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iacas

How to Move a Beginner to the Course

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I read somewhere the other day that new golfers should take "five or six lessons, at least" before they ever step foot on the golf course.

I was like… WHAAAAAAAAA?

But that begs the question: how do you take a beginner from being a beginner to getting them on the golf course? How does your plan change if you don't have a local executive course that can serve as an intermediate "first step"?

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I certainly don't claim to have the answer but the way my wife started, and even the way my son and I started to a much lessor extent seemed to work pretty well.

We never attempted to keep stroke play scores but just played holes individually as more of a match play format. That way we could enjoy any good holes we happened to play and any good shots we happened to hit while not having to beat ourselves up over the terrible shots and terrible holes and a ridiculous total score.

In my wife's case on holes where she didn't have the physical capability or skill to reach the green in at least one over regulation she skipped the tee shot and just went up and played her second from wherever we hit our tee shots.

On any blowup holes we would just tell her to pick up.

At the end of the day she was always excited about the good holes she played. Total score was never mentioned or even considered.

And we never held anybody else up on a golf course.

As far as lessons: I have never had a lesson but I doubt if anybody is more of a proponent of the benefits that lessons from the start would have provided than I am. Especially for young people that really have a desire to be the best they can be. Learning to hit the ball fairly well the wrong way and then having to backtrack and make corrections is not a very good game plan.

In my case I was 48 years old and figured golf was only something I might play a few times just for fun so there was no need for a lesson. Little did I know on either count.

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I would just play scramble format with them. It seems to help them relax when they are part of the "team" instead of trying to compete with you.
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I read somewhere the other day that new golfers should take "five or six lessons, at least" before they ever step foot on the golf course.

I was like… WHAAAAAAAAA?

But that begs the question: how do you take a beginner from being a beginner to getting them on the golf course? How does your plan change if you don't have a local executive course that can serve as an intermediate "first step"?


Yep, I have to agree about the lessons. When my wife wanted to learn to golf I enrolled her into an "Introduction to Golf"  series of lessons. This was a 5 lesson package that did what the title says, it introduced her to the proper grip, posture, swing dynamics, etc taught by a qualified pro. From these lessons she was able to use this info on the range and on the course with an understanding of the golf swing. They helped her a great deal without getting frustrated and giving up.

That was four years ago, now she is playing her own game, broke 95 for the first time last year, and just loves the game!

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Yep, I have to agree about the lessons. When my wife wanted to learn to golf I enrolled her into an "Introduction to Golf"  series of lessons. This was a 5 lesson package that did what the title says, it introduced her to the proper grip, posture, swing dynamics, etc taught by a qualified pro. From these lessons she was able to use this info on the range and on the course with an understanding of the golf swing. They helped her a great deal without getting frustrated and giving up.

Though it worked for your wife, I think that it's ridiculous to suggest that everyone - or even most people - should start by spending 4-6 hours getting instruction before they ever get the chance to PLAY the game. Who on earth would do this? Could you imagine any other sport starting that way?

You visit a bowling alley, they rent you shoes and you grab a ball, and you throw it down the lane.

You want to play disc golf, you grab a disc, and you throw it.

You want to play basketball, you dribble a bit, and throw the ball towards the hoop.

You want to play baseball, tennis, ping pong, pool, darts… you start playing. The vast majority of people are not going to spend 4-6 hours practicing a sport they might not even enjoy!

That's why I've asked the question.

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Though it worked for your wife, I think that it's ridiculous to suggest that everyone - or even most people - should start by spending 4-6 hours getting instruction before they ever get the chance to PLAY the game. Who on earth would do this? Could you imagine any other sport starting that way? You visit a bowling alley, they rent you shoes and you grab a ball, and you throw it down the lane. You want to play disc golf, you grab a disc, and you throw it. You want to play basketball, you dribble a bit, and throw the ball towards the hoop. You want to play baseball, tennis, ping pong, pool, darts… you start playing. The vast majority of people are not going to spend 4-6 hours practicing a sport they might not even enjoy! That's why I've asked the question.

I know beginners adult and juniors that have taken 5-6 lessons and gone skiing on their own, same with tennis etc. In my particular situation I never had a lesson, I can't honestly recall having a lesson, just a quick understanding of what each club does and away I went age 8. My daughter tagged along with me when she was about 8. I would throw down a ball 10 yards from the green and have her chip on an putt out, eventually moving further back. Never more than 5-8 rounds per year. She can play a whole round now age 14

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I read somewhere the other day that new golfers should take "five or six lessons, at least" before they ever step foot on the golf course.

I was like… WHAAAAAAAAA?

But that begs the question: how do you take a beginner from being a beginner to getting them on the golf course? How does your plan change if you don't have a local executive course that can serve as an intermediate "first step"?

1.  I think that without an executive course you don' take the beginner to play 18.. Play just 9..

2.  Play best ball with them every time out

3.  Convince them it is ok to play from the red tee's until they get better

4.  Don't cloud their thoughts with all the rules in golf

5.  I think more importantly as you have fun, you start feeding them thoughts of taking lessons and telling them how much they will improve if they put effort into it and even take lessons

6.  The other thing that helps is if there is someone that is decent playing with them too, because they will see nice shots and start thinking about how cool it would be to hit shots like that!

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Though it worked for your wife, I think that it's ridiculous to suggest that everyone - or even most people - should start by spending 4-6 hours getting instruction before they ever get the chance to PLAY the game. Who on earth would do this? Could you imagine any other sport starting that way?

You visit a bowling alley, they rent you shoes and you grab a ball, and you throw it down the lane.

You want to play disc golf, you grab a disc, and you throw it.

You want to play basketball, you dribble a bit, and throw the ball towards the hoop.

You want to play baseball, tennis, ping pong, pool, darts… you start playing. The vast majority of people are not going to spend 4-6 hours practicing a sport they might not even enjoy!

That's why I've asked the question.


Would you give a newbie a loaded gun for the first time and simply tell them to go out and have fun shooting at what ever?

Seriously...........

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Would you give a newbie a loaded gun for the first time and simply tell them to go out and have fun shooting at what ever?

Seriously...........

What a stupid analogy.

The vast majority of people are not going to spend 4-6 hours practicing a sport they don't even know that they enjoy.


I got involved at a kid's clinic. We smashed balls on the range, hit putts and chips for awhile, and then played holes 1 and 9 (parallel to each other) in foursomes with adult supervisors.

My wife hit balls at the range with some very, very basic tips, and then we played. I encouraged her to liberally fluff up the ball or tee it up, quit each hole when she'd had enough, and enjoy the conversation and time spent getting a little walking done in a park-like place.

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All I would suggest is playing a round on a slow day so someone isn't riding your ass all afternoon and making the newbie nervous.

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When I first started it was at a nine hole course where the pace of play was glacial already. I started out teeing off at the 50 yard marker, and I would take 6 strokes before just placing it on the edge of the green. From there I would either putt out or take 4 putts, whichever came first, just to keep moving at a reasonable pace. As I started to get older and hit it further I would move back to the 100 marker, the 150 marker, the 200 marker, and finally the red tees. I had a lot of fun doing it, and still sometimes wish I could start at 50 yards again (played a tournament at The Heritage course where they put us on the 7450 yard US Open qualifier tees), but it's a way to gradually make the holes more challenging as they get better. When practicing my Grandpa would always give me some kind of target, but he'd turn it into the game. He would find a big leaf and put a quarter underneath it, saying I could have the quarter if I got a putt to stop on the leaf. When chipping we would see who could hit it closer. It was a lot more fun to learn those things with a game format than if I had done drills instead.
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The vast majority of people are not going to spend 4-6 hours practicing a sport they don't even know that they enjoy.

Especially if it's $80-100 an hour.

I got involved at a kid's clinic. We smashed balls on the range, hit putts and chips for awhile, and then played holes 1 and 9 (parallel to each other) in foursomes with adult supervisors.

My wife hit balls at the range with some very, very basic tips, and then we played. I encouraged her to liberally fluff up the ball or tee it up, quit each hole when she'd had enough, and enjoy the conversation and time spent getting a little walking done in a park-like place.

My start was similar, golf camp and we started with short game then went to the range. At the end of the day we got to play one or two holes. I remember there was a "big" competition at the end of the week where we would play four holes lol

Same kind of thing with my sons, first took them to the putting green, then the range a couple times. Then we might play a few holes. Their "hole" would start in the fairway from about 100 yards away from the green.

My wife got to tee it up anywhere, throw it on the green from the bunker if her first attempt didn't get on the green and had to place it on the green once she reached double par.

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[QUOTE name="iacas" url="/t/73998/how-to-move-a-beginner-to-the-course#post_979702"]   Though it worked for your wife, I think that it's ridiculous to suggest that everyone - or even most people - should start by spending 4-6 hours getting instruction before they ever get the chance to PLAY the game. Who on earth would do this? Could you imagine any other sport starting that way? You visit a bowling alley, they rent you shoes and you grab a ball, and you throw it down the lane. You want to play disc golf, you grab a disc, and you throw it. You want to play basketball, you dribble a bit, and throw the ball towards the hoop. You want to play baseball, tennis, ping pong, pool, darts… you start playing. The vast majority of people are not going to spend 4-6 hours practicing a sport they might not even enjoy! That's why I've asked the question. [/QUOTE] Would you give a newbie a loaded gun for the first time and simply tell them to go out and have fun shooting at what ever? Seriously...........

Riiiiight...because a beginner on a golf course can almost be compared to a beginner with a deadly weapon??? In my state there is a class called "hunters safety" that everyone must take before they can buy a hunting license. I do not foresee "golfers safety" anytime soon.

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I started as an adult, and I can tell you for certain that there was no way I would have paid for a series of lessons before I even knew if I was going to enjoy the game or not. I went to the range only two or three times before my first round with my mother-in-law's boyfriend (who bought me used clubs), his friend, and nephew. They were really encouraging and patient with me which made me feel comfortable during a new activity. I think that comfort level is pretty important for a beginner. I was able to step out and play because my partners were supportive, and the course wasn't crowded so I never felt "on the spot." I think you have to somehow convince the person that: 1. Nobody cares how bad you are unless you're holding up pace of play 2. If they do, forget them. Who cares what they think. 3. Golf is not about putting a ball into a hole. It's supposed to be fun. Have fun.
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If I was taking an adult to the course for the first time, I'd take them to the range and let them go nuts by themselves for a while. It'd be pretty easy to see what they're doing the most wrong, and I'd tell them about how important it is to get their weight forward, etc. I'd make sure their grip wasn't horrendous as best I could. We'd "work" on the full swing probably for about 40 minutes or so. Obviously nothing crazy, and I use the word "work" tongue-in-cheek.

Then I'd show them how to hit a basic pitch shot, spending about 20 minutes or so here, maybe 30 at the most. Then I'd let em screw around on the putting green for a while. Maybe for 10 minutes or something.

So maybe I'd allot 70-80 minutes to range practice before ever taking them out? Something like that. I'd want to make this introduction as fun as possible if I could.

Then we'd head straight for the 1st tee.

I would tell him we're playing 9 holes from the forward tees*. I'd tell them since there isn't an executive course around, it would be a lot more fun to start from here. I'd refrain from giving too many tips, and I'd try to keep the vibe light the entire time, while also making sure to point out basic etiquette and rules errors along the way without coming off like too much of a dick.

I think that'd be a fairly fun introduction to it all. The end goal I think would be to leave them wanting more in some way if I could. So, it'd be important for me to keep the information to a minimum as best I could, and the fun levels to a maximum as best I could. I don't want to overwhelm them or anything.

*I guess this would depend on how well they were hitting it. Maybe I'd move back if they had a knack for power or something, but I think that's somewhat unlikely. I dunno, maybe the red tees is a mistake, but I think it could be a good idea. I mean, this is their first time we're talking about.

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My wife got to tee it up anywhere, throw it on the green from the bunker if her first attempt didn't get on the green and had to place it on the green once she reached double par.

Yeah, basically the same thing with my wife.  The first couple of times out, she would tee it up every time.  We've only played on a "real" course together one time (while on vacation - incidentally, the course they play in the movie Sideways ).  Usually it's the little 9 hole par 3 course by our house.  It's perfect for her because its 1.5 hours at most.

Sometime in the future, when the kids are older and hopefully interested enough in the sport to take it up, I'll probably encourage the wife to get some lessons as well.  We'll start doing the @Lihu family thing with you and Dana. :beer:

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I agree the notion of telling somebody to take five or six lessons seems nuts, but as someone that's into their 3rd year of playing seriously, I think lessons are the best advice.  I started to learn golf seriously at an older age, 46 - I had played previously in my 30's but only occasionally and I had engrained some very poor habits.

I'd suggest at least 2 or 3 lessons, to learn a proper grip and basic fundamentals.  Kids may adapt to a more natural swing than adults but for me at 46 there was nothing natural about a golf swing.  The problem I also found as a newbie was that good shots at the range does not equate to good shots on the course.  Range mats are much more forgiving that grass and range mats always provide a perfect lie, golf courses do not.

I'd suggest that a beginner could move to a course once they are comfortable hitting of a mat or at a grass range.  I like the suggestions of playing best ball, so the focus on improving skills not competing, which is especially a problem for men.

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I try to get beginners on the course as quickly as possible, it won't be from tee to green but usually we would start around the 100 yard marker. This is after doing some basics on the putting green and on the range. From there we slowly move back as their ability increases. My biggest thing is I want them to always be able to finish the hole. Since I teach in groups due to coaching we usually do it in chunks, spend some time each day on the practice green, driving range, and course as I want them to actually get out and play some holes. So far I have found that works well as it keeps their interest and enjoyment.

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