Golf Etiquette: Three tips for getting invited back!

 

You have done it! Word has gotten around that you are a golfer now and family, friends, or someone from work has invited you to go play a round with them. This is what you have been waiting for, the opportunity to show off how much you have improved. But keep in mind, like with any other game or sport, there are rules and sportsmanship guidelines that keep the peace. This list will give a few tips pertaining to some of the most basic golf etiquette and how knowing these simple rules can help you to sit at the top of the “invitation list” for all of your friends.

  1. Keep your speed up!

I mentioned this in my previous post but I am bringing it up again. I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping with the pace of play. One of the most commonly ignored unwritten rules in golf is this one. I have played behind many a beginner and weekend player that do not know this rule and I can tell you from personal experience that it is infuriating.

In order to keep pace, something I do is making sure to only ever take one practice swing if any, then address my ball and hit it. Last week I was stuck behind a group of older gentlemen who clearly did not know or care about keeping pace. All four of them would take at least 20 seconds (I know this because I started counting after a while) to hit their ball each time. They would take five or six practice swings then stare at the golf ball only to duff it down the fairway about 20 yards and do it all over again. This makes it hard for everyone stuck behind to stay in a rhythm.

Another tip for keeping the pace of play going is to play what is called “ready golf.” This literally means when you are ready to hit the ball, hit it. There is no need to wait for others who may have not hit there ball as far, or may be looking for it in the high grass. Unless we are playing in a tournament for money, there is no need to wait for each player to hit the ball.

  1. Take care of the golf course!

One of the first things that I ever learned about golf was how to take care of a golf course. When I was younger I was shown a video about how to never run on the greens, how to repair ball marks and divots and how to rake the sand straps after walking in them.

Something you may have noticed my now is that golf courses always seem to look

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perfect. How is this possible though with so many people playing on it at all times? Well initially the course is maintained daily by greens keepers that know so much about grass that they literally went to college to study golf courses (turf grass management). Secondarily, the people taking care of the course are the golfers, as they are playing. Fixing divots with a sand/soil/seed mix, which are gouge marks made in the grass after hitting the ball is one of the most important ways of protecting the course. If no one ever fixed his or her divots, the whole course would be a dirt mound within a matter of months.

Similarly, when you have a nice shot and your ball lands firmly on the putting green, there will be a ball mark on the ground where it struck. There are many videos of how to repair ball marks on the green and this is one of the more difficult things to master. In the video link I provided above there is a great example of how to fix a ball mark.

  1. Don’t get hit in the head!

While golf does seem to be a fairly gentle sport, one must keep in mind that we are using blunt objects to strike a ball just about as hard as we can. For a frame of reference, with my driver I have a club head speed, 115mph. This means the speed at which the club passes through the golf ball is 115 miles per hour. To get hit in the head by this would make for a terrible day!

The ball is released from the club head at an even faster and harder rate, so knowing where to stand as not to get hit is very important. Initially, one must never hit the ball toward someone within there range. To put it bluntly, if you hit someone in the head with a golf ball, you can kill them. So never hit into anyone.

Another tip about where to stand pertains to waiting for someone in your group to hit the ball. The safest and most respectful place is in front of them and slightly out of their peripheral vision. Standing in this way shows respect and keeps your life off the line!

We all forget the rules, when in doubt ask!

The Golf rulebook is 182 pages long, so for anyone to have each and every rule memorized would be very impressive and also surprising. Even I am guilty of making up rules when I do not know the real one!

As I have mentioned before, golfers love new golfers, especially if the new golfer is keen to learn and improve. With this in mind, if you are unsure of a certain rule or are unsure what to do in a specific situation, ask! There is nothing better than learning the “hands on” way anyway, and getting a situational type of lesson from a friend is a great way to learn.golf-rules.s600x600

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It’s Time to Play (#3): 3 tips for starting out on the course

Finally, you have your golf clubs and have picked up a few basic skills. Swinging a club feels a bit more comfortable and its time to see what you are capable of on a real golf course. Before you just go out take a crack at it there a few things to keep in mind. If you want to make certain that your first experience on the golf course is a positive one you need to know your limitations and build from there. Here is what you should take into consideration:

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  1. Start small and build from there

There is nothing more frustrating than hacking your way down a long fairway, unable to get the ball to the green even close to regulation time. To start, par 3 courses or what they call “executive 9 hole courses,” are designed specifically for those trying to learn, or simply have fun. They require the player to hit the ball a much shorter distance to the green, making the pace of play much faster and more fun for those who haven’t learned to hit the ball far accurately yet.

Par 3 courses typically have 9 holes consisting solely of Par 3’s. This means that in order to get a par, the player needs to make a put within 3 shots. Par 3 holes are much shorter and a course filled with them can be more enjoyable for someone trying to learn.

An Executive course is one that is specifically designed for people trying to learn. They typically have 9 holes 5 or 6 of which will be Par 3 holes. The other two will be Par 4 holes that are not very long. These courses are made to help new golfers confidence level and create consistency in their game. They are also a ton of fun to play!

 

  1. Choose the right course

As I have mentioned before, this game is very hard. There is no sense in starting out for the first time off the back tees at your buddy’s private golf club. So much of golf is mental, so the last thing you want to do is discourage yourself by choosing a course that is too difficult for a beginner. A good beginner style golf course is one without too many trees, is flat ad wide open, and relatively short in distance. A good beginner course will also not have many hazards, which is any area in which losing a golf ball is likely for example, the water, deep woods, waste areas or drainage areas.

Certain courses that have a lot of trees, or high grass and a lot of water can be very discouraging and also expensive. If you hit your golf ball into these areas many times they are never to be seen again. After a while this can really add up. Each pack of 12 beginner level golf balls is around 25 dollars.

 

  1. Keep Pace

The majority of golf courses are designed for the average golfer to finish 18 holes in around 4 hours. This is only a guideline however as many golfers play at a faster pace. Personally, if the course is empty and I am playing alone I can play 18 holes in 2 and a half hours. One good way of making sure to keep the pace of play going is to only allow yourself a certain amount of strokes per hole. If you surpass you’re given limit there is nothing wrong with picking up your ball and moving on. Even good golfers do this when playing for fun.

Another tip for keeping with the pace of play is to play up from the Juniors/Beginners tees, which are located much closer to the hole. There is no shame in playing from the junior tees when trying to learn the game and it doesn’t mean you are “wimpy” or weak. As a matter of fact in means you are playing smart and accommodating for your skill level. Hitting the ball far does not have so much to do with physical strength either but rather the technique used when striking the golf ball, so move on up with confidence.

 

Enjoy your round no matter what!

These three tips, starting small, selecting the right course, and keeping pace of play are great things to keep in mind when starting out for the first time. It is so important to remain focused and confident while playing golf. The best way to do this is by playing the right way for your skill level. If you can do this, you will enjoy your time on the golf course that much more and only want to continue working on your game!

Getting Into Golf (#2): Three Great Tips for Learning How to Play

At this point you have most likely acquired at least a partial set of golf clubs and are yearning to hit the course and play. You are a blank canvas ready to learn to play golf the right way and without trying to fix old bad habits. While there is much to learn, you can take comfort in knowing that as a true beginner you will be able to pick up on things much quicker than a veteran golfer attempting to fix old habits or problems with his or her swing.

 

One of the most important things to do early on is to try and get an experienced golfer pal, or a golf pro at a course to give you at least one or two lessons. This will set a strong fundamental base for your future golf game and make the whole process of learning less frustrating.

 

  1. Get a Lesson

 

I mentioned before that you are a blank canvas ready to learn how to play golf. As far as learning golf goes, you are in a great position. Typically, many older golfers that have played for a while develop bad habits, and then play with those bad habits for years until having someone try and help. This makes correcting anything wrong with their golf swing much more difficult.

 

For a beginner, it is a much different experience. With the right initial instruction, you will learn the proper way to swing a club, making the game more fun and easier for you. With time as your game progresses, you will realize that these fundamentals that you learned those first few days ever playing set you apart from others trying to teach themselves.

 

Golfers will continue to get lessons throughout their golf careers. I personally just had one last week. I have been having issues with one aspect of my game and wanted to get a “tune up,” as they say. I expect to take many more lessons throughout my golfing life and it only will keep making me better!

 

  1. Create a Practice Routine

 

Golf is a very tough game. Mentally and physically you need to be strong. Part of getting to know your golf game better and to learn what to expect out of yourself, is by setting up a good routine on the driving range. Many good golf pros that give lessons to beginners will teach a good warm up or practice routine that helps each golfer to focus and practice situation types of shots that prepare each golfer for their upcoming round.

 

Just like everything that we do in life involving a routine will create consistency, which is one of the most sought after things in the golfing world.

 

One of the most common ways of working through all of the clubs in your bag at the range is hitting your highest lofted clubs, such as the wedges (these will hit the ball high but not far), and working your way all the way to your lowest lofted clubs like the driver (hits the ball far but not high) hitting each club at least 10 times. Hitting each club, highest to lowest loft allows the golfer to practice hitting different clubs. This familiarized the golfer with how each club will act when it strikes a golf ball. I personally use this very method when practicing on the driving range, with a few minor alterations.

 

  1. Practice your Short Game

 

Statistically, over half of the shots taken on the golf course are within 50 yards of the putting green. With this in mind, golfers tend to practice their “short game” and putting more than anything else. Practicing the short game is an easy thing to do and can be done at any time and any place. If you happen to be at a golf course however, you can take advantage of the practice chipping and putting greens. Here you will be able to practice hitting the ball softly from the grass surrounding the green to the green and into the cup. The more you can do this the better and the best part is it is free! You can chip onto the practice greens at the golf course, or right in your backyard and it wont cost you a dime. These extra short game skills could make the difference in your next round.

 

Another way of practicing the short game, or putting rather, is by putting goofballs inside on your carpet. A short carpet inside can replicate a putting green almost exactly. So take a coffee mug and try to put a few golf balls into while watching the evening news, or a movie!

 

Put in the time!

 

Getting lessons, creating a routine, and practicing your short game are all things that will help you to improve. However, as I have joked about with my friends in the past, there is no such thing as being a naturally talented golfer. In order to become good at this game, you need to practice. The more time you put in, the better you will be. This seems simple and easy, but it is true. There are many sports that athletic people can do very well without ever having played them before. They can do this because their athletic ability and talent get them by. Golf is not like this; it gives each player the opportunity to improve leaving everything in the golfers hands. This is why good golfers get so much respect out on the course, because if they are good, they must practice every chance they get.

Getting Into Golf (series): Three tips for selecting the right clubs

You have reached the first step on your journey to become a golfer! One of the most common questions or concerns for a beginner is what type of equipment to buy. How much money should I spend? How many clubs should I get? Do I need “good” equipment? It is important to understand that “starter clubs” or beginner clubs are specifically designed to help tune a golfer into becoming a better more rounded player. This entails finding a set of clubs that will allow you to improve, rather than buying a “nice set of clubs” that is very expensive. The first part of this series will discuss some of the many options available for a new golfer and show just how economical buying new equipment can be!

 

  1. You only need a few clubs!

 

The USGA (United States Golf Association), allows each player to have 14 clubs in their golf bag during a round of golf. This rule however, is in reference to the maximum. For example, I usually carry 12 or 13 clubs in my bag (although technically allowed more). A beginner should not feel the need to go out and buy 14 clubs, which can end up being pricey, but rather start with the most essential clubs. A few that every golfer will need are the driver, putter, sand wedge, a seven iron and a pitching wedge. Each one of these clubs is designed with a different loft, (how high it will force the ball in the air) and as a result different uses. For the beginner it is more important to become familiar with swinging a golf club and learning how to hit these ‘most used’ clubs. These clubs also have the most “forgiveness” as we call it, which means people seem to have the easiest time getting the ball in the air. From there, a golfer can select more clubs depending on their level, and play style. Anyone can go into a golf store like Golf Galaxy and get used clubs for about 60 to 75 bucks apiece.

 

  1. Do not ‘wing it’!

 

Some of the best advice I ever got when starting out as a golfer was from the father of a friend of mine. He knew I was going to buy a set of golf clubs and told me that whatever I did, I should get fitted first. Depending on a person’s size this can make all of the difference in the world. For a tall guy like me, 6’3’’, the regular size golf clubs had be bent over, which made learning very difficult. Getting a golf pro that works at a store to fit you doesn’t cost anything, and can allow for the new golfer to have the perfect sized clubs, eliminating one of the hundreds of challenges that come with learning this game. It is important to be able to get the most out of the clubs that you select. It is also important to be able to get as many years out of the set as possible. Each golfer advances at different rates and the clubs you initially select may be appropriate for your skill level for years to come, so do your research!

 

  1. Utilize the “beginner club sets”

 

As I mentioned before it is very important to have clubs that are designed for your skill level. The forgiveness of your golf clubs can determine just how precise you need to be when hitting the ball. If you are a beginner, and the clubs being used are too advanced, you will not be able to hit the ball firmly. This is why they make very forgiving beginner club sets, which are designed to help a new golfer learn the feel of hitting a ball correctly. These sets are made to keep the spin rate low and ball flight straight (within reason). They do this by keeping the center of gravity very low in order to allow the club to sweep under the ball like a pendulum. These starter clubs will look much larger, but that is perfectly normal.

 

Each golfer starts with a different skill level. Some people have a natural ability to swing a club and feel comfortable, and others do not. Something that is important to remember is that the people that play this game love seeing new golfers and love to spread knowledge around. No matter what level you are, there is a set of clubs designed for you, and a golf pro, or me, that wants to help you get better!

The Breakfast Ball: Everything Golf Without Breaking the Bank

My name is John Garland, and I’m just a regular 23-year-old guy who loves to play golf. This blog is for other average level golfers, whether looking to get a bit better at the game, or learn how to play all together, this is the place for you!

Playing golf is my favorite thing to do with my free time. Since I began playing I have become progressively more and more addicted to improving. For this reason, I have decided to write this blog for the people who may want to understand, and get into the beautiful game. The blog features tips and tricks to the game as well as golf rules, product reviews, course reviews, golf humor, PGA event reviews, and anything else that may have been sparked by the game. My goal is to keep you interested and excited about golf.

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I can give some good advice when it comes to golf because of the amount of time I put in. Lately, I haven’t been playing as much because of my work and school schedule, but even still, I play at least three days out of the week. I use it as my exercise and I have a blast. I have an 8 handicap (considered to be a pretty good golfer), which has taken me years of hard work to get to. I still have bad shots and terrible days out on the course just like we all do, whether beginners or more experienced players, but I enjoy sharing what I have learned with less experienced golfers and trying to help them grow as players. This is one reason why I do not mind handing out a breakfast ball in the morning!

I also want people to know how accessible golf has become. Not everyone has the time or funds that being a highly skilled golfer requires, so I also want to show that playing once or twice a week on the weekends is cheap, fun, and a great way to relax. There is a funny joke related to this that an older player told me once when I was on the course with him. He said, “If you shoot above a 90 you are doing an ok, job, but if you shoot below a 90 then you have no job.” This is in reference to the fact that in order to be very good at golf, you have to put in hours and may not have time for a real job! I found this to be hilarious.

Finally, I know some great ways to get people into golf. I have personally gotten two of my friends in the past few years from never playing in their lives, to full blown golf addicts like me. It is all about creating the interest and allowing the new golfers to chase the feeling that a low score gives you, or any great shot for that matter.

As I mentioned, I am just a regular guy, I work at a GNC selling vitamins and I am pursuing my degree in communications. I am not rich by any means and I love to play golf. I started about five years ago and haven’t stopped since. These days, especially at the public courses, you will see many regular people like me; forget the common misconception that golf is for rich people and country clubbers. If you join me, I will show you how much fun this game can be, and how many great friends you can make, including many other positive side effects that come along with this great game!