Teeing Off: A First Timer's Guide to Playing Golf
How to get Golfing without Throwing a Tiger Woods-Style Tantrum
By Nicole Wray
From getting the gear to getting the ball in the air, we found out how to get greens-ready from Susan Buckley, a CPGA-certified teaching professional who has introduced hundreds to golf at Toronto's Polson Pier Driving Range.
Golfers may carry a maximum of 14 clubs with them on the greens, but for first time golfers, a set of about five-to-seven clubs will do. Buckley advised shopping around before selecting the right set. With some wiggle room, beginners can expect to spend from $300 to $500 for a set of quality starter clubs (this cost often includes a golf bag).
Depending on the season and brand, you're likely to find deals at a big box sports store, such as Sport Chek, or a golf specific shop, such as Golf Town. The options will be overwhelming, said Buckley, so be sure to enlist the help of a knowledgeable sales associate who will help you select the correct size, brand and style of clubs for the type of golfer you intend to be. Although not necessary for beginners, once you've settled into your swinging style, you might want to add golf shoes and a glove to your course kit.
Learn with a Lesson
"Don't begin with a bad experience," Buckley cautioned. Taking a lesson as soon as you've got your clubs will help you get the ball rolling in the right direction and save you from picking up any bad habits that will be tough to change later on. "Lessons help to eliminate the frustration and uncomplicate the game," she explained.
Look for a golf course or driving range that staffs a CPGA teaching pro and ask about lessons for a first-time golfer (you can search for a teaching pro in your area on the PGA of Canada website). Taking at least one lesson will get you started on the right foot by helping you learn the fundamentals, such as how to grip and use each club, how to navigate the greens and how to observe course etiquette.
The CPGA also offers a Get Golf Ready program (check their website to top see if it's offered in your area) which packages five lessons from a teaching pro for $99 (pricing may vary depending on the course it's offered at).
On the Greens
"Starting on the driving range is ideal," Buckley said. Move your game to a golf course once you can consistently get the ball in the air and are less likely to damage the greens (and your ego). The USGA offers an easy-to-understand video series that outlines the (many, many) rules of the game, which become more important as your skill level increases.
According to Buckley, you should choose a 9-hole course to start, read up on the course rules and dress code to avoid any fashion faux-pas, and remember that "you're not going to play, you're going to practice." Have fun learning to navigate the course and don't let scores or lost golf balls (there will be lost balls, so be sure to pack extra) get in the way of enjoying a day on the links.