Before you can LOVE Golf, you need to know a little about it. The hardest part can be getting started. Golf can seem complicated to the uninitiated. There are the rules, different kinds of clubs, and then there's the lingo: birdies, bogeys, bump-and-runs. It’s enough to scare prospective golfers off before they even pick up a club. When do you know you’re ready for the golf course? What kind of clubs do you need? How do you practice? Questions, questions, questions. Let’s start at the beginning….
Before you hit the course, you should be able to hit the ball straight enough that people on the path won't be cowering behind a tree… So before you head out there, it’s a good idea to hit the driving range. Everyone wants to see how far they can hit a golf ball, but resist the temptation to immediately start ripping Drivers. Start out by hitting wedges or short irons, warming up your golf muscles with half-swings. Then increase the length and speed of your swings, and move on to your middle irons. Work your way up to the Driver, and after you hit some balls with it, go back to a short iron or wedge. If you don’t have a set of clubs, the Driving Range can supply you with some while you’re there. It is much easier to learn how to swing from the beginning than to have to un-learn bad behaviour first. So get some lessons before you start.
Whilst golf buddies might sometimes have a good tip for you, it’s better to seek out professional help and get lessons under the expert guidance of a PGA Pro since they’re the ones trained to teach the game to someone like yourself. The will tell you what you're doing right as well as what you're doing wrong. And just like golf club membership, you will be surprised at how reasonable a 30 minute lesson will be – well worth the shots saved!
It’s good to be able to hit a driver off the tee with a fair amount of confidence, hit an iron off the ground and get out of a greenside bunker (that’s lingo for a bunker that is beside the green) and know a few basic short shots around the green. And be able to keep your cool when things get ugly! Realize you suck. You will suck for a long time, hell you may even suck forever. So approach the game with good humour, don't become visibly annoyed with yourself because of bad shots. You will hit lots of bad shots. Practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more. If you are limited in the time you can spend practicing, concentrate on your short game and putting. If you can develop reasonable accuracy and distance control in these areas, you will enjoy your game and be able to score much better than someone who can drive 300 metres but can't putt. And that will drive them mad, which is nice.
At some point you’ll be wanting to get your own set of clubs. You’ll want a Driver, 3-wood, a numbered iron set – typically from 3 or 4 through to a pitching wedge - a sand wedge and a putter. That's 11 to 12 clubs which will allow you to play from pretty much any lie. Depending on your level of golf and how often you will commit to playing, you could buy a second hand set to start. If there's one club that you should buy new for your first set, it's your putter. The Pros drive for show, but putt for dough. You can practice putting at home, and whilst your carpet might not play as fast as the greens, you can still practice putting by rolling balls through doorways and into furniture legs.
Learning how to play may be the most important part of becoming a golfer, but not to be overlooked is knowing what to wear. This matters for a variety of reasons: because most golf courses enforce some kind of dress code (some stricter than others); because you'll be spending at least four hours outdoors; and because, frankly, who doesn't want to look sharp?
You'll want comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict movement. Golf attire is traditionally unfashionable but these days there is lots of cool stuff out there. While you can buy specialized clothing, all you really need is a polo shirt and a pair of casual-wear khaki shorts, slacks or a skirt that fit you well and allow free range of motion. As for jeans, best to leave these at home. Even if a course allows them, they're uncomfortable for golf.
The right footwear is essential, but you can hold off on purchasing golf shoes until you become more serious about the game. Stick with sneakers, which you'll be able to use on and off the course. Jandals will give you no grip at all. High heels are clearly unsuitable!