Letshego Zulu
4 minute read
28 May 2019
10:13 am

A beginner’s guide to golf

Letshego Zulu

What you will need, and where you must go to begin enjoying this game.


Being a multisport amateur athlete, I can vouch for the fact that one of the sports that can be quite intimidating for a beginner is golf. Yes, I guess it all depends on
your mindset and motivation for starting to play the game, but being a newbie can be quite daunting nonetheless.

From learning all the rules (there are so many and they continue to be revised and updated), to learning the mathematics behind golf, to things like the strict security personnel at the gates of some golf clubs (they hardly smile at visitors), to the strict dress code and skew looks from some members to list a few. And let’s not forget that golf can also be quite costly, depending on how seriously you take it.

But once you have committed to it and got past the jitters of being a newbie, you’re well on your way to a love-hate relationship with your clubs, balls, bunkers, trees, the rough and a few ponds along your journey.

Golf is a mental game that requires commitment and focus. It also requires acceptance, a fairly positive attitude and a good level of golf IQ to help you strategise
and pick the right shots. I tried getting into the sport almost 10 years ago and I didn’t last more than half a year after learning the basics.

At the time, I needed adrenalin pumping types of sport and golf and yoga just weren’t feeding my soul. So, yes, almost a decade later I have found myself at the driving
range and the golf course with my decade old, hardly used but functional golf clubs.

I too fall under the beginner’s bracket for now. As a fairly competitive person, I want to do fairly well so I’ve done my fair share of research. First was signing up at the
well-known World of Golf, seeing one of the professionals for a few start-up lessons and joining a women’s group to make golfing friends.

I did this so I can have a buddy or two to keep me accountable because this sport requires frequent practice. World of Golf offers clubs for you to utilise on site so that you don’t have to immediately purchase a full set.

For beginners, I would suggest using this service until you are 100% sure you want to take the sport seriously. Dress code isn’t as strict but it is advisable to wear comfortable gear and have your own glove to start off with. When you decide you are ready to “take off the training wheels” and head to the greens, you will then need your own equipment.

Golf equipment varies based on experience but the general basics are:

1. Clubs and a bag
A modern set consists of 12 clubs of which three woods, one is hybrid, seven are irons and one is a putter. The clubs are numbered so the woods are numbered one (driver), three and five. The hybrid is the 3H, the irons are numbers four to nine plus the pitching wedge (PW) and the putter with a flat surface. In addition, you can add a sand wedge or a lob wedge.

If you can’t afford a full set to start off with, the minimum clubs that you need are the driver, putter, pitching wedge, sand wedge, the three, five, seven and
nine irons plus the three wood.

This is based on a fairly standard nine or 18-hole game. For the shorter “Mashie” courses that many beginners play to get used to the game, you can get by with a driver, putter, pitching wedge, sand wedge and the seven iron.

2. Shoes
I have found that golf shoes vary. The modern ones now look like running shoes. These can be spike-less or have spikes. The spiked shoes provide traction, but this is not a necessity and depends on your personal preference.

3. Glove
This is important, even for beginners.

4. Appropriate golf attire
The rules are often being revised, but the standard is that men should wear collared shirts with slacks or dress shorts. Women must wear collared shirts with shorts, skirts, capris, dress shorts or slacks. Caps, visors and hats are often worn but are not imperative. Blue jeans and cargo pants with pockets are a no-no.

5. The basics of playing the game
I would suggest that before you head off to the driving range, book a lesson or two (or more) with a professional. He or she can take you through the basics. Generally, the first thing you will be taught is GASP which stands for Grip, Aim (or Alignment), Stance and Posture.

You will use the principles of GASP all the time, for every single stroke. If you can get this right from the start, you are well on your way to becoming a skilled golfer.

There is a lot more to the game of golf, but I don’t want to overwhelm future beginners. So, for now, I’ll leave it right here. The rest you will learn as you practise and play more. Remember this is a game to be played frequently. Golf can be unforgiving if you don’t put in the time. Happy golfing!

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