Congratulations! You've been invited out for a round of golf by a friend or a family member or (gulp) maybe even your boss. You're excited, but you're also petrified you might embarrass yourself because you're not quite sure of the protocol either on or off the course. Golf etiquette may seem complicated, and in truth, there's plenty you'll learn the more you play. But if you start with the following five points, you'll be fine. And remember, if you're still not sure of something, there's nothing wrong with asking.-- E. Michael Johnson, Senior Editor, Golf World
1. Don't lag behind: The easiest way to endear yourself to playing partners has nothing to do with how well you play, but rather, how fast. That doesn't mean you have to rush your shots or run to your ball. It simply means you should take just one or two practice swings and be ready to hit when it's your turn. That still leaves plenty of time to chat between shots (but never when someone is getting ready to hit). Additionally, on the green if it is a casual round of golf, very short putts (roughly two feet or less) are generally "given." If someone tells you "that's good" it means it is assumed you will make the next putt and you can pick the ball up. A good way to monitor your pace of play is to always remain a half hole behind the group in front of you.
2. Wait your turn: If all golfers hit at the same time, it would be mass confusion, so knowing when to go is important. Traditionally, the person who had the best score on the previous hole has "the honor" and tees off first (and so on). From there, the general rule is the person furthest from the hole -- or "away" -- hits next. Bear in mind, however, that your group might decide it wants to play "ready golf," which means anyone who is ready to hit can go. Once you're on the green, another consideration is the flagstick. If you're the closest to the hole, you're in charge of removing the flagstick if everyone says they can see the cup clearly, tending the flagstick (which means pulling it from the hole as a putt tracks closer to the hole) if they can't, then putting the flagstick back in the hole when your group leaves the green.
3. Don't kill anyone. Yell "Fore!": Chances are you'll need to say this quite often when starting out. Shouting "Fore!" is merely a way of saying, "Watch out!" and it is used when golfers hit shots astray that might possibly come close to another person on the golf course. A couple of things to know about using this term: First, don't wait. The moment you realize a ball has even a remote chance of hitting another person, shout it out. That brings up the second point, which is, SHOUT IT OUT. Using the term at anything less than full voice is a disservice. It is a warning to other golfers. Also helpful is to yell the direction the ball is headed in, as in "Fore right!" or "Fore left!" The more specific, the better. There is no harm in yelling "Fore!" even if the ball does not come close to someone.
4. Take care of the course: It's hard work to make a golf course look as good as it does. Do your part to take care of it. For starters, if you're in a golf cart, find out if it is OK to take the carts on the grass or if they must remain on the cart path. Either way, never drive the cart near the putting green. On the course, if you take a divot (a piece of turf when hitting a shot), you should either replace it by carefully placing it in the spot and then firmly pressing down on it with your foot, or filling the hole with some seed mix. Shots hit to the green often leave a ball mark. If you don't know how to properly fix them, ask one of your playing partners to show you. And make sure you rake the bunker after you hit out of one. The sand is daunting enough without having to contend with someone's footprint.
5. Know where to stand: Golf may seem like a genteel sport, but keep in mind it is played with blunt objects. If golfers seem obsessive about where people are standing, it's because they don't want anyone to get hurt. They also don't want anything interfering with their concentration on a shot. A good rule of thumb is to stand to the side and slightly behind the ball several yards away. If a player is in a bunker, stay alert and stand well off to the side. Those shots come out fast and can go anywhere. On the green, try to stay out of the line of sight of the person putting. Further, when walking on the green be aware of the line from other player's balls and the hole and don't step in those lines.
Source: Golf Digest
There are parts of golf that will elude you your entire life, but certain fundamentals are essential. You have to be able to hit a driver off the tee with a fair amount of confidence. You have to be able to hit an iron off the ground, and get out of a greenside bunker. You have to know a few basic short shots around the green, and be able to keep your cool when things get ugly. Start with the tips below:
1. Know when to chip and when to pitch: When you have a short shot to the green, you're going to hit either a chip or a pitch. What's the difference between the two? A chip shot stays low and runs along the ground, and a pitch flies higher and doesn't roll as much. Use a chip when you don't have to carry the ball over an obstacle, like deep rough or a bunker, and you have a lot of green between you and the hole. Use a pitch when you have to carry over something or need to stop the ball faster. The extra height on a pitch shot causes the ball to land softer and stop faster.
2. Get out of a bunker every time: The greenside bunker shot is the one shot in golf where you don't actually hit the ball: You swing the clubhead into the sand behind the ball, and the sand pushes it out. For that reason, you have to swing quite a bit harder than you might expect; the sand really slows down the clubhead. Here's the basic technique: Using your sand wedge, stand so the ball is even with your front instep, twist your feet in for stability, and focus on a spot about two inches behind the ball. Swing the club back about halfway then down and through that spot behind the ball. Keep turning your body so your chest faces the target at the finish.
3. Use your athleticism: Beginning golfers often get so tied up in the instructions for making the swing that they lose their athletic instincts. Golf might be more mental than other sports, but the swing is still a dynamic, athletic movement. At address, stand like a defender in basketball, with your legs lively and your weight balanced left to right and front to back. On the backswing, think of a quarterback rearing back to make a pass: Arm stretched back and body coiled from top to bottom. And on the downswing, be like a hockey player hitting a slap shot, with your wrists staying firm and your hands leading the clubhead into the ball.
5. Don't fear the big dog: You might think the driver is more than you can handle right now: It's the longest club in your bag, and the head is gigantic. The truth is, built into that big clubhead is more forgiveness for mis-hits than you get with any other club. Have a few driver keys to rely on. First, tee the ball nice and high. Second, take the club back smoothly and make a full body turn, getting your back to face the target. Third, swing through the ball; just let it get in the way of the clubhead through impact. Last, hold your finish. If you can finish in balance, you've swung at a speed you can control.
6. Lost your way? Go back to chipping: Learning golf can at times be overwhelming. When you feel frustrated, go back to hitting short chip shots. The chipping swing is the basis of the entire swing; it's the full swing in miniature. And with the chipping motion being so short and slow, you can more easily understand what's happening. To play a chip, position the ball back in your stance, put more weight on your left foot, and swing equal lengths back and through without hinging your wrists on either side. Once you get a feel for the chip, swing a little longer by hinging the club upward with your wrists and letting your weight shift back and through. In no time you'll build a feel for the full swing
Source: Golf Digest
The hardest part about golf can be getting started. Ask yourself a few questions. First, why do you want to play? Is it for work or social reasons? Maybe then you need only some basic instruction and patient friends. Perhaps you're looking to jump in headfirst in hopes of getting better fast. If so, there's plenty of top-level instruction out there. Next, how much are you willing to put into it? That goes for time and the money. Point is, there's a huge difference between wanting to ride around and have some laughs and being a serious player. Do some soul-searching, and start to develop your plan. Follow the steps below to start learning today:
1. Take lessons right away: The bad news when you're just starting out is you don't know much about golf. The good news? You don't know much about golf. You probably haven't ingrained many bad habits, and you have tons of questions about what to do. Nothing beats starting out with some positive direction. And don't just seek instruction when you're struggling. It's just as important to know what you're doing right as what you're doing wrong.
2. Have a range routine: Everyone wants to see how far they can hit a golf ball, but when you go to the driving range, resist the temptation to immediately start ripping drivers. Yes, you might crank a couple, but swinging for maximum distance will throw you out of sync -- and fast. Start out by hitting one of your wedges or short irons, warming up your golf muscles with half-swings. Then increase the length and speed of your swings, and move on to your middle irons. Work your way up to the driver, and after you hit some balls with it, go back to a short iron or wedge. This will help you keep your tempo and tension level in check.
3. Learn the short shots: Roughly half of your strokes come within 50 yards of the green. That means you probably should spend half of your practice time with your wedges and putter. This might sound boring, but the good news is, you can practice your short game in your own back yard -- even in your TV room. Put out some buckets in your yard at various distances and try to pitch balls into them. Give yourself good lies and bad lies, just like you get on the course. As for putting, your carpet might not play as fast as the greens, but you can still practice aiming and rolling balls through doorways and into furniture legs
4. When in doubt, go back to basics: Golf can really get you thinking too much. There's a lot of information out there, and the most mind-numbing part can be the instruction. When you're a new golfer, you can't help but read it and watch it, but too much can be, well, too much. When you find yourself getting burned out from too much swing thinking, go back to basics. Try to get yourself into a good setup -- check your ball position and posture -- then make a relaxed swing all the way to a full finish. Over-thinking creates tension, so be aware of your stress level: Waggle the club a little at address and try to make a smooth move off the ball.
5. Find the right teacher: Finding an instructor you trust can really speed your improvement. Of course you want your teacher to be knowledgeable and committed to helping you, but just as important is finding a good personality fit. If you're laid back, you might like a teacher with a low-key approach. If you're a creative type, you might work best with someone who teaches with feels and images instead of angles and positions. The point is, you want to be comfortable and enjoy the experience. You'll learn best when you feel free to ask what you think are stupid questions and when you're not afraid to fall down a few times
Source: Golf Digest
One of the best ways to improve your golf game is to stay active. Adding just 30 minutes of cardio can greatly improve your game. Activities like jogging or bike riding can better your breathing to help you recover post play.
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