Are you interested in playing golf but don’t know how to play? It could be that you’ve seen it on television and want to give it a try or maybe you’ve been invited to play a round and need to brush up on the basics. Here’s our beginner’s guide to golf.
Understand the different clubs
According to the official rules of a tournament golf course, you can take up to 14 clubs with you during a round. These will be made of up a combination of different woods, irons, hybrids, wedges and putters.
- Woods are long-distance clubs that you use to drive the ball. While they were historically made of wood, almost all manufacturers now use metal or other materials, but the name has been kept. They are numbered 1 to 9, with 1 being the club that hits the farthest.
- Irons are versatile clubs that are used for a range of different shots. Just as with woods, irons are numbered 1 to 9 based on the distance they can be used to hit. And again, irons are no longer usually made from iron – modern clubs are generally cast from steel alloys.
- Wedges are a speciality iron designed to be used in short-distance lob shots or to get out from hazards, as well as a range of other uses.
- Hybrids are designed to be a cross between a wood and an iron. It combines the long-distance shots of a wood with the familiar swing motion of an iron. They are generally used as replacements for long irons (1 to 4) which are difficult to hit, even for experienced players.
- Putters are used, unsurprisingly, for putting. They generally only come into play on the putting green for short distance shots and are arguably the one club that every single golfer will have on every round.
Understand the course
Golf courses are typically made up of 9 or 18 holes. Unlike most sports, the playing area is not standardised. That means that every single hole on every golf course in the world is different. They must all have a teeing ground, a fairway and a hole with a green around it. There may also be a range of challenges and hazards such as bunkers or water hazards.
- Teeing ground – this is where you start the hole, teeing-off from a tee
- Fairway – the area between the teeing ground and the green
- Green – the area around the hole with very short, specially-prepared grass where the putting takes place
- Rough – the grass that sits on the border of the fairway – usually longer and coarser than the fairway making it more difficult to play from
- Bunker – some holes contain a depression covered with sand as an obstacle, also sometimes referred to as a sand trap
- Water hazard – this could be a pond, a lake or a river that the course may have been constructed around
Learn the lingo
Golf has a large range of unique terminology that you’ll need to have a grasp of before you play. If you’ve watched golf on television, much of it may be familiar to you, but if you’re brand new to the sport or just need a refresher, here are some of the key phrases and what they mean:
- Par – the standard score for a hole or course
- Birdie – competing a hole 1 under par
- Eagle – completing a hole 2 under par
- Albatross – completing a hole 3 under par, also known as a double eagle
- Conor – completing a hole 4 under par
- Bogey – completing a hole 1 over par
- Hole-in-one – completing a hole in just one shot
- Round – playing the standard 18 holes of golf course
- Caddie – (or caddy) an assistant on the course who carries the player’s clubs
- Handicap – a number that is assigned to each player based on their ability. This number is used to adjust each player’s score to provide a closer game
Before you head out onto the course for the first time, it’s worth knowing the etiquette and what you can expect while you play. Golf can seem like quite a traditional sport but it can once you know the basics, it’s easy to avoid faux pas on the course.
- Learn the rules – the basics of golf are fairly simple, but some of the rules can be complicated especially with regards to lost balls, out of bonds, unplayable lies and water hazards – make yourself aware of what to do in each of these situations
- Repair any marks on the course – if you make a divot or mark on the course you should do what you can to repair it, also remember to rake any sand traps
- Don’t play slowly – it’s fine to take a reasonable amount of time on your shot but don’t waste time between your shots – move quickly to your next shot
- Never hit the ball towards other players – if you believe that there is a chance that your shot could hit another player request that they move out of the way first
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working with Golf Swing Systems, a golf training specialist focused on the use of video technology and the new BodiTrak technology.