If you're new to the sport of golf, your first time on the course can be intimidating. It may seem like there's an endless list of rules and etiquette to keep track of, or that it's impossible to know what club to use without a professional caddy. The good news is that there are some simple strategies you can use to make your first round more enjoyable and less stressful!
We’ve asked Donna Hoffman, Founder of Women on Course, to share her best tips to make your first round of golf less intimidating.
1. You are good enough.
One of the best tools a golfer can have in her bag is the right measure of confidence. If everyone waited until they had the golf skills to play like a pro, our golf courses would be nearly empty. It’s more important to be prepared and knowledgeable about the game than how well you swing a club. When you consider that about 90% of all golfers are not able to break 100, it’s reassuring to know that for your initial rounds of golf you will have plenty of company.
2. Dress the part.
Feeling good about how you look is an easy way to put yourself in the right mindset for the game and send the signal you belong. Golf has a specific dress code, but feel free to kick it up a notch and flaunt your personal style. Dress like a golfer, feel like a player!
3. Understand the culture.
Golf is a sport with a culture all its own and many practices are not so obvious. When you first start playing, it may feel like showing up and hitting the ball is all you need to do. However, there are a number of unwritten rules and traditions that players are expected to follow. Avoid feeling like an outsider and come prepared with a basic knowledge of the lingo, etiquette and rules.
4. Choose the golf course.
Not all golf courses are created equal. Selecting the best time and place to play your first round will help reduce the intimidation factor.
Choose a golf course that has “beginner friendly” features. Look for a course with a thoughtful tee box placement for newer players, wide open fairways and a shorter overall distance. Courses with higher price tags tend to indicate a more challenging design and signal peak playing periods.
Avoid busy time periods to reduce the stress of players behind you waiting for your group to clear the hole. Schedule your round on a weekday afternoon or at the end of the day when player volume is typically lighter.
5. Set the expectation.
The first time I walked up to the tee box, I could see the eye rolls from the men. I was already nervous and the added pressure from my playing partners only added to my fear. What I learned from that experience is that these golfers expected me (as a woman) to be a terrible and slow-down play. In reality all I did was impress them when I hit great shots, practiced proper etiquette and kept up with the group. Conversely, I expected all men out there to be great golfers. All they could do was disappoint when they hit a less than stellar shot. Keep that in mind ladies – the odds are in our favor!
Take the pressure off and give yourself realistic goals for your first round of golf. Inform your playing partners right up front how you plan to play so you don’t feel the added stress of living up to their expectations. Focus on being a responsible and respectful player and keep an open mind on what it means to try something new.
6. Ditch the scorecard.
Set yourself up for success! During a recreational round of golf, it’s acceptable not to keep score or follow the rules of golf. (Yes, you heard that right!)
To experience the game with confidence and enjoy moments of glory, let your group know you plan to play your own way. Feel free to pick up a bad shot and drop your ball in a better spot. You will find most golfers supportive and they’ll appreciate your effort to keep the pace of play moving.
With these tips in mind if your first round of golf seems intimidating and overwhelming, remember you are playing golf to relax, have fun and spend quality time with friends. Success is measured by your enjoyment!