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November 26, 2017

Hit the green and tee up that swing: Golf for the beginner


So you want to learn how to play golf? There are many angles to the sport of golf and so much to learn. So much that it can be overwhelming if you are starting from scratch. This article will help you on your journey to the LPGA…or just to get you to your local golf course. Ready for some golf? Fore!


Of course you will need equipment. Whether you buy or rent clubs is completely up to you – what you spend will depend on your budget and ultimately your commitment to the game.  Here’s a list of the equipment you will need to get started:

Golf Clubs

 Until you have figured out your swing, beginners may want to consider getting a well-cared for second-hand set of clubs. Aside from a membership, this will be your biggest investment. If you are sure you are committed to learning and don’t want to rent, a second-hand set may be the way to go.  

There is a whole lot of information out there on clubs. Here are the basics:

  • Clubs have three parts – the head, the shaft and the grip.
  • Each set of clubs typically includes woods, irons and putters – each to be used for a different part of the golf game. There are also wedges – specialty irons and hybrid clubs – a combination of the wood head design and an iron length shaft.
  • The clubs are all numbered. Woods and irons are both numbered one to nine. The lower the club number, the farther the ball is meant to go. The higher the club number, the shorter the club shaft is in length.
  • Each club has a different loft. The loft of a club is the angle of its face that controls the trajectory and affects distance. The higher the club number, the higher the loft, i.e., the 7-iron sits at 34 degrees while the 3-iron sits at 20 degrees.
  • Woods are used for distance – when you are 175 yards or more away from the green.
  • Irons are for closer shots – less than 200 yards from the green.
  • Wedges are typically used for accuracy shots like getting out of a sand trap.
  • Hybrids are popular because they give golfers a more forgiving option. They match up closely with the same numbered iron. The loft of the hybrid is the best indicator of distance.
  • Putters are flat-faced clubs that are meant to finally sink the ball into the hole.



Bottom line…what should you have in your beginner’s golf bag arsenal? According to GolfDigest – Golf Beginner’s Guide, you should have a driver (1-wood), a putter, a sand wedge (club with the “S” on the sole), 6-iron, an 8-iron, a pitching wedge and a hybrid with 18-21 degrees of loft.

Golf Bag

Think comfort. If you’re going to be carrying your clubs around the course you will want to make sure the straps are padded and investing in a trolley to wheel from hole to hole is a good idea too. There is always the golf cart option – but what fun is that? Best to be prepared with a comfortable bag.


Golf Balls

Just know that as a beginner, you are likely going to need a good supply of these. Beginners will want golf balls with two-piece construction – significantly less expensive, more durability, spin less, and give a bit more distance. Buy yourself a supply of new balls by the dozen. Or you can often find second-hand balls that are great to have on hand for those shots you know are going to be trouble.


Other accessories

There are lots of other goodies to include in your bag. A glove may help with your grip. Raingear to keep you dry – jacket, pants. An umbrella to keep your bag dry. A towel to clean your clubs could be handy. Scorecards and pencils are a must if you want proof for bragging rights. Tees – you cannot get started without these. Water and an energy bar or two for sustenance. 

Proper attire

Before you leave the house, check the rules for attire at your club. Etiquette is very important and something every new golfer needs to be aware of before heading out.

Dress codes vary by course, with more specific requirements at private vs. public clubs. Most clubs require that shirts have a collar, many have no denim rules, and belts are to be worn with shorts or pants. Golf shoes are not mandatory but most clubs disallow metal spikes on the course and in the clubhouse.


According to InsideGolf, you could be walking anywhere between 8km and 9km per 18-holes of golf. And then there’s all the muscles you use when you are swinging.

Leave yourself some extra time and warm up properly. Some great tips on a full golf warm up routine are provided in this article by ThoughtCo.

With all this outdoor activity, don’t forget to pack water and sunscreen. You’re heading outside for a while so lathering up and staying hydrated are important tips.


The most basic thing to know about scoring in golf is that every stroke matters. Each time you swing the club with the intention of hitting the ball, that counts as a stroke. When your ball is finally in the cup, you add up the number of strokes to total your score for that hole. Your aim is to be the player with the fewest number of strokes overall – so the lowest score wins.

There’s a whole language that is used on the course to describe the score. Here’s a list of terms that you are likely to run across and should become familiar with:

  • Par – the number of strokes an expert player will take to complete a hole or shoot for the course as a whole. The terms that follow describe the number of strokes in relation to par.
  • Birdie – one stroke under par on a hole.
  • Eagle – two strokes under par.
  • Double eagle or Albatross – three strokes under par.
  • Bogey – one stroke over par on a hole.
  • Double bogey – two strokes over par.
  • Triple bogey – three strokes over par.
  • Ace – a hole in one.

Tips to getting started

According to Golfweek, tips for a golf beginner include a proper grip, posture and approach, and swing. But quite possibly, the most important tip is to book some lessons before you find yourself knee deep in bad habits that golfers are always trying to break. Public and private clubs have many learn-to-play offerings, which make for a great social event too.

Oh and why do golfers yell “Fore”? Essentially, it’s a warning that a ball may be coming your way. You may find yourself yelling that to fellow golfers ahead on the course in your early days of learning. All part of the experience!

Find a course near you

Golf Canada can help you find a course near you suited to your budget and ability. Simply click here and get ready to hit the links.


Head to our Golf activity page for more learn-to-play articles like Golf: What’s in it “fore” you and Parts of a golf course: Tee to green and stuff in between.

Find, rate and review golf clubs, learn-to-golf programs, local community offerings and businesses on our Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory

Find or start a golf event, a foursome or a group of golfers to travel with on our SWSCD Hub.

Do you have great golf resources or a story about your group of women just getting started? Tell us about your experience on directly on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando on social media and inspire others to get active. 


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