How to Learn to Play Golf

By Sharon Penn
Start learning golf from a teaching professional to ensure a proper framework for your game.
Start learning golf from a teaching professional to ensure a proper framework for your game.

Golf is a sport that is steeped in tradition, and it can be intimidating for a beginner to take that first step toward learning how to play the game. From basic swing techniques to golf etiquette and proper attire, there is a lot to learn. Fortunately, getting started is easy if you go to a PGA teaching professional right at the start.

Learn the difference between the golf clubs you will be expected to use on the course, such as woods and hybrids for long shots, and irons and wedges for shorter shots like pitches and chips. A putter is used around the hole. Golf rules allow you to carry 14 clubs in your bag, although you may end up with 13 or fewer at first. You can borrow or rent clubs when you begin your lessons.

Sign up with a PGA teaching professional to learn the basics of the game. A pro will show you the correct swing while explaining some of the finer points of the game, such as course management, club selection and etiquette on the golf course. Ask about any terminology you don't understand, such as a "dogleg" to describe the contour of the fairway or "hitting it fat," suggesting that you took a divot before hitting the ball.

Learn the correct setup from the pro. For a tee shot, use the proper grip, place the ball off the inside of your front foot, and assume the right posture with your knees slightly bent and your arms hanging down from the shoulders without tension. Square the club to the pin. Look at the target, and take the contour of the fairway and wind conditions into consideration as you visualize your shot.

Take the club back by turning your shoulders around your spine. Your lower body remains stable as you make the turn. Your wrists will be cocked at a 90-degree angle by the time your arms are parallel to the ground. Maintain that angle and your balance during the downswing. The body, arms and hands work together smoothly as your weight shifts to the back foot.

Begin the downswing and move your belt buckle toward the target as fast as possible to generate a faster swing speed to create distance in the shot. Your arms will be extended on impact to create centrifugal force, which also adds to the swing speed. Hit the ball in the center of the club. Hit through the ball and follow through with your front heel down and your back heel up as your weight shifts.

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