The need for instruction:
“Learning to play golf is more like learning an instrument then a sport.”
This might sound like a strange statement, because most sports we’ve learned to play didn’t require a lot of instruction to start playing them. Whether it was dribbling or shooting a basketball, throwing or hitting a baseball, or catching or throwing a football, after a few pointers on how to hold the ball or where to put our hands on the bat we were able start playing.
It’s understandable to think that, after watching Tiger and other pros make it look easy to hit the ball 300+ yards off the tee, then hit iron shots to within 10 feet of the hole. That you can go buy some golf clubs go to the driving range for a while, and then hit the course with little or no instruction. It’s not that easy.
The reason I think it’s more like an instrument is that you wouldn’t hand a Saxophone to someone show them how to hold it and blow into and expect them to start playing. You’d need to learn how to blow into the mouthpiece correctly, how to maneuver through the keys, what different notes sound like, learn the scales, and PRACTICE. It will take time for you to play it well. In golf it’s the same thing, you need to learn the correct way to hold a club, how to swing it, how to stand over the ball correctly in order to hit it and PRACTICE. Think of the club as an instrument.
These are the things you would work on and practice BEFORE you get on the course, and there’re a lot of aspects of playing golf for you to work on. There’s the Driver and teeing off, you’ll have a fairway wood and Hybrid you need to learn how to hit, 8 or 9 irons to hit and each one goes a different distance.
What are the distances you hit each club? It’s different for everybody. A lot of your scoring will be with your wedges, so learning to pitch and chip will be very important. Learning to hit out of the sand (bunkers) is a skill that will come in handy. Lastly you’ll need to work on your putting. Learning to read greens and practice enough to have a good feel with your putter will help lower your scores. Remember two things that most of the shots you will make in a round of golf will be from 100 yards in and if you two putt every green that adds up to 36 strokes, that’s more then 1/3 if you break 100.
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent”
You have to practice the right things, the right techniques. This is very important! Otherwise you’ll start to pick up bad habits and bad form and it will take time and practice to get rid of them. I know this first hand. I spent many years not getting better because I had practiced the wrong things, the wrong techniques. I worked hard at the driving range and on the golf course, but my scores never really got lower.
I have recommended some books on this site to help you. Some will help with the basics, the fundamentals, more advanced techniques, the mental side of the game, and golf fitness. You can also seek out the Pro at the range or your golf course for lessons. Some have individual lessons and sometimes they offer group lessons. Either way it’s well worth the money. The books can only take you so far.
You need a trained eye, maybe some video tape to watch your swing and offer advice and practice tips. You’ve made a big investment in your game. Clubs, a bag, golf shoes, balls, gloves, clothes, etc. Not to mention the $35-75 for green fees each time you play. The Pro have been trained to help you hit the ball better, shoot lower scores, thus making your experience on the golf course more enjoyable. Once you decide to go play on a golf course you’ll need to know the etiquette and some of the rules in order to make playing enjoyable for you and your playing partners, but don’t worry. Check out my book “The Essential Book of Golf Rules & Etiquette”, it has all the essential etiquette and rules you need to feel comfortable on the course, which will enable you to concentrate on your game and play your best.