Skilled golfers make the game look easy, their effortless swings perfectly striking the little dimpled ball, driving it into the air with uncanny accuracy. The allure of the game for beginners starts with one simple thought - “it looks so easy!” And then they put a club in their hand for the first time and all of a sudden what looked so easy becomes exceptionally complicated. The grip, the stance, keep your head still, don’t look up, the rules, etc. Barriers to enjoying this wonderful pastime pop up all over the place! So, how do you get past these roadblocks to learn the game? Or if you’re introducing the game to someone new, what are ways to help make that outing fun and memorable for all the right reasons? We have a few suggestions:
Forget the score
There's a time for keeping score and there's also a time for forgetting it, like when you’re just learning the game. Let’s face it, if you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you're not joining the PGA Tour any time soon. Heck, you or your new playing partner is not even thinking about playing competitively. As a golfer’s skills improve, keeping score is an easy way to measure progress, but if you’re introducing someone to the game, simply celebrate the good shots and don’t dwell on the number of strokes played.
Don’t worry about the rules
One of the beautiful aspects of the game of golf is the honor system and being accountable for your mistakes. This is why the United States Golf Association (USGA) has compiled an entire book with the rules of golf. There is certainly value in learning these rules, but adhering to all of them as a novice can be overwhelming and drive some people away from the game. Focus on the positives and enjoyment of the time together outside, rather than the rules that competitive golfers live by.
Play a Scramble format
One of the easiest and least intimidating ways for a new golfer to learn the game is in a scramble format. This is when all golfers play from the best shot of the foursome. For example, all four golfers tee off and as a group you select the best shot and everyone plays from that location. This continues until the group putts out. This way, the new golfers are typically playing from better locations and hitting easier shots. Plus, everyone in your group experiences success and struggles together, taking the pressure off the new player.
Stop when you’ve had enough
As legend would have it, when former tennis great Jimmy Connors was learning to play the game as a child, his mother would take him home at the peak of his enjoyment. This made the young Connors long for the game even more. In a similar way, golf is a wonderful family game you can play for years together. So, especially with children, keep them on the course as long as it’s fun. As soon as the game becomes uninteresting or frustrating for them, head to the practice green for a putting contest or even better, quit for the day and leave the new golfer feeling good about the outing.