Learning to play golf is easier than learning to play many other sports because golf is a closed-skill game, meaning you aren’t running, jumping or dodging balls when you’re trying to make a shot.
While it takes years to become a very good golfer, you can learn the basics faster than you think – if you work backwards.
The quickest way to learn how to control a golf ball and send it where you want is using the Graduated Length Method of learning. This means you start close to the hole, adding more of a backswing and follow-through as you learn to control the ball.
You start on the putting green, learning the short stroke needed to putt. As you develop a feel for club-ball interaction and learn to control the ball on the green, you move slightly off the green and practice chipping. Chipping is a short movement like a putt, but requires a bit more length to the swing. Once you get the hang of chipping, you move farther away from the hole and learn how to chip, which is a ¾ swing.
After you can control your pitches, it’s time to learn and practice a full swing. Because you’ve spent time learning how to use a club while putting, chipping and pitching, learning how to hit full-swing shots only requires you add a bit more backswing and follow through.
You’ll learn how to control the club by practicing on the putting green, chipping area and driving range, but you’ll learn much faster if you work with a golf professional to show you the correct grips, stances, ball placements and swings for each shot. Once you have this information from your coach, you’ll spend time on your own practicing what you’ve learned.
When you’ve developed the ability to hit a variety of shots (even though you can’t always control where they go!), it’s time to hit the course. Don’t be worried about holding up others behind you – you can always pick up your ball or drop another and keep playing to keep the pace moving.
When you first start playing rounds of golf, you don’t have to follow all of the scoring rules you’d follow in a tournament. Your goal is to experience what it’s like to hit a drive from a tee box, find your ball in the rough, hit out of the woods and experience hitting under pressure.
You might hire a golf professional to play the first nine holes with you. Your pro will not only give you technical information to help with your swing, but will also explain the rules to you as you go, help you select the right club and shot choices based on where your ball lands, and make sure you observe proper course etiquette.
You don’t need to invest in an expensive set of golf clubs to learn the game. Most golf facilities will have rental clubs, and a golf instructor will bring the clubs you need for a lesson to help get you started. When you’re ready to start playing the game on a regular basis, your golf pro can help you select the right set of clubs, based on your needs. A beginner set of clubs will include fewer clubs than those carried by experienced players, who need specialty clubs to make very specific shots.
For example, beginners generally don’t need a driver and long irons, relying instead on the control of “rescue” woods to keep the ball in play, rather than traveling far distances.
If you’re interested in learning to play golf, set up a phone call or meeting with a qualified coach before you take your first lesson to discuss a plan for learning the game. Ask how long it will take before you’re ready to play on the course, how often you’ll need to practice to get to that point, if the facility has loaner or rental clubs and what the cost of lessons will be.
If you buy a package of lessons, you will often get a discount off the private lesson rate. Your pro might also offer you free driving range balls for practices if you’re taking a series of private lessons. Ask about free or low-cost group clinics.
Search PlayYourCourse.com to find a golf coach near you for beginner golf lessons.