, respectively called driver, brassey, and spoon. Woods have the largest heads of all clubs.
- Irons — Numbered from 1 to 9, irons allow you to hit the ball over shorter or greater distances. Subtypes include wedges, which, in turn, have their own categories.
- Putters — Putters come in the widest selection of sizes, lengths, and shapes. They’re used on the green for those last gentle strokes before hitting the hole.
All things considered, many consider golfing to be an acquired taste. It will take you weeks, if not months, of arduous practice to develop the correct grip and posture, work on your swing, and become the master of the green. That is why any golf-related article you’ll ever come across will recommend that amateurs start slow and steady on a practice field before moving on to the gold course. Ultimately, you’ll benefit from taking some classes and reviewing the fundamentals every now and again. Happy swinging!