Trying anything new can be intimidating the first time — such as sky-diving, for instance. (Although we’ll admit that success versus failure is fairly clear-cut and recognizable in that case.) While most endeavors are less life-threatening than jumping from a plane, even playing golf can be intimidating right out of the gate. Therefore, golf clubs offer ways to introduce new golfers to the game that are designed to make it fun and not chase golfers away before they have a chance to discover the joy of the game.
Although most golfers are male, women also love the game, and many boyfriends and husbands want to get the women in their lives interested in the game. But for many new female golfers, playing 18 holes of golf with men is intimidating, no matter the skill level. According to Ray Vennewitz, head golf professional at North Oaks Golf Club, beginners should be made to feel comfortable when they come to the course. And playing in a more social 9-hole league can help them accomplish that.
Making Golf Approachable
“It is important that they have fun and don’t feel pressure when they are on the golf course,” Vennewitz says. “The formats for beginning women golfers should be very fun; the last thing that we want them to feel is that they need to be competitive and worry about their score. We want to make sure that they play with other women who they are comfortable with and who they can have fun with.”
Golf courses everywhere provide the perfect antidote for first tee nerves and a round filled with anxiety: a social women’s league playing on a nine-hole course. Finding a nine-hole course to play isn’t that difficult. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), 90 percent of U.S. golf facilities offer nine-hole rates, and there are 4,200 nine-hole courses throughout the U.S.
Fewer Holes, Less Pressure
Generally speaking, if an 18-hole course has nine-hole rates, chances are good they also have nine-hole leagues. But at North Oaks Golf Club, they’ve taken things a step further when it comes to making the game accessible to beginners.
“We have learned a lot the past couple years,” Vennewitz says. “We started a nine-hole league three years ago in the evenings for women who worked. But we didn’t do a good job in separating the beginners from the more experienced golfers. This year we are offering two separate opportunities for our women. Our social league is going to be called “Social Six.” It will be six holes of golf at 6 p.m. on Wednesday nights. The key is that the women can sign-up to play with who they want. The events will be very low key and fun.” Perfect for the less experienced golfer, the Social Six offers a chance to play the course in a relaxed, pressure free environment. Every week features a fun team game where the women can socialize and grow their skills.
Vennewitz says they offer “Nine and Draw” events for more skilled and competitive women, but those skills develop over for the beginners. The NGF says that 86-percent of new golfers start with nine-hole rounds. That’s the best way to get into the game without getting overwhelmed by the pressure of playing 18 holes on the course with others who are used to doing so. Your ability, pace of play and just general knowledge of the sport won’t be up to speed with them early on, so it may cause you to perform below your (and their) expectations.
“Most of the women that are just beginning to play golf are in the same boat, they feel a lot of pressure when they begin to learn how to play golf,” Vennewitz says. “By joining a social league and meeting other women who are feeling the same way, I believe it really makes it easier for them. It is important to make the league really low key, fun and non-competitive in nature to make sure that the women feel comfortable playing golf.”
A nine-hole social league at your local course is a great way to start.