Playing your first round of golf? Here are 6 things you absolutely must know

beginner golfer on putting green

Getting into golf can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be.

Getty Images

Every golfer starts as a beginner. It’s unavoidable! And with the game having so much nuance, it can be tough to get the hang of things at the start.

Golf is an intimidating sport to pick up. Even with the proper guidance, the beginning of your golf journey is fraught with uncertainty. How do I dress? What do I say? Where do I stand? All of these things become second nature, but when you’re new, it feels far from natural.

If you’re new to the game, or looking to pick it up, worry not. Golf might feel intimidating, but you’ll quickly find your place.

Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know for your first round of golf.

1. What should I wear?

The anxiety of your first round starts well before you even leave for the course. You’ll likely be asking yourself, “What should I wear?” Which is totally fair! The dress code in golf can be a bit blurry at times, and the last thing you want is to show up dressed incorrectly.

If you’re worried about the attire, a good place to start is with a collared shirt and flat-front shorts for men, and an athletic dress, skirt, shorts or skort for women. Collars are not required for women at most clubs, but the rules may vary.

If you’re headed to a public course, the dress code might be more lax, and if you’re playing at a private club, there might be more regulations. If you’re in doubt, check the club’s website for more guidance. And if the info isn’t available online, don’t be afraid to call up the pro shop and ask. 

2. How do tee times work?

One thing you’ll hear often in golf is the phrase “tee time.” For golfers, it’s a term that’s a part of the everyday nomenclature. But for non-golfers, it sounds like someone is planning to bring out the kettle and their fine china.

First things first: A tee time is the designated time for you to start your round. If your tee time is at 1:45 p.m., that means you will begin playing ay 1:45. When someone says they are “booking a tee time,” this simply means they are reserving a time for you to play.

How does one go about getting a tee time? Most of the time this process is done via an online booking system, but sometimes you will need to call and book over the phone. Tee times are not always necessary, but if you want a guarantee that you will get to play, you’d be wise to make one — especially during peak times. Think of it like a reservation at a restaurant. Walk-ups are welcome, but a reservation is the only way to guarantee your spot.

3. What should I bring?

Well, for starters, your clubs! Most courses requires players have their own set of sticks, so make sure you’ve got a bag you can play from. (Many courses offers rental clubs; if you’re in need of them, call ahead and ask.)

In addition, it’s always a good idea to have a little cash on you. Golf courses — especially private ones — are armed with service workers who will help you at every step of the way, and it’s always nice to show your appreciate with a little cash.

Beyond that, it’s all personal preference. Personally, I make sure to have water, sunscreen, Advil and bandaids with me every time I tee it up. It’s always good to be prepared.

4. What time should I arrive?

With your tee time reserved and your outfit picked out, it’s time to head to the course. As for when you should get there, it depends.

If you want to have lunch and socialize a bit before your round, 90 minutes is a good bet. If you just want to warm-up a little bit before you play, 45 minutes should suffice. There’s no hard-and-fast rule on what time you need to arrive, but plan on getting there at least 20 minutes before your tee time.

5. Where do I go when I arrive?

After you pull into the parking lot, there are a couple options. At nicer clubs, they’ll often have a circle driveway where you can drop off your bag. But at public courses, you’ll be expected to schlep your bag up to the clubhouse yourself.

After parking and unloading, your first stop should be the pro shop. This is where you will check in and pay for your round. All you need to do is walk in and speak to the attendant behind the desk. Let them know your name, tee time, and, if applicable, who you’ll be playing with.

At some private clubs, you won’t pay at the desk. Instead, you’ll have to settle up with your host later on. Even if this is the case, going to the pro shop and letting them know you’ve arrived is a safe bet. Make it a habit to check in at the pro shop when you arrive and you’ll never go wrong.

6. What should I expect?

Expect to be a bit nervous! The first time doing anything can be nerve-wracking, and golf is no different.

It might feel like people are watching and judging you, but truth is, most people don’t care about your skill level. As long as you keep up your pace, have a good attitude and are generally enjoyable to be around, you’ll fit right in.

Oh, and remember: Everyone was in your spikes at one point. We all know how it feels to be new to the game. No one picks up golf and nails it right away. Just be open to learning and have fun with it. Soon enough, you’ll be teaching the newcomers yourself.

Exit mobile version