Wednesday, January 18, 2012

5 Things to Know Before Playing Golf

Golf is an enticing yet daunting sport, and learning the basics takes time, effort and patience. Developing consistently good swing mechanics is the greatest challenge. Once the newcomer starts striking the ball with reasonable distance and accuracy, golf becomes a far more enjoyable activity. Then the beginner is ready to head out to the course.
Step 1
Take introductory lessons from a capable teacher. Less-expensive group lessons are a good way to start. A good instructor can teach you the swing basics, help you get comfortable with various clubs and give you the encouragement to get through this trial-and-error process. A beginner without ingrained bad habits can pick up the swing mechanics fairly quickly.
Step 2
Get a starter set of used golf clubs. Your instructor can advise you on selecting beginner's equipment. You eventually will learn which clubs are better for you, but there is no point in spending big money starting out. "Golf Digest" recommends starting with a driver, a putter, a sand wedge, a 6-iron and an 8-iron. Also, a pitching wedge and a fairway wood or hybrid with 18 to 21 degrees of loft help beginning golfers get the ball into the air.
Step 3
Head to a local driving range between lessons and hit a bucket of golf balls. You will need many repetitions until your swing feels more natural. "Golf Digest" recommends starting with half swings with wedges or short irons to get loose. Increase the length and speed of your swings, then move on to your middle irons. Work your way up to the driver.
Step 4
Work on your short game. About half your shots in a given round will come from within 50 yards of the green. Practice short wedge shots in your yard or a park, out of harm's way. Try to hit golf balls into a bucket from different lies. This is a good exercise for learning the pitch shot. Develop your putting stroke on putting greens. Practice with one ball, putting until you finally hole out. Then start over, moving to a different distance and slope.
Step 5
Start playing on smaller par-3 courses. This is a good way to put your freshly learned skills to work and begin learning the tactical side of golf. As you get more comfortable with your game, move up to more challenging courses.

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