If you’ve decided to take up golf, you may think that there’s a lot to learn. On a recreational level, however, golf is a fairly simple game -- just keep hitting the ball until it lands in the hole. To best enjoy your time on the course, learn a few basic rules, procedures and social conventions.
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Learning to Play
Learn the basic swing mechanics before you step onto a course to play. Check with your local parks and recreation department to take group lessons. For individual lessons, contact local courses and golf practice centers to find pros certified by the PGA, the LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Division, or the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. All three organizations certify both male and female instructors. You may also find a women's golf school in your area -- but make sure its instructors are certified by one of the three organizations.
Start with a basic set of clubs, with the idea that you'll replace them as your game improves. Go to a retailer that lets you test its clubs and ask to try a 6-iron with a variety of shaft flexes. Don't automatically use the flex labeled L, for "ladies," which is the most flexible shaft. Select the flex type that feels best when you swing the club, then use that flex type for all your clubs. Look for clubs labeled "game improvement," which are more forgiving of mis-hit shots. You can purchase a beginner set or assemble your own. To start, get two woods -- such as a driver and a 5-wood -- and at least one long hybrid, such as a 3. Obtain at least three middle to short irons, such as a 5-, 7- and 9-iron. Get a sand wedge, in case you land in a bunker, a pitching wedge and a putter.
Preparing to Play
Don't just walk onto the first tee and start playing. Instead, warm up for about 10 to 20 minutes. Your warm-up can include dynamic stretches, taking light practice swings with your clubs and hitting some balls in the course's practice area.
Playing the Game
Consider playing your first round or two on a shorter, par-3 course and then move up to a regulation course. When you begin a round, determine the order of play on the first tee however you wish. Afterward, the person whose ball is farthest from the hole should hit first, but it's more important to be ready as quickly as possible. There will likely be more golfers following your group, so it's important to play at a reasonably quick pace. Walk briskly to your ball, assess your lie and the distance of your next shot, select your club, visualize the shot briefly, take one practice swing and then execute your shot. You may also wish to set a stroke limit per hole, such as seven or eight, to make sure you don't delay other golfers on the course.
Golf is an easy game to score. You count one stroke for every time you hit the ball. In stroke play, the fewest strokes in the round wins the match. In match play, the fewest strokes on a hole wins that hole. The player who wins the most holes wins the match.
Resources for Women
If you're in the learning stage, you can likely find women-only clinics, such as the “LPGA Golf Clinics for Women,” which is actually run by JBC Golf, Inc. When you're ready to play, many golf courses have days, or parts of days, when only women can tee off. If you're looking for a good course, you may wish to check out "Golf for Women" magazine's annual list of the top 50 women-friendly courses in the United States.