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Getting Started

By on May 10, 2013
Learning to play golf

Getting Started in Golf

For the first time golfers, the most asked question is: How do I start ?

The following are some of the answers to this question: where to play, where one can learn how to play, what sort of clubs and equipment are for beginners, what is a handicap, what are the rules of the game, and what is golf etiquette.

Where to play – Golf Courses

We are lucky in Australia to have a large range of golf courses available. Some of the courses are attached to a private golf club. Many of these courses accommodate both club members and casual players.

In general, golf clubs allocate specific days and times for their men and women members. All members are given a handicap when they join. To improve their handicap, members play in the allocated competitions held by their clubs. If they play better than the handicap on the day, their handicap will improve.

Many courses accommodate for casual players, outside of competition hours. However, it is normally after 2.00pm in the afternoon. In summer, you can complete a 18 hole round before night fall. But in winter, it might not be possible, depending on what time you start to play. Also, casual games are not counted in the handicap system.

Some courses are part of a resort, eg Cyprus Lakes Golf Resort. They can offer accommodation and golf packages.

Most courses have club PGA professionals, who can advise you on how to get started and provide coaching.

Some golf courses have women’s beginners programs including clinics and course play. E.g. Cammeray (02) 9953 2089, Chatswood (02) 9419 7138.

Join a club

Golf clubs offer a lot of facilities such as clinics, competitions and prizes. Most of the competition for women golfers happen during the week. Some clubs offer competition for women on the weekends. It is necessary to do some research on the clubs that are available and consider which ones suit you.

Executive women might have problems with joining a golf club and play competitions during week days. For whatever reason, if you find that it is not convenient to join a golf club or play competitions during the week, and you still want to have a handicap, you might consider joining an organisation like the Women’s Golf NSW. They have created the clubs: Womens Golf Club, Business Women Into Golf , Women Into Golf and Iron Ladies. These organisations provides clinics, play at a number of golf courses and some allow you to gain an official handicap. With the official handicap, you can play in any competitions held in an affiliated golf club. There are also 9 hole events for those just starting out or those where time is limited.

Driving Ranges

Driving ranges are a good place to start hitting the balls. You don’t have to worry about losing them!

At the driving range, you pay for a bucket of balls. They usually costs around $6.50 a bucket of 50 balls. You then choose a bay and start hitting the balls into the provided field. There are distance markers on the field to indicate how far you have hit. Most driving ranges open 7 days a week, and some very long hours. The driving ranges are listed in the yellow pages. Most of them have PGA professionals available for coaching.

How to Start

Golf is known to be a highly technical game. Therefore, we highly recommend that you start with learning the fundamentals. To do that, the best way is to have some golf lessons with a recognised PGA professional. For a start, we will recommend a personalised one on one lesson. If cost is an issue, there are some good golf clinics, and provides the alternative where the coach teaches a group (Cammeray, Chatswood, Women’s Golf Club, etc).

The next step is to practice at a driving range. In this game, the basic skills starts from swinging the club, driving (the ball), chipping and putting. Knowing how to get the ball out of the bunker is also useful. Golf is definitely a challenging sport and requires a lot of patience and persistence.

The rewards are there and that’s what keeps us coming back and overcoming our difficulties.

PGA Professionals

For golf lessons, the best is to contact one of the PGA professional coaches. PGA professionals are also available at golf courses and driving ranges. They will advise you on how to start and what sort of lessons that you might need.

They usually cost approx $40 for a ½ hour lesson. It is recommended that ½ hour to 1 hour lessons, at a practice range, will get your swing going. As you progress, lessons are taken at the golf courses, and may be during a round of golf, improving other aspects of the game, such as pitching, chipping, bunker,e tc.

Some professionals offer blocks of lessons at a discount rate or group clinics, e.g. Cammeray, Chatswood. For some of us, is more fun to learn with others.

Golf Club Distances

For the average female. Give or take 10 metres for hilly or windy conditions:

1 wood 160 metres
3 wood 140 metres
5 wood 120 metres
7 wood 100 metres
3 iron 120 metres
4 iron 110 metres
5 iron 100 metres
6 iron 90 metres
7 iron 80 metres
8 iron 70 metres
9 iron 60 metres
Pitching Wedge (PW) 50 metres
Sand Wedge (SW) 40 metres

 

Women’s Golf Australia

Women’s Golf Australia (WGA) is the peak organisation for women’s amateur golf in Australia. WGA is responsible for the management of the handicapping and course rating systems for women’s golf.

WGA have six State Associations – NSW/ACT, QLD, SA/NT, TAS, VIC and WA. The State Associations handle tournaments and competitions in their respective areas with affiliate membership through most golf clubs. They also run a number of programs catering for women golfers.

Clubs and Equipment

Many women started out using somebody else’s clubs, such as their husbands, dads, brothers, etc. Although you can save some money in doing so, most men’s clubs are too long, and the shaft are too stiff for women. Clubs that are too long, are too difficult to control. If you are a beginner, it is advisable to have more “forgiving” equipment to help you along.

Clubs designed specifically for women are usually shorter and the shafts are more flexible. Also, clubs that are made of graphite shafts, are lighter in weight, making it easier to swing.

The later model golf clubs usually have larger heads, making it easier to hit (harder to miss). Most have a cavity backed design which makes them more forgiving with off centre hits. As in most things, buy the best you can afford.

Another way to obtain reasonable golf clubs, is to purchase second hand clubs. This may be a good opportunity to get quality clubs at a reasonable price.

Other accessories that you will require is a golf bag and golf buggy to carry the clubs around. Buggies can be hired at most golf courses. More accessories include golf glove. This is usually for your left hand if you are a right handed golfer. The golf glove helps to protect your hands and allows a better grip of the club.

Golf balls are available in many grades and prices. As a beginner your may loose a lot of balls when playing on the courses, particular when there are bushes and water around. It is advisable to purchase the inexpensive or second hand balls from the pro shops.

Handicap

To enable many players of varying skill levels to compete together a handicap system was introduced. Points are allocated as your handicap when subtracted from your total score give net score.

This net score can then be compared to other players net score. The handicap system is closely administered. Every round played where you submit a valid card will be processed and may adjust your handicap to accurately reflect your skill level.

The handicapping system is calculated differently for women than it is for men. But is becoming standardised for men and women throughout Australia under the control of Women’s Golf Australia. There is a course rating to allow for differences in difficulty and conditions between golf courses. This compliments the handicapping system allowing universal comparison.

To obtain an official handicap you must be a member of an on course golf club, alternatively the Women’s Golf Club of Women’s Golf NSW or contact your state office of Womens Golf Australia.

Rules of Golf

As in all sports there are rules as to how to play the game. Many of the rules describe what to do in the unusual circumstances and the penalties involved.

Booklets of the rules of golf are available at golf clubs, pro shops and book shops. Existing members are very willing to help beginners with explaining the rules, as circumstances arise.

Golf Etiquette

Golf is one of the few games where etiquette is promoted and enforced to make the game enjoyable for everyone. Etiquette is a combination of consideration for fellow players, behavior and sportsmanship.

Some etiquette guidelines are published in club handbooks. Existing members are very willing to explain golf etiquette to beginners.

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