• Ian Kerr

Getting into the Swing of Things – A Beginners Guide to Golf


Golf is indeed a game for all, regardless of age or skill level. For these reasons and many more, golf has been the foundation of many family outings, excursions and bonding sessions. If you or a family member are intending to try golf for the first time or would benefit from a review of the basics, the following extracts from: Golf Digest – introduction + beginners tips, will set you on the right path.

What you need to know about clubs: No doubt the right equipment always helps, but it’s not as if you’ll need to break the bank to get started. Instead, focus on finding the sort of equipment that will allow you to develop your imperfect skills with minimal expense. There’ll be plenty of time to go after the latest, hot products on the market, but at the beginning make learning – and not buying – your priority.

You only need a few clubs: You’re allowed to carry as many as 14 clubs in your bag, but you won’t need nearly that many when you’re first learning. Instead, start with a driver, a putter, a sand wedge (it’s the club that has an “S” on the sole or a loft of 54 to 56 degrees) and supplement those with a 6-iron, an 8-iron, a pitching wedge, and a fairway wood or hybrid with 18-21 degrees of loft. These are the clubs that are the most forgiving and easiest to get airborne.

Don’t guess – try before you buy: If you’re an absolute beginner looking to buy clubs, go to a larger golf shop or driving range and ask to try a 6-iron with a regular flex and a stiff-flex shaft. (Generally, the faster and more aggressive the swing, the more you will prefer a shaft that is labeled “S” for stiff.) One of the two should feel easier to control. That’s the shaft flex you should start with for all your clubs. Once you get serious about the game and are able to make consistent contact, a club-fitting will enable you to get the most out of your equipment.

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.

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. Nothing ruins your chances faster than snatching the club back.

Find the right teacher: Finding an instructor you trust can really speed up 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 feel 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 – figuratively of course.

We hope this brief introduction has been of some interest. If there are other topics you would like us to cover in future editions of The Artisan, please let us know.


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