We all started playing golf without knowing anything about it.
We didn’t know what par was, and we didn’t know how to swing a golf club.
Although most say the right age to play golf is around 5-6 years old, golf is something that can be taken on at any point in your life.
If, of course, you’re physically capable of doing so.
Take me for example.
It took a pandemic and a lot of boredom to get me into one of the most popular sports/hobbies in America.
Starting off, things can be confusing.
But, with some patience and lots and lots of PROPER practice, you will find lots of enjoyment in the wonderful world of golf.
For now, let’s go over some of the basic things that will teach you how to play golf without looking like a complete newb.
How to Play Golf
Learning how to play golf is going to be the easiest part of your new journey.
It’s everything after that that will give you a headache.
I know there’s a lot to learn before you start with the complicated stuff, so I want to show you all the basic stuff first.
From how to play each hole and keep score, to some of the terms that you will soon be using in your daily life.
There are a lot of other things you need to know about golf before you get involved, remember that golf is kind of complicated.
So, let’s see how golf is played and what you should know before you get started.
There are many terms specifically for golf that you will find really interesting.
You will hear most of them for the first time and they will soon become a part of your vocabulary.
Here’s a list of golf terms that you might want to know before you hit the course.
Par – Even score, the number of shots allowed for a given hole.
Bogey – One shot over par
Birdie – One shot under par
Eagle – Two shots under par (attainable on par 4’s, par 5’s, or a hole in one for par 3’s)
Albatross – Three shots under par (attainable on par 4’s and par 5’s)
Hole in one – Getting the golf ball in any given hole, with one shot off the tee.
Tee – A small wooden or plastic stand, which allows the ball to sit on prior to “teeing off”
Tee Box – Area designated for your first shot for every golf hole
Fore – Warning for others who are in the direction of a hit golf ball
Bunker – Obstacle consisting of sand, purposely put there to challenge a golfer
Sand trap – A bunker
Hazard – Difficult obstacle on a golf course
Penalty area – Areas marked with yellow or red markings, usually around water, a cliff, or thick brush.
Gimme – A short putt that is likely to be made by the golfer (around 2 feet)
Ball marker – A coin or small object used to mark your ball when it’s on the green.
Green – Area surrounding the hole which a golfer uses for putting
Fairway – Pathway leading up to the green, which makes it easier for a golfer to hit the golf ball
Handicap – A scoring system in golf, which determines a golfer’s skill level.
There are other golfing terms that you should and will know, but you will learn those as you get further into the game.
For now, these terms will get you by.
The first thing you notice about golf is that there are many clubs in one’s golf bag, with the most common and prominent one being the driver.
That’s the club with a big head that hits the ball the furthest.
It’s the one that most golf newbs want to use.
And, it’s one, if not the hardest, golf club to hit in the bag.
There are other clubs that you should know about, and here they are.
These are the longest golf clubs in your bag and the family that the driver belongs to.
A typical wood set comes with the driver, a three wood, and a five wood.
These clubs are used for hitting the ball really far, which is why they are usually hit off the tee.
The three and five woods are used on the fairway, usually when you still have a long way to the green.
Next, we have the irons.
These are the clubs that you will use after the driver, for shots that are anywhere from 100-200 yards.
These are those shiny clubs that come in a set and require more effort in golf.
Each set comes with different numbers and can start from 3 all the way to “P”, which stands for pitching wedge.
With irons, the lower the number, the further distance you will hit the golf ball.
The higher the number, the shorter the distance.
The wedges are for golf shots that need to be hit anywhere around the green, up to 100 yards away.
These are my favorite clubs to use, as they are shorter and give you more control.
These are also the clubs you will use to get out of bunkers, as well as “chip” shots from around the green.
“Drive for show, putt for dough”
You may or may not have heard that line before, but the latter is referring to the last club in your bag, which is the putter.
This is the club you will use on the green and requires the least amount of strength.
It’s also one of the harder clubs to use and requires a lot of practice.
This isn’t always used but there are a lot of golfers that utilize the hybrid club.
I use it, as it helps with many situations on the course.
A hybrid club is a mix between an iron and a wood.
So, it’s great for golfers who can’t hit their woods the greatest but still need that extra distance from the fairway.
Hybrid clubs are also great for getting out of the thick stuff
Scoring in Golf
Now that you have an idea of what each golf club does, it’s time to understand how to keep score.
If you look at the image above, you will see the typed numbers in the light green boxes.
Those numbers represent the “par” for each hole and are the number of strokes needed to get a par.
Depending on how you want to keep score, you can put the total amount of strokes (like you see in the sample above), or you can put the number of strokes over the par amount.
So, if I take four strokes on a par 3, I can put a 4 or a 1 for that specific hole.
Once your round is done, you will add it all up, and that would be your score for that round.
One of the more complicated things you will discover when learning how to play golf is going to be your golf handicap.
This is what your average score is and gives others a better understanding of how good you are and the level you are at.
What’s awesome is that there is an entire organization called the USGA, that runs the GHIN (golf handicap and information network).
This network keeps track of everyone’s golf handicap, which means you can register yours once you attain one.
This is your official handicap, which will be used by players and organizations from all over the world.
How to Play Golf – Conclusion
Learning how to play golf is like anything else in life.
You need to put in the effort and you need to want to improve.
I do recommend you think really hard about this soon-to-be hobby of yours as it is one of the most addicting things you will ever see in your life.
And, if you find yourself practicing your swing at the grocery store, everyone will think you’re weird besides other golfers.
My wife thought I was the only one who did that until she saw this old man do it.
Air swinging is a thing and expect to do it if you are serious about learning how to play golf.
Until next time, be prepared for a lifelong adventure as golf is no walk in the park.