20 tips for new golfers, from fellow golfers

Golf can be an intimidating sport to begin playing. Let us veteran golfers help you out.

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Droves of new golfers have been taking up the game in recent months, as golf establishes itself as the ideal social-distancing sport for the modern era.

So, I put the question to members of our How To Hit Every Shot Facebook group, a free instruction group that you can join yourself right here. Here’s what they came back with:

1. Don’t become a range rat

This is actually great advice. Always remember that while the driving range is great practice, don’t get too comfortable there. Don’t be afraid to hit the course!

2. Taking lessons is worth the money

Equipment upgrades are great and necessary, but sometimes, rather than spending $100+ on yet another item, spending that money on a lesson can pay big dividends.

3. Start with chip shots

Starting with short chip shots, when you’re an ultra newcomer, can be helpful in learning the basic (and most important) foundation of the golf swing: Learning how to put the clubface on the golf ball.

4. Get familiar with basic etiquette

I’m not going an etiquette stickler. But it’s important to learn some of the basic things. That way, you won’t step in my line.

5. Master your grip

Starting with a good grip, like you see above, is so important. A bad grip can cause so many issues in your golf swing.

6. Get “fitted” for clubs

You don’t need to get fit right away, but once you start to get serious, poorly-fit clubs can cause long-term issues in your golf swing.

7. Keep your head down on putts

Get used to listening to the ball go into the hole without necessarily looking up to see it drop.

8. Aim for the center of the green and not the flags

It’s true for the pros, and it’s true for beginners, too.

9. Have a short memory

Bad shots will come. They’ll come often. That’s just golf. Don’t take them too seriously and don’t dwell on them. Get a few lessons.

10. Don’t bounce around coaches

Find a coach you like, of course, but once you do, stick with them. Don’t go bouncing around looking for a quick fix.

11. Find your tempo early

Good tempo, aka the speed and rhythm with which you swing the golf club, can cover for a lot of ills early. Swinging fast is fine, but as long as you’re always swinging smoothly.

12. Patience

There’ll be days when you play that will leave you wondering why you play at all. There’ll be times when you feel like you’re not improving. Golf is a strange game, but say patient and it will always reward you.

13. Don’t play hero ball

Hit the shot you know you can hit, not the one-in-10 shot that you are capable of hitting. Golf is a game of misses.

14. Always stay balanced

When you’re starting out, swaying back and forth in your golf swing will only make it harder to put the clubface on the ball. Stay balanced during your swing, and always make sure to stick your finish.

15. Pick up after eight strokes

Play golf however you want, but if you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid of picking after eight shots. Don’t feel obligated to finish every hole, just go out and have fun trying to hit good shots.

16. Tee it forward

This is important for all golfers. Most courses have a number of different tee boxes. Play the right ones for your ability, and when you’re starting out, that means teeing it forward.

17. Find a book as a guide

There are a ton of great ones; here are a few of my favorites.

18. Never forget the fundamentals

Nailing down your setup will fix issues in your golf swing before they even arise.

19. Play fast and don’t lose your temper

Most golfers don’t care how good you are at the game. You can be a great golfer and a fun golfer to play around with. Keep your temper under control and play fast. Then you’ll be a joy to play with.

20. Have fun

The most important one. It’s just a game; it’s supposed to be fun. Enjoy yourself, and enjoy the journey!


Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.