I was taken to a range after work to hit with a few buddies, then I bought a cheap set of box store clubs and started going to the range myself. This went on for two weeks, then I played in a work scramble for charity. That was the first time playing on a course.
That was over 20 years ago.
I would just go mostly with other beginners or whoever I could find. Finally hooked up with a guy that was retired and loved to play. We played just about every week, at least ever time we could for about five years or so. Then he died and I gave up the game. But during that time I was able to teach my sons the game.
Before Larry passed away he upgraded his clubs and gifted me with his old set.
About four years ago my younger brother started playing, and last year he convinced me to play a charity scramble with him and two other guys from work. Two weeks after that game I ordered clubs that fit me a little better and started playing again in earnest. My kids are grown now and me and my sons play when we can, but one is in the military and lives in another state. Last year we got to all go on Father's Day, it was the best Father's Day I ever had.
I understand why some folks would want lessons, I am sure I would be a better player today with them. But it is also great playing with someone that will help you along. And it is even better when you get to help someone else along. A golf score is a relative thing. What I might consider a great day on the course, others might have to seek profession counseling to get over.
Take new golfers with you, play when others don't if you can. Pick-up when you have too, play best ball if you have to, don't keep score if you have too. Try and stay out of others way as best you can.
People who demand that you have hours of professional lessons before you set foot on a course don't play the same game I do. And that's OK, pay your money, play your game.