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How to Play Golf as a Beginner


To an untrained eye, golf seems complicated and intimidating. From the equipment and the rules to the terminology; birdie, double bogey, or eagle; it can be overwhelming to beginners. However, with the right guidance, you can overcome your fears and easily learn how to play golf. 

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This is why we’ve curated this article. By the time you reach the end, you’ll know how to play golf. This includes understanding the type of equipment, dress code, language, rules and more.

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Golf Equipment

How to Play Golf as a Beginner
Golf ball and golf clubs. Photo by Cristina Anne Costello on Unsplash

Having the right equipment is essential for your learning and competition. Here’s what you’ll need to have before stepping on the course.

  • A golf bag in which you place all of your clubs. 
  • Tees to help you prop your ball off the surface for a shot. They’re plastic or wooden.
  • Divot tool to repair marks on the golf course.
  • Ball marker for marking the ball.
  • Golf gloves will enable your non-dominant hand to have a firm grip on the club.
  • Golf shoes and a towel.
  • Golf clubs. You can have up to 14 clubs but as a beginner, you’ll need fewer, for example, the putter, pitching wedge, driver, sand wedge, fairway wood or hybrid. As a beginner, take an experienced friend to guide you through your purchases.
  • Golf balls. You’ll not need many at the beginning, but you need to get the right ones.

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Rules of Golf

USGA rules of golf. Video Credit: United States Golf Association (USGA)

When learning how to play golf, you must go through the rulebook to understand what’s allowed and what’s not. Before you pack up your equipment and head to the course, these are the things you should keep in mind.

Club Limit

The United States Golf Association (USGA) allows a maximum of 14 golf clubs. You might not need to use all of them, but it offers a variety for different situations. Ensure you don’t exceed the limit, otherwise you’ll be penalized by two strokes in every hole. 

The rule was instituted because caddies had a difficult time carrying more than 20 clubs. Additionally, golfers should win based on skill and not because of using superior equipment. 

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How to Play Golf as a Beginner
A golf ball on a tee. Photo by Will Porada on Unsplash

Your ball must be within the tee markers. You can stand outside it as long as the ball is in. If your ball is out of bounds, you’ll receive a stroke penalty. 

Golf Score

Golf scores explained. Video Credit: United States Golf Association (USGA)

As a beginner, you may find golf scores difficult to understand, as the sport uses a different method of calculation. The golf course has a total ‘par’ for every hole. These are the number of strokes needed to sink the ball into a hole.

In a stroke play, the player with the least strokes wins. You can be over par, par, or under par.

  • Being over par means you’ve taken more strokes than required for the course. 
  • Under par means you’ve taken less than the required strokes
  • Par means you’ve used the same number of strokes to complete the course.


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Provisional Ball

If you can’t find your original ball after a shot, use a different ball. That said, if you find your initial ball, regardless of whether the shot was good or bad, you have to play it.

Order of Play

When teeing, the player who appears first on the list starts. During the hole play, the player whose ball is furthest from the hole starts. If this isn’t obvious, a coin flip is done.

Play the Ball Where It Is

You aren’t allowed to move your ball to a favorable position. Wherever it falls, that’s where you play it from. 

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Golf Etiquette

What you should know about golf etiquette. Video Credit: Skins Golf

You want to start your golfing experience on a high. Do the following and you’ll be getting more invites:

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Avoid Slowing Down Play

You need to be aware of the pace of play. You don’t want to be the player who’s taking too long to move to the next hole or take a swing. Analyze your next shot in advance.

Respect other Golfers

When your competitor is playing, don’t get into their line of sight. Maintain the appropriate distance and give them room. 

Keep Calm

Sport is emotive. It’s easy to show your disappointment by shouting profanity or throwing your ball. Refrain from this and practice mindfulness. It’ll help you to remain grounded.

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Learning the Game

How to grip a golf club. Video Credit: Rick Shiels Golf

This is the actual part where you find out how to play golf. To be successful, you must have an understanding of the basic concepts. Let’s begin with holding the golf club.

Club Grip

Your grip on a golf club has a huge impact on your performance. With your left hand, form a V shape with your thumb and index finger while the rest is wrapped around the club. 

Let the fingers of your right hand firmly grip the back of the club. Your right-hand thumb should be on top of your left-hand thumb. Both your thumbs should point to their respective shoulders. 

Aiming and Alignment

After learning how to grip the golf club, the next thing is how to use it effectively. Position the leading edge, the bottom of your club, 90 degrees to your target and stand parallel to the target line.

Standing Posture

Slightly bend your knees forward and position your hands freely in front of you. Keep your feet apart, with the distance between them matching the width of your shoulders. This helped in equally distributing your weight evenly. 

The Golf Swing

If you don’t do this properly, you’ll not have a good shot. So, keep your arms straight, twist to the side and let your feet remain pointed forward. 

As you aim, your arm and club should form an ‘L-shape’. Turn your shoulders continuously until the clubhead is over it and then swing back your body towards the ball for a shot. 

One thing you must always keep in mind is you need to hit the ball first before you hit the ground. 

Golf Shots

Type of golf shots. Video Credit: Golf Monthly

There are several types of golf shots you’ll learn in your journey but these are essentials to your foundation.

Chip & Pitch

When you’re on the greens, you’ll use a chip or pitch shots. A chip tends to travel on the surface while a chip is in the air more than it’s on the surface.

Bunker Shots

This shot comes in when your golf shots lead the ball to the bunker. Your technique will be different from that of the rest of the course. Use the sand to push the ball out but you’ll also need to produce a strong swing and follow through.

Punch Shot

Beginners dream of hitting the perfect shot that travels far and perhaps close to the target hole. However, you should meet your expectations. Start with this type of shot. It won’t produce the glamor of a ball in full flight but will save you from ending up in the bushes. 

Taking Golf Lessons

Practicing is a key component to nurturing your golf skills. You can do this by finding a coach who’ll tailor lessons according to your skill level. He or she will monitor your progress and provide valuable feedback.

Additionally, you can use online videos when learning how to play golf. This helps in reinforcing the knowledge or it can be an alternative for those who can’t find instructors where they are. The downside is that there are many online instructors and you might be tempted to switch from one to the other. 

Find one whose style you like and stick with them. If you can, book an online coaching class and you’ll be on your way to golf stardom.

Learning how to play golf shouldn’t be as intimidating as it appears. With the right instructor, equipment and mentality, you should shake off any hesitancy and begin gathering skills. Once you settle in, you’ll be in for a treat. 

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