Top 10: Golf course tips for beginner golfers

The Scoop

These simple tips will help you enjoy your round, avoid slow play and give you a bit more confidence about what you should be doing

It can be very daunting for a beginner or casual golfer going out to play 18 holes, particularly if it’s a course they are playing for the first time.

Most beginner golfers or golfers who play to a high handicap are likely to have their focus on hitting the ball properly. That’s understandable and no one expects a high handicapper to flush every tee shot down the middle of the fairway.

Now we’re not trying to have a go here. This is as much an educational exercise to help beginners feel more confident when they go out on to the golf course.

Some of this will also help speed up play and prevent beginners from holding up the groups behind.

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1. Arriving at the golf club

Make sure you are at the course at least 20 minutes before your tee time. I usually wear spikeless shoes to drive in so I don’t have to change my footwear.

If you want to change into a pair of spiked shoes, find the locker room and change them in there. Most clubs won’t have a problem with you changing in the car park but it’s better to have your normal shoes in the locker room so you can go and change them after the round for your drink in the bar.

Also, it’s nice to use the facilities at a golf club. Some locker rooms have loads of character and can add to your experience.

2. Make sure you’ve got everything you need

Check to make sure you have got balls, a glove, tees, a scorecard, pencil, ball marker, pitch-mark repairer, bottle of water and something to eat.

Scorecards and pencils will be available in the pro shop and you can always buy anything else you need.

Asking to borrow a tee off someone every hole will slow you down. I like to put most of the things I will need in my pocket to save me delving into my bag too often.

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3. Get to the first tee in plenty of time

You may even have time to hit a few putts but it’s always best to be at the first tee five minutes before you are due to tee off.

Being late for your tee time has a huge knock-on effect throughout the rest of the course. If you are early and the fairway is clear then crack on.
Although the person furthest away is supposed to play first there’s nothing wrong with the first person to be ready to play playing first” 5. Be ready to play

If you’re second, third or fourth to tee off, make sure you are ready to play when it’s your turn. If it’s a long par-4 chances are you’ll be hitting driver so take your driver out of the bag, head cover off and have your ball and tee in your hand so when it’s your go you can actually have a couple of practice swings and tee off.

There’s no need for anymore than two practice swings. Whoever scored the lowest on the previous hole has the “honour” of teeing off first but don’t make a point of waiting for them if they are not ready. If someone else is ready to play then they should play.

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6. When to play a provisional?

If your tee shot goes into the trees, bushes, gorse, long grass etc. and no one has a good fix on where it came down, hit a provisional. You’ll be three off the tee if you can’t find your ball.

If you feel you have to ask the question “should I hit a provisional?” the answer will always be yes. You can’t just take a drop I’m afraid if you can’t find your ball.

No one wants you to be rushing back to the tee to fire again. Always hit a provisional to be on the safe side and it won’t slow anyone down.

Check the scorecard to see where the out of bounds areas are but these will usually be marked out by white sticks. If your ball goes out of bounds, hit another one off the tee as your third shot.

7. Who plays their second shot first?

The furthest away from the hole is next to play. If you are not the furthest away, again, be ready by selecting the right club and being good to go as soon as it is your turn.

However, there’s no need to be pedantic about it. If a playing partner is looking for a ball in the rough but you are nearer the hole and ready to play, then play. You can always help them after your shot.

Although the person furthest away is supposed to play first there’s nothing wrong with the first person to be ready to play playing first.

8. What to do around the greens?

This is the one area which can cause most frustration to the group behind. Always place your bag between the green and the next tee.

Take your bag round to the right side of the green, then take your putter out and walk on to the green.

Again, furthest away from the hole is first to putt once everyone is on the green.

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If you are nearest to the hole and everyone is on the green then you should take the flag out and place it down gently.

If you are the last to hole out then someone else can be responsible for putting it back.

Don’t mark your scorecards on the green. This can be done while others are teeing off on the next hole or even when walking down the fairway of the next hole.

9. Raking a bunker

If your ball lands in the bunker try and walk through the least amount of sand to get to your ball. Play your shot, then walk back out the the way you came in, pick up the rake and rake your divot and foot prints.

If you are on the green and a playing partner thins their shot over the green, don’t stand there watching them rake the sand. Go and do it for them while they go over and chip on to the green. As with most things in golf, it’s just a bit of common sense.

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10. When to let other players through?

This is one of the most contentious issues in golf but it’s not really that hard. If you are playing in a fourball and you have a two ball behind you, let them play through at the earliest available opportunity.

This could be at the next tee or even on the fairway if one of your playing partners is struggling to find a ball.

If you are on the tee of a par-3 and the group behind are on the previous green, hit your tee shots, go and mark your balls then wave the next group through when they are on the tee.

Always try and be aware of others on the golf course!!

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