For women golfers learning to play golf can be a daunting task, particularly since it’s been primarily a male-dominated sport. In reality, though, golf is a great sport for women; it’s friendly and accessible, fun, and most of all challenging.
Having led two international sporting bodies and spent 17 of my 20 years solely coaching women’s pro golfers and tennis players, I’m uniquely positioned to offer some pretty good advice, especially when it comes to getting the best out of your game.
Whether you’re turning pro, playing for fun, or just starting out, golf has something for every lady golfer; it’s a great way to meet new friends and socialize, it’s great for fitness, and of course, being out in the fresh air can help get rid of the day’s stresses.
I’ve recently started teaching my 11 yo daughter to play golf, and it’s been a fun experience seeing the look on her face when she hits one out of the middle and the priceless look she gives me when I won’t shut up talking while she’s trying to concentrate.
I’m passionate about women’s sports and always have been, so I thought it was about time to share what I’ve learned coaching and pass it on to you. So here are the top tips to get your golf journey off to a successful start.
Let’s get started!
Buying a Set of Golf Clubs
To play golf, you first need? Yep, you guessed it, a set of golf clubs. The set of clubs you end up buying will depend on several different factors, and before you spend absurd amounts of money on the latest clubs and golf bag, you’ll need to answer a few questions.
The first and most important question you’ll need to answer is, what are your goals? Are you starting golf because you’d like to have some fun with friends at the country club? Or are you serious about becoming the best player you can be?
Next, you’ll need to consider how often you’ll be playing? Do you plan on playing a few times a week? Or once or twice a month? And finally, you will need to factor in your budget. Golf clubs can be very expensive, and you want to make sure you’re not overspending on a set of clubs that you just don’t need; likewise, if you’re serious about golf, you’ll want the best possible clubs you can get for your budget.
When you select your clubs, if you’re new to the game, your best bet will be to buy a set of clubs with a soft, flexible shaft. The shaft plays a significant role in the flight and distance of your golf shot, so it’s well worth investing some time researching and talking to as many experts as you can. A soft and flexible shaft helps you get the ball in the air much quicker than a stiffer steel shaft and gives you a little bit more distance.
If you are an experienced player, then a stiffer steel shaft would be better suited for you; these stiffer shafts give plenty of control and are perfect for those women who have fast swing speeds.
Golf shop staff are very friendly and will be glad to help you choose the best clubs for you, but just as with any big purchase, make sure you check around and look for varying opinions and, most importantly, prices.
- The Strata 11 Piece women’s complete golf set is designed for maximum performance right out of the box. Set includes: Driver, 5 Wood, 5 Hybrid, 7 & 9 Iron, SW, Putter, Stand Bag, and 3 Head covers
- Woods (Driver, 5 Fairway Wood, & 5 Hybrid) are specifically designed to give women a great combination of distance, forgiveness and control with clubs that are very easy to hit. A head cover for each is included
- Irons/Sand Wedge: Stainless steel golf irons offer a great combination of forgiveness and control
- Putter: A mallet putter with alignment to help give you incredible accuracy
- Stand Bag: A lightweight and durable golf stand bag that comes with five convenient pockets, an additional cooler pocket, a rain hood and a backpack strap system
Choosing Golf Balls
Ok, so now you’ve got your nice new shiny set of golf clubs, it’s time to purchase some golf balls; but first, I’m going to let you in on a little secret; if you’re a beginner, the best balls are the cheapest.
Chances are if you are new to the game, you’re going to hit your fair share of golf balls into the drink, commonly referred to as the water hazard, and let me tell you, replacing golf balls can quickly become very costly; that’s why you’re better off choosing cheap golf balls.
Another excellent option for women beginner golfers is actually to play with used golf balls. You can find bags of cheap used golf balls at your local pro shop, and to be honest, most of them have only been hit once or twice, so they look and play like a new golf ball anyway.
If you’re really looking to buy the best golf balls, make sure you test as many as possible before choosing. Those ladies new to the game may think that there’s not much difference between golf ball brands, but actually, they vary in price and feel quite drastically. The better golf balls fly further through the air and spin and stop much quicker on the greens; I must admit I love the more expensive golf balls; the feel on the putting greens is second to none.
- React Speed Core
- 342 Aerodynamic Dimple Pattern
- 2 Layer Construction, Ionomer Cover, Mid-Launch, Max Distance, Mid/High Spin, And Softer Feel
- Item Package Weight: 1.25 Pounds
Time to Learn How to Play
So you’re set to go now. You’ve got your new clubs and your golf balls; now it’s time to start getting the most out of your game. Golf is the best game on the planet, period, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge it’s also the most frustrating game on the planet.
Finding a good coach or mentor that can help you learn the basics of the golf swing is critical to your level of play and your enjoyment of the game. Let’s be honest if you’re continually hitting your golf balls into the water hazard; golf will get pretty frustrating pretty quickly.
The key to playing good golf is having realistic expectations and focusing your attention on improving your skillset and enjoying the game; after all, what’s the point of playing golf if you’re not enjoying it? Golf takes years to get your handicap down, and that’s the beauty of the game; it never stops challenging you no matter what level you’re at.
Generally speaking, there are four ways in which you can learn to play the beautiful game of golf.
- Get some private lessons.
- Utilize friends or families who may know how to play
- Join a club or league
- Go it alone
Your golfing goals will be a pretty big determining factor in which teaching pathway you choose to go down, but rest assured; although some paths are easier than others, none of them are a walk in the park.
As a coach, I can tell you this is the best option; ok, so I might be a little bit biased, but in all seriousness, learning the game from a qualified professional will give you the best chance to get your golf journey off to the best possible start. Golf lessons can be pretty expensive, so make sure you factor that in to your golfing budget.
Friends or Family
Finding a friend who can help you is also an excellent way to start learning the basics of the game; maybe you have girlfriends who play at a high level and are willing to help you out, or even your husband might be helpful; although that could lead to disaster both on and off the course. Beware, too, because one thing you’ll find out about golf is that everyone sees themselves as an “expert,” so choose wisely when it comes to taking advice.
Joining a Club or League
Joining a league is a great way to learn the basics while meeting new people, having fun, and keeping fit. At these clubs and leagues, you’ll find like-minded women, many of who have played golf for years and can help you learn the tips and tricks of the trade. Being around others who have a passion for the game of golf is one of the best ways to learn; it’s fun, motivating, and, best of all, stress-free.
Going it Alone
Some women might prefer to go it alone and just learn the game as they go, and to be honest, there is nothing wrong with this pathway. Golf is a game to be enjoyed, and there’s no obligation for you to take lessons or join a club or a league. You can learn a lot, more than you think, and then there’s the added bonus of not listening to every supposed “expert” opinion.
Not to mention the amount and quality of instructional online videos that can go a long way in helping you improve your golf game. Many of the online videos are created by top professional coaches and former PGA and LPGA tour professionals; the videos are easy to follow and are perfect for beginners to the game.
Starting to Play the Game
Ok, so you’ve got everything you need to start playing the game; now, the next step is to hit the golf course and start honing your skills while enjoying the great outdoors.
If you are just starting out, I would highly recommend that you start playing on a designated par 3 course. The par 3s are a lot less intimidating, and the holes are much shorter in length than your traditional full-sized golf course; most par 3 holes are between 100 and 150 yards; make sure you play off the ladies’ tees which are provided; once you improve you can move back to the more challenging tees.
A couple of basic tips on etiquette that you’ll need to adhere to on the course are:
- Deciding on who is teeing off first and
- Playing in a timely manner
Generally, the player with the best score on the last hole tees off first, with the player with the highest score teeing off last. When it comes to timely play, it’s one of the most important unwritten rules of the game. If you feel rushed or aren’t ready to play, simply call the group behind you through; this way, the play keeps on moving, and everyone is kept happy.
When you’re walking up to your ball, it’s best to start your pre-shot routine and think about what type of shot you’ll play and which club you’ll use; this also helps keep play moving promptly.
Learning to Score
When you check-in at the clubhouse, don’t forget to grab a scorecard. A scorecard is not only essential for you to keep score, but it also has a heap of valuable information printed on the back; everything from where the water hazards are to the local rules of the club.
Then you need to determine which tees you’ll be hitting off; generally, you’ll find four sets of colored tees:
- Red tees for ladies and seniors
- White tees for men
- Blue tees for top-level club players and
- Black tees for the Pros
To be clear, you can play off any colored tee you like; but I would highly suggest sticking to the ladies’ tees for the time being, at least until you can improve your game and increase your distance.
Now in terms of scoring, I won’t go into too much detail, but basically, if you’ve taken five shots on a par 5, then you simply write “5” on the scorecard next to the hole you’re playing; this is where the scorecard comes in handy because it will display all the regulations and scoring rules. If you hit into a water hazard or find yourself in an unplayable lie, you’ll need to take a “drop” and add a penalty stroke to your total.
The greatest thing about golf, in my opinion, is that you’re playing against your own best score. Yes, there are other players in your group, but everyone is in the same boat; that’s what makes golf so great; beginners and pros can play in the same group; now, how many sports do you know where you can do that? Can you imagine playing against Serena Williams?
A Brief Overview of the Rules
Golf has so many rules that, to be honest, most professionals don’t even know them all; but luckily, at the club level, there are only a few critical rules that you really need to know.
Now, although the rule book is the size of an encyclopedia, the good thing is that whatever club you are playing at, the rules are pretty much universally the same; even from country to country, the rules of golf are universal.
Let’s have a look at the most basic rules and terms that you need to know and adhere to when teeing it up for the very first time.
- Par: On the golf course, you’ll find Par 3s, 4s, and 5s. A “par” simply means you took three shots to play a par 3.
- Bogey: A “bogey” means you’ve taken one more shot than the hole you’re playing; Eg, you took 4 shots on a par 3
- Birdie: A “birdie” means you took one shot less than the hole suggests; Eg, you took 2 shots to play a par 3
Read our complete guide to Golf Jargon here for more terms used in the game.
Fixing your “divots” is arguably the most important part of etiquette while playing. After you’ve played, you must repair your divot by picking it up and using your sand bucket to replace it. Bunkers also need to be “raked” after playing your shot; Be sure to leave the rake on the outside of the bunker.
If you see a ball mark on the green, you can use your “divot tool” to fix it; you can simply use your tee if you don’t have a tool. Walking on the line of other golfers’ putts is also a big no-no, so check your playing partners’ lines before walking up to the green.
Now, while these rules might seem overwhelming, fear not; Golfers are a friendly bunch of people, and most are more than happy to teach you the rules of the game while you’re finding your way.
Golf is a sport for the fashionistas, but it’s also a sport with some pretty strict dress code regulations. For ladies, it’s imperative to purchase golf clothing that not only meets the dress code regulations but allows you to play and swing with freedom. Stay away from loose clothing, which can actually inhibit your ability to swing freely and rhythmically.
Look for appropriate and suitable clothing for the environment in which you regularly play; there’s no use buying short golf skirts if you’re playing golf in Alaska or vice versa, windbreakers if you live in Florida.
Golf clubs have loosened their dress code regulations in recent years, but check with your club before spending hundreds of dollars on expensive name-brand golf clothing. Remember, golf also gives you the chance to be yourself, so have fun with your clothing and make a statement every time you step out on the first tee.
The 18th Hole
Golf is the perfect game for several reasons; whether you want to tee it up on the LPGA tour or meet new people and learn a new sport, golf has something for every woman.
Remember, don’t get caught up in obsessing over your score; instead, enjoy the great outdoors, get fit and meet new friends; there’s a reason golf is called “a sport for life.”