9 tips for your first time golfing

Chafing about the restrictions on your activities during the coronavirus pandemic?

One option that thousands of Canadians are taking advantage of in these difficult times is golf. Some are taking up the game for the first time while others are rediscovering its pleasures. Families who can’t go on vacation are enjoying golf outings together. Kids whose other sports are unavailable are loving the opportunity to learn the game. “Nine and dine” at the course is a great date night. Seniors can reconnect with their friends at the course.

Although there are necessary protocols that must be followed (these are outlined on just about every course’s web site), you still have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful scenery, socialize (while observing physical distancing) and get some exercise.

Here are nine tips to help you enjoy the game. On that note, nine holes is just the right number for beginners.

1. Go online

There are lots of sites that offer helpful tips for beginners on every topic from the basic rules and etiquette to the fundamentals of the swing and basic golf attire.

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. Most golf course pro shops carry equipment and gear to get you started. Chain stores and other major sporting goods retailers 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. Most importantly, don’t get frustrated if you’re not proficient immediately. You will improve the more you play and practise. Remember, the object of the game is to have fun.

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.

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

But you have to start somewhere. So, like so many of your fellow Canadians are doing these days, start now!