9 tips for your first time golfing

Interested in trying golf?

Here’s the best piece of advice ever: Don’t be intimidated. The object of the game is to have fun. Golf isn’t nearly as complicated as, say, quidditch, and just a little harder than dodge ball.

In fact, you can get going right now by keeping these hints in mind.

1. Go online. There are lots of sites that offer helpful tips for beginners on every topic from the basic rules to the fundamentals of the swing.

2. Go to a course. Even before you head to the tee for the very first time, do a little online research about the courses in your area. You will want to find a public or “semi-private” course (one that has members but also welcomes the public golfer). Drop into the golf shop, introduce yourself as a new golfer, and have a look around. Ask if they have a program to introduce new golfers to the game. If they do, sign up!

3. Go to a pro. Just about every course has a PGA of Canada professional. They’re helpful and knowledgeable. Even a half-hour lesson with a pro will get you started on the right path. Many courses offer lesson packages and some include playing a few holes as well. Taking a lesson is the best investment you can make if you want to enjoy the game and improve your skills.

4. Go get some clubs. Although most courses have clubs you can rent, you may want to have your own set. Pro shops at your local facility are a great place to start. Chain stores such as Costco, Giant Tiger, Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire also have inexpensive sets that include irons, woods, putter and a carry bag. They also sell inexpensive balls and tees. As long as you follow the course’s dress code (often published on their web site), you don’t even need golf shoes at this point. Running shoes will suffice.

5. Go to the driving range. If you’re taking lessons at a course, you no doubt have taken advantage of the practice facility, also called the driving range. If not, head for a local public driving range with a friend and hit some balls. Many facilities also have a practice putting green. As you will find out, putting is a very important part of the game!

6. Go to the first tee. You’ve hooked up with some friends or new acquaintances from your introductory program. You’ve asked the folks in the golf shop from which tees you should play as a beginner (generally, the most forward set of tees is appropriate).

7. Go hit the ball. Assuming you’ve followed these first few tips, you should be hitting the ball in the right general direction. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not as proficient as your more experienced companions. Just relax, swing, and don’t forget to breathe! From a safety perspective, make sure you are aware of where your friends are and when they are hitting. From a “pace of play” viewpoint, always be ready to hit your next shot when it’s your turn.

8. Go to the clubhouse. Much of the appeal of golf is the social aspect following a round. Reliving the game, good shots and not-so-good, with friends and family is an integral part of the game.

9. Go back. Golf has been called “the game for a lifetime.” You can play this game at whatever level you wish, from recreational to competitive, for years and years. It’s healthy, fun and a great way to meet new friends.

So there you go. Nine tips, just like the nine holes you will likely play the first few times you’re at the course.

But there is so much more!

Although you can learn the fundamentals of the swing, course etiquette and rules online, GolfCanada.ca is the best resource for anyone who enjoys the game at any level.

A Bronze Level Golf Canada membership is absolutely free! You get complimentary access to Level 1 online rules training, rewards for just playing the game, a Score Centre game and score tracking account, and other benefits.

As you play more golf, you’ll want an official handicap factor and the other benefits that come with a Golf Canada Gold Level membership.

But you have to start somewhere. So start now!

Many courses across Canada are offering special enticements and activities for new golfers on May 28, Canada’s Get Out and Golf Day. Check out golfcanada.ca/golfday for more details.