The very next comp I entered was a medal and this was a complete shock to the system! I look back on that round now and am just grateful at how patient the other three were that day!
I think there is merit in seeking some kind of "professional" assistance before being unleaded in full blown club competitions but I did most of my learning playing in the evenings while the course was pretty much all my own.
But yeah, that first medal round still breaks me out in a cold sweat! :)
Oh...also, new beginners need to learn the rules too.