After over 20 years, I can still remember the first time playing on a real golf course. What I can remember the most is the exhilaration of trying something new, the company I was with, the course I played and yes, those plaid pants I just had to wear. Next was finding out it wasn’t exactly as easy as it looked on TV. Yes, I topped some shots, whiffed a few times and even putted the ball off of the green once, but I managed to hit enough shots well to make we want to keep playing to this day. Here is some advice for those looking to play for the first time:
- The key to playing when you are out on the course is to keep up with the group in front of you. While we all respect the Rules of Golf, your first few times on the course, the only thing you should be concerned about is hitting a good shot, and not holding up the group behind you.
- Use the easier set of tees (white for men, pink/red for ladies). You are setting yourself up for frustration if you play from the blue or black tees your first time out.
- Don’t stand over the ball practicing your swing 20 times. Yes, we all know you want to hit a good shot, but practice BEFORE you get to the tee box. When you’re on the tee, take one or two practice swings then your ready to hit the ball. Same thing when you’re putting too.
- Have multiple balls ready. You will probably lose a few balls in your first round. The Rules of Golf allow 5 minutes to search for your ball, but unless you are waiting for the group in front of you, don’t. Take a look in the general area of where your ball went. If you don’t see it within 30 seconds, drop another ball where you thought it landed and keep on going.
- If it’s taking you way, way too many shots to get to the green, simply pick up your ball and move on to the next hole.
- Don’t worry about your score too much. Remember, this is your first time and you just want to get a feel of what playing golf is all about.
- Don’t worry about the Rules too much. Frankly, you probably won’t even know them that well. If you hit your ball into the water hazard, simply take a drop from an appropriate place and keep going. If you can’t get your ball out of the sand trap, simply throw it out. You are NOT going to find this kind of advice in any book, but believe me, your partners and the groups behind you will appreciated it. AFTER your round, review the various situations you found yourself in and determine how the rules would’ve applied, so next time, you’ll know what to do.
You will find that most golfers are going to be courteous and supportive, AS LONG as you don’t hold up the game. So good luck and most importantly have fun! If you do, chances are you will be coming back to play more. Remember, each time you go out it will become a little easier and you will eventually learn more of the rules as you draw from your and your playing partner’s experiences.
by Jeff Summitt
Hireko Technical Director