Any time you set out on a new endeavour in life, whether it’s in your career or in your personal life, it can be extremely challenging and intimidating.
There are always many new skills to learn and develop, and an entirely new set of terminology and lingo to master.
Golf is no different.
As a newcomer to the game, you are embarking on a journey that can be extremely rewarding. But it’s critical that your first steps are taken with care, so that you put in place a proper foundation that will pay dividends for many years to come.
Learning and focusing on the proper fundamentals of golf will have a big impact on how well you do down the road and how much fun you have along the way.
With this in mind, we’ve put together some golf tips for beginners that will hopefully help you start off on the right path.
These tips are broken down into several categories:
(a) Tips for buying the right set of golf clubs
(b) Tips for learning the golf swing and how to improve your game
(c) Tips on golf etiquette for the beginner
Let’s get started…
Tips for Buying the Right Golf Clubs
1. Start with an Affordable Set
When you start out in golf, it isn’t necessary to make a huge investment on your first set of clubs.
And while it’s definitely advisable to get clubs that are suited to your swing, you won’t need to break the bank to get a perfectly adequate set.
Several of the major golf manufacturers sell “complete sets” for beginners that come pre-packaged with all of the clubs that you will need to get started…
From the driver right on down to the putter, and most even include a nice golf bag as well.
Their quality is good, and you can buy them at a fraction of the cost of a full, new set purchased one component at a time.
Companies such as Callaway, Cobra, Wilson, Tour Edge, and others, have recognized the need of beginner golfers to get quality golf clubs at an affordable price and they all cater to this market with fully-equipped starter sets.
2. Consider a Partial Set at First
The Rules of Golf entitle you to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in your bag. However, there is no rule that says that you must carry that full complement of clubs.
Some beginner golfers will want to go with a full 14-club set, but it may be advisable for real first-timers to consider a smaller set initially.
Fewer clubs makes a lot of sense for many beginners.
You can start with, say, 8 to 12 clubs (or even fewer) and then add the additional ones later as your skill level improves and your commitment to golf increases.
Depending on your level of skill, starting out with just a driver, a hybrid, a few irons, a sand wedge, and a putter will provide a good foundation from which you can begin to develop your skills.
3. Be Wary of the “Hand-Me-Down” Set
It’s not uncommon at all for many beginner golfers to start out with a set of old clubs given to them by their father or a friend.
The desire to save money at this stage is perfectly understandable, but starting out this way can often be a mistake.
Every golfer has unique characteristics, as does every set of golf clubs.
Shaft flex is one good example of how clubs can vary from set to set.
Some clubs have very stiff shafts, which are designed for stronger players with fast swing speeds, while others have shafts that are very flexible, which are targeted at players with slower swing speeds.
Unless you happen to have the same swing characteristics as the person who is giving you their clubs, starting out with theirs can turn out to be a recipe for failure.
Playing with clubs designed for someone else can lead to poor swing habits that may be hard to change later on.
In the worst-case scenario, it may even lead someone to give up on the game altogether because they aren’t achieving the results they were expecting.
Starting out by selecting clubs that are appropriate for you, and which are designed to make the game easier for you, can help to avoid these situations.
4. Buy Clubs That Are “Forgiving”
Although we’d all like to hit golf shots that always strike the club face squarely on its sweet spot, the fact of the matter is that we often don’t.
And for beginners who are just taking up the game, these mis-hits are fairly common… and to be expected.
But there’s good news.
Modern golf club designers are now able to build features into clubs that are specifically aimed at helping beginner golfers to hit the ball better which, in turn, leads to greater enjoyment of the game.
With these “forgiving” clubs, your shots that hit the face a little toward the toe, or a little toward the heel, will still fly almost as far and as straight as a sweet-spot hit.
They are also weighted in such a way as to launch the ball higher, which beginners will also appreciate.
Forgiveness in your clubs is a game improvement feature that beginners should definitely seek out when looking for a set of golf clubs.
By the same token, beginners should avoid buying clubs designed for advanced golfers (referred to as “player’s clubs”).
They are much less forgiving and are designed for skilled golfers who don’t require as much assistance.
What to look for?
Make sure your irons have a “cavity back” design, which distributes more weight around the perimeter of the club head and provides forgiveness.
Look for clubs that have an ample sole width (the bottom of the club). With a wider sole, the center of gravity is pushed lower in the club head, which will make it easier for you to get the ball airborne.
5. Avoid Low-Lofted Drivers
Most beginners will benefit from using a driver that has at least 11-12 degrees of loft.
Lofts lower than that are designed only for more accomplished golfers who have high swing speeds.
With those powerful swings, they can generate the kind of speed that is necessary to provide sufficient lift to the ball, which launches the ball on an optimal trajectory.
But most beginners will not have that kind of power in their swing.
So, instead of relying on swing speed to get the ball to launch high, slower swinging beginners need to instead utilize the loft of the club to achieve the needed launch angle.
One other benefit:
Because of the increased driver loft, it will impart more backspin to the ball and less sidespin. Sidespin is what causes slices and hooks, so by reducing it, you will tend to hit your shots straighter.
Tips for Learning the Swing and Improving
6. Go to a Golf Pro for Lessons
As much as I believe the golf tips for beginners listed on our website will help your game, there is no substitute for a PGA pro, particularly at this critical stage in your development as a golfer.
Pros have been specifically trained to work with beginners and they will introduce swing concepts in the appropriate way and in the appropriate sequence.
Getting the proper swing fundamentals ingrained in these early stages will pay big dividends for you down the road.
Misguided advice from a well-meaning friend could set you back, as you then have to “unlearn” a bad habit before you can implement the correct one.
Start off on the right foot by getting the proper advice from a trained professional.
7. Practice with a Purpose
It sure is fun to go to the driving range and see how far you can drive the ball.
However, that’s usually not a formula for improvement.
Swinging out of your shoes for maximum distance can quickly get your swing out of sync.
Now is the time to be instilling the proper muscle memory so that the correct fundamentals become subconscious habits.
The payoff in improvement will be far greater if you maximise your range time by practicing with a purpose.
Initially, pay attention to the basics of grip, stance, posture, alignment, balance, and tempo.
As you improve, you can then also focus on the specific swing mechanics.
8. Work Extra Hard on Your Short Game
Here’s a stat you may not know.
About 60% of a golfer’s shots during a round are within 100 yards of the hole.
If you stop and think about that for a moment, there is an obvious conclusion that can be drawn:
If you really want to improve your scores, spend more time working on your short game (pitches, chips, bunker shots, putting), at least as much as you do on your woods and iron play.
Unfortunately, most experienced amateur golfers don’t dedicate enough time and energy to this part of their game…
And their scores suffer as a result.
But as a newcomer to golf, you should take this is an object lesson.
Spend as much time around the practice putting green working on your short game skills as you do on the driving range.
It doesn’t take size or strength to be good at the short game. Short or tall, man or woman, young or old, everyone can become good pitchers, chippers and putters.
All it takes is learning the right techniques, and then spending the time it takes to perfect them.
This work will be rewarded as you start saving strokes.
9. Head for the Par 3 Course
Golf on a full-length Championship Course can be challenging enough for experienced players.
As a beginner, before you take on one of these 6,000+ yard courses, a great strategy would be to start out on a short Par 3 course (sometimes referred to as an “Executive” course).
These are courses that consist of only Par 3 holes and an occasional very short Par 4 hole. They are a great way to acclimate yourself to the game, to learn the golf swing, and to build confidence.
They’re also a lot of fun.
And you’ll have ample opportunity to practice those short game skills that you’ve been working on!
Tip on Golf Etiquette
10. Be a Scratch Golfer When It Comes to Etiquette
Like the short game, it doesn’t take special skills to demonstrate exceptional golf etiquette.
Being new to golf, however, the key for you will be learning what all the “rules” of etiquette are in the first place.
Most are unwritten and will be learned as you play more rounds of golf. Pay attention to the better golfers that you play with and watch how they behave on the golf course.
Other rules of etiquette simply involve common sense (e.g., don’t talk while someone else is hitting).
But as you start out, there are a few basics that should be adhered to right away…
If you pay heed to these basics, and be a quick learner on the others, you will be welcomed into any foursome:
- Have respect for the course. This means replacing divots, fixing ball marks, and raking the sand trap after being in it.
- Play at a reasonable pace so that you don’t hold anyone up, either others in your own group, or the group playing behind you.
- Remain still and quiet while others are hitting.
- Don’t walk in someone’s putting line (the line between their ball and the hole).
For centuries, golf has been a game that has been built around sportsmanship, proper decorum and camaraderie.
These traditions are reflected in the etiquette that all golfers should display on the course.
As a final note after reading all these golf tips for beginners, always remember that the primary goal of playing golf should be to have fun.
One of golf’s greats, Raymond Floyd, once said that “Golf is a game, and games are meant to be enjoyed.”
Try to keep that in mind when you start to experience golf’s inevitable challenges and frustrations.
As a beginner, you’re naturally going to be focused on your goals and on getting better. But, as many experienced golfers have learned too late in their golfing career, you can’t reach your goals if you’re not enjoying your time on the course.
Good luck on your path to better golf!