Golf - Learn And Enjoy - Part I

Donald Saunders

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The game of golf, or “gowf", is generally agreed to have started in Scotland during the fifteenth century and to have been formally established in 1744 when the Company of Gentlemen Golfers met in Edinburgh and set down the first formal rules of the game.

Today golf is the most popular sport in the world and is played not only in its home of Scotland but in the United States, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, Thailand and China, to mention just a handful of countries. Indeed, there are even golf colleges today that offer a major in golf!

For the novice, taking up golf means entering a world with a rich and varied history and one which can also often mean a major investment in both money and time. It is also a world with a steep learning curve, both physically and mentally, but a world that can be enormous fun. So where do you start?

Well, perhaps the easiest way to answer that question is by turning it on its head and looking at where not to start.

First, don't rush out and spend a huge sum of money on equipment, clothing, lessons, course fees, and a host of other bits and pieces. At this stage you don't know which courses are worth the money and what equipment you will need or will suits you best. Lessons are certainly a good idea for the novice, but even they can wait a while.

Part of the excitement of golf comes from finding a game that you can play with your partner, family, colleagues and friends. But, despite its often seemingly relaxed and family atmosphere, golf is a difficult game to play well and can be both frustrating and expensive if you don't invest a little time in finding out what you need to know.

Start small and don't take everything too seriously at first. Spend a little time on the driving range and get the feel of swinging a golf club, but don't spend so long on the range that you develop bad habits which are hard to break later. The driving range is a cheap and effective way to get your muscles moving and to discover whether or not you have an aptitude for, or a real interest in, the game. It can also give you an idea of the types of clubs and balls to use.

Next, find an inexpensive course and wear comfortable, loose clothing that allows you freedom of movement around your arms and shoulders. Don't go out and spend $1,000 on pants, shoes, and shirts just yet. Don't invest in a set of golf clubs either just yet. Start with a simple three club set borrowed from a friend or rented from the clubhouse. A nine iron, a wedge, and a number 5 wood will be plenty. You may also want to borrow or rent a putter at this stage, but putting can also wait a little while.

Now, get out on the golf course and have a go. Relax, observe others who appear to know what they're doing and imitate their grip, stance, and posture. Tee up, keep your eye on the ball as you swing, and give it a firm whack. Now you'll probably miss a few, maybe even more than a few, but so what! Enjoy yourself and get a feel for swinging at the ball and see what happens when you try hitting the ball at different angles and varying speeds.

After your initial round head over to the putting green, but don't start by trying to imitate Tiger Woods and hole your first putt from 30 yards. Get close to the hole – a couple of feet will do – and start putting. Consistency is the key here and you'll want to practice at this distance until you can sink 20 or 25 putts in a row. Then move back to say 5 or 6 feet and repeat the process. They're going in – great! Now try 10 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet. Okay, enough for now. Don't get too ambitious and remember, even Tiger Woods misses the odd 2 foot putt!

Throughout your initial day relax and don't try too hard. In particular, don't worry about the results you're achieving and whether it's taking 2 or 22 hits to get to the green or a dozen putts to hole out.

Golf is all about balance, concentration, and some simple physics and it takes time and a lot of practice to master the skills of the course. At this stage what's really important is to decide whether or not you feel comfortable and are enjoying the experience.

Finally, go and have a cool drink or two in the clubhouse and enjoy the rest of the day. You did well for your first time out.

To learn more about golf colleges or if you are perhaps considering taking some time out to discover the joys of golf through something like one of the many relaxing Phoenix golf vacations then please visit today


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