How To Play Golf
This site last updated on Monday 20th of October 2014
A Complete Beginners Guide To Your First Day On The Course
Congratulations on your decision to try this great game!
Many people get hooked on this game very quickly and spend the rest of their lives having fun and trying to master it.
Learning how to play golf will be a fun experience but without the proper training it can be a frustrating game.
Fortunately for you, this site will give you the tools you need to improve your game much faster and easier than those that have not found this instruction.
In this article I will not attempt to give you all of the official rules of golf as established by the USGA.
I do have a link to that information in the right sidebar but for our purposes it is definitely not necessary to read them.
Golf can be played by very strict rules or by relaxed rules determined by the golfers as they get ready to tee off.
Remember golf should be fun! As long as everyone is playing by the same rules and are being mindful of the other golfers on the course the rules can be a little flexible.
I do highly recommend that you go to a practice range and practice your swing before actually playing golf. If you have never hit a golf ball before this is going to be an eye opener. Trust me!
The General Rules of Golf
The rules of golf can be fairly complex but for the first time golfer playing a friendly game they can be quite simple.
The game of golf has many variations, stroke play, match play, skins etc. but for the purpose of this instruction we will stay with “stroke play” since it is by far the most common game played by the average golfer and those at professional tournaments. Including the Majors.
Basically what you are trying to do is put your ball in the cup in the least number of strokes.
At the end of the round the person that has the lowest score wins. Pretty simple right?
Well it is. Each individual hole is made up of 3 components the tee box, the fairway and the green, with various hazards thrown in, like water, sand and trees.
Each stroke of any club is counted as 1 stroke. A 250 yard drive counts as 1 stroke the same as a 3 inch putt.
Heading To The Course
A lot of courses will require you to call ahead for a tee time. Some will allow walk ons. When you get to the course you will tee off according to your tee time.
If the course allows walk ons you will simply get in line on the first tee and wait your turn. First come, first served.
When to Tee Off
You can tee off if no one is in front of you or when you determine that the people in front of you are far enough ahead that there is no way you can hit them.
Once everyone has teed off the person that is furthest from the green will be the next to hit. Be careful not to get out in front of the person hitting the ball.
Under some circumstances if you are on the opposite side of the fairway and you can watch the person hitting, you can proceed with caution to your ball if you determine that you will not be hit.
On The Green
The person furthest from the cup putts first.
A person on the green with a long putt may request that you leave the flag in to help them see the hole.
If this is the case you must be near the flag and be ready to pull it out before the ball reaches the cup.
Once everyone has putted into the hole replace the flag and proceed to the next tee.
You have just finished your first golf hole!
What To Expect
Most golf courses will insist that everyone in your group has their own set of clubs.
The reason for this is that you will often be hitting your ball from opposite sides of the fairway and it would be way too slow for players to share clubs.
If the person you are golfing with has not lent you a set of clubs to play with, most if not all golf courses will have a rental set available to you.
These clubs are generally not of very high quality but for the first time player they will do.
When you arrive at the course you will enter the clubhouse and pay for your round. You will determine how many holes you are going to play, 9 or 18 or more and pay accordingly.
Many courses will also give you an option of renting a golf cart to drive. This option is a personal choice and the cost is usually shared by the 2 people in the cart.
At this point you will head for the first tee and await your turn either according to who was there first or by the official starter.
You will start on the first hole and tee your ball up for your first shot. Each tee box will have a set of markers or multiple sets of markers to indicate where you should tee your ball.
Always tee your ball between and behind the markers. The reason for this is that the course managers will move the tee area around in the tee box to allow grass to re-grow.
The reason for multiple sets of markers is to add more challenge to your round by moving you further back or to allow women golfers to move closer to the green.
You may choose the set of markers you want to hit from. Most golf courses will have a set of women’s tees placed ahead of the men’s tee.
Maximum Number Of Golfers
The maximum number of golfers allowed in a group is 4. Occasionally if the course in not busy or under other circumstances the course may allow 5 golfers in a group but this would be sort of rare.
The club you select will be determined by the distance your ball needs to travel. Longer less lofted clubs will hit the ball farther with more roll while the shorter more lofted clubs will hit the ball a shorter distance and with less roll.
The First Tee
On the first tee decide on the rules you will all follow. How will you handle a ball hit out of bounds?
What about a lost ball? (In the interest of speeding up the game for a new player it is best if you just place a new ball on the fairway near where your original ball was lost)
Are you going to allow a mulligan?
What Is A Mulligan?
A mulligan is a “do over” A mulligan is not legal under the official rules of golf but is common during friendly games. If you hit a bad shot you simply tee up again and hit another shot with no penalty.
The most common mulligan rule is that it is used only on the first swing of the game.
The mulligan rules are determined before the first shot is taken. Here are some variations.
Only on the first shot
1 mulligan per nine holes.
1 mulligan per nine holes but only on the tee.
1 mulligan per round.
Pars, Bogies,Birdies and Eagles ?
Each hole in golf is assigned a “par”. That simply means that you are expected to get your ball in the hole in that number of shots.
If the hole is a par 3 you will try to get your ball in the hole in 3 shots or less. Generally you are allowed 2 putts after reaching the green so the par of a hole is determined by the length of the fairway.
For example if the hole is 130 yards away most golfers would be expected to be able to hit the green in 1 shot leaving 2 putts to get their par. This would be a par 3.
If the hole is 330 yards long, no one is expected to hit the green in 1 shot so you would be allowed 2 shots to reach the green and 2 putts to make par. So it would be a par 4.
Now, most people do not hit par on every hole. Sometimes you will be under par (a great hole) or you will be over par (a, not so great hole).
If you are on a 150 yard par 3 hole and you hit the green with your first shot and then make your first putt you have just scored a birdie! A birdie is 1 shot under par.
If, on the same hole, you take 2 shots to hit the green and 2 putts or any combination of shots and putts that add up to 4 you have just bogied that hole. A bogie is 1 shot over par.
If it takes 5 shots to get in the hole you have double bogied and 6 shots you have triple bogied etc.
So what is an eagle? An eagle is 2 strokes under par. Let’s say for example on a par four you hit your drive half way to the hole and your next shot goes into the hole, you have just scored an eagle.
Golf Etiquette In The Tee Box
Once your golf partner has set up for his or her shot you must stay completely silent and still until they have taken their swing. This rule applies whenever someone is taking any type of shot.
Stand back far enough that your partner will not be concerned about hitting you with their swing.
Never drive a golf cart onto a tee box.
Etiquette On The Green
Always stay still and quiet when others are putting.
Be ready to putt when it is your turn.
Do not walk across another golfers putting line. Leaving a foot print between their ball and the cup could affect their shot.
Never drive a golf cart too close to the green and never onto the green. Check with the course rules for how far you should stay away. Pull carts and bags should also be left off the green.
If your ball is between the hole and another players ball you should mark the location of your ball with a coin or ball marker and pick up your ball until after they have putted.
Always be mindful and courteous to other golfers on the course.
Keep up a fast pace. Golf is not a sprint and you should take your time when hitting your ball but don’t waste time in between. Always be ready to hit when it is your turn whether on the tee in the fairway or on the green.
If you are struggling and taking too much time, you may want to pick up your ball and place it on the green or move to the next tee.
Move off the green as soon as everyone has finished putting. Do not stand around talking or look back at the fairway counting your strokes.
If you lose a ball do not take too long looking for it. Place another ball on the fairway and continue playing.
Fixing A Divot
On occasion a golfer will hit the ground during his or her swing and take up a big chunk of grass and dirt. This is called a divot.
When this happens always pick up the grass and clump of dirt and place it back in its original location. It will re-establish itself and continue growing.
Fixing A Ball Mark
When hitting a high shot to the green your ball will sometimes leave a dent in the green. This is called a ball mark. Use a tee or ball mark tool to carefully dig around the dent and tamp it back flat with your foot or the sole of your putter.
If space has opened up between your group and the group ahead of you due to your slow play and you have a faster player or group behind you it is a good idea to let the faster group or player play through.
This can be done in different ways. For example if you are a foursome and a single player is behind you simply wait at the next tee for that faster player to catch up and let him or her go ahead of you.
You can also tee off together and then let the single player go on ahead on the next hole.
A 3rd option if you are already in the fairway or on the green is to step off to the side and wave them on letting them hit.
Be sure you watch them hit and keep track of the flight of the ball so you will not be struck by their ball.
You will then let him or her pass.
Yes, people really do yell “Fore”! on the golf course. If you hit an errant shot that looks like it may come close to hitting another golfer you are required to yell “Fore”! loud enough for them to hear you.
This will give them time to react and take cover.
If you are on the course and you hear someone yell Fore! do not turn to look for the ball. If a tree is handy duck behind it or at the very least turn your back to the direction of the yell and cover your head.
It is not common to be hit by a golf ball while golfing. I have been golfing for about 37 years and have never been hit by a ball.
That’s about it for the basics. I hope I have given you an idea of what to expect on your first outing.
Remember, If you are just starting out, don’t take this game too seriously. Go out there, have some fun and enjoy the day!
How To Play Better Golf!
Do you want to know the official rules of golf? How to hit a driver? How to hit your irons? Do you need more distance? Do you want to know how to grip a golf club? Maybe you are looking for some putting tips or want to work on your short game, tee to green?
Do you need some swing tips? Do you need to cure a slice? Or a hook?
Are you looking for some golf fitness tips? Does your back hurt from golfing?
Would you like to learn some new golfing games?
How about how to calculate your handicap?
I could go on and on but the point is if you want to learn about the game of golf, how to improve your game and how to have a whole lot more fun playing, you have come to the right place!
Remember there is not one perfect swing for everyone or one perfect grip for everyone or one perfect way to golf. As with any sport or physical activity there are many different variations and you will need to find what works for you.
That’s where this site will be the most help.
If you are a beginner and just learning how to play golf you will greatly accelerate your learning curve by following the basic golf training provided here.
If you have been golfing for a while you can use the posts on this site to refine and tweak the parts of your game that need the most help.
Whether you are trying to figure out how to hit your driver, your irons, work on your chipping and putting or would like some info on getting out of the sand trap this is the place to be. If it’s golf related I can help you.
This site is always a work in progress. I will be adding content on a regular basis with the goal of creating the best site you will ever find to help you achieve your goals: improving your game and having more fun!
Most of the golf instruction on this site will be accompanied by video because I believe it is so much easier to learn golf from a video than it is to try and understand the concepts from pictures or text alone.
Take a look around this site and come back often. I truly believe your game will get so much better in a very short period of time if you incorporate these training instructions into your next visit to the driving range and on the course.
What not to do!
So many people decide to take up golfing and never learn “How to play Golf”. Usually what happens is they go golfing or to a driving range with a friend or relative and just start swinging away. Usually with some really bad advice from the person they are with.
This is not the way to do it!
Many golfers I know have spent years on the course never learning how to properly swing a club and never getting any better!
That has all changed for me now and since you have found this site it is about to change for you too!
Follow the links at the top of this site to get started and then work your way through the rest of the site by reading the current posts or finding your specific topic of interest in the right side menu.
A little time reading and watching videos on this site and a couple of trips to the driving range will have you wishing you had done this a long time ago.
A fun Variation
Here is a fun variation to the standard stroke play golf that most people play when getting together with their golfing partners.
It’s called match play. And the difference is that you play for a hole at a time instead of adding up all of your strokes at the end of the game to find a winner.
For example: If you shoot a 4 on the first hole and your rival shoots a 5, you win that hole. At the end of the round the person that has won the most holes wins.
Ties are just ties and are not counted.
The fun part of this game is that even if you have one bad hole where you hit 2 balls out of bounds you still have a chance to win in the end instead of being out of the running with the one bad hole.
Here’s a funny video to illustrate how ridiculous some golf instruction can be. This guy is spoofing some of the golf training you may run into on the internet and it’s pretty funny but believe me, golf does not have to be this complicated.
Keep Practicing and have fun!