How to Play Golf: The Beginner Guide

Did you know that golf was invented in 1457 in Scotland? And that golf was played on the moon once? Golf is an interesting and fun game to play, and you need mental and physical skills for it. When I started playing golf I was reading golf books, and there was no internet to search my questions or to get a summary of the important stuff a beginner should know. But now I can give you the best answer on the question: How to play golf? Learning golf is a really exciting journey with a lot to learn, so I wanted to help the starting golfer with my golf tips for beginners and golf tutorial videos. I wrote this “How To Play Golf: The Beginner Guide” for you to help you on that exciting journey of beginning the golf experience.

Table of Contents

Find the Perfect Golf Equipment

It’s an exciting journey to find equipment for a beginner golfer. You don’t need to spend too much money to get started. Make learning your number one priority instead of buying equipment, because practice is the key for success. A great way to start finding equipment is to pick an older set, this is a cheaper way, but you can also buy the latest hot products on the market if you don’t really care. I would recommend you to focus on finding what you really need and which you can develop your skills with.

Before we start, here is a short list of do’s and don’ts:
DO: Buy a glove. The majority of golfers use them. Plus, it’s better for your palm.
DON’T: Worry about buying your own equipment. Just start easy and don’t rush the process.
DO: Invest in proper golf clothes. Get great deals at retailers like PGA superstore.
DON’T: Buy headcovers for the irons you have, just don’t do it.
DO: Find the most forgiving golf clubs as a beginner golfer.

Start with Seven Clubs

Your question might be: Which golf clubs do I need and how many? You don’t have to reach the limit of 14 clubs in your golf bag when you are starting out. I recommend you to start with seven. If you never played golf in your life before, I recommend you to rent them at the golf course or use someone else’s clubs. Try out a golf club at the driving range before spending too much money on your own set. If you’re ready you can find racks of used and discounted clubs at many sporting equipment stores.

The clubs I suggest you to buy:

  • Driver
  • Putter
  • Sand Wedge (club with the ‘S’ on the sole or a 54 to 56 degrees loft)
  • Pitching Wedge
  • 7-Iron
  • 9-Iron
  • Fairway Wood or a Hybrid (with 18-21 degrees of loft)

Why Pick a Golf Club From this List?

Why did I select these clubs? Because they are the most forgiving clubs to use and are easy to get airborne with. Opt for more loft if you are a beginner in stick and ball sports. Generally speaking: the more loft the golf club has the more forgiving the golf club is. So when you want a forgiving driver make sure you have at least 10 degrees of loft and when you search for a fairway wood make sure it has 17 degrees of loft. 

After you’ve purchased a golf club, it’s a good idea to put new grips on them by a professional. The cardinal rule is: Change your golf grips every 40 rounds. Look for used clubs if you’re on a budget.

Choose your Tees and Balls

Tees are very straightforward. They are made out of wood or plastic and have a variation of colors. Nail your tee into the ground when you’re starting your game of golf. Place your ball on the tee and you are ready to go. Tees are mostly cheap so don’t worry about buying them.

Balls are very important and you want to have them for the game of golf. For balls, there is a very wide range of quality and price. A starting golf player should look for golf balls around $20 a dozen, also choose this option if you lose two sleeves or more in a round. If you lose three to to five balls a round, then look for balls around $30 a dozen. It’s possible when you play golf for a little while you lose less than a sleeve a round, then consider to go for $40 a dozen.

Golf balls and tees are available at your local sporting goods store. Don’t spend too much money in the beginning, because that’s just a waste. It’s a good option to have the most forgiving golf balls if you are just starting out. Easy step up the progress and then consider to buy more expensive tees and balls.

Tip: Check at your golf course if they provide balls for you to play with, this is the best option if you just started out.

Invest in a Golf Bag

Golf bags are mostly not cheap, but you don’t need the latest hottest bag on the market to start with. As a beginner golfer you really want to look for a bag that can carry your clubs, balls, gear and foods & drinks. You are looking for a practical budget bag if you are just starting. Check out used gear websites, yard sales and thrift stores for a good starter golf bag. 

If you play golf for a longer time and you don’t care about the money you will pay for it, then rather choose a good golf bag you like. Hold your focus on the practical side of the golf bag. Check out our reviews about bags if you want to, it might help you find a good golf bag.

Tip: If you’re planning to buy a bag, then look for a carry golf bag to begin with.

Golf Bags, Tees and Balls

What to Wear

For a beginning golfer, you don’t really have to buy the best golf outfit, but this piece of content is for you to know what golfers wear and what you need to but if you are going to a higher level.

(Polo) Shirt: Depending on the climate you live in or which weather it is on the day you want to play golf, the material you will choose to wear will affect your feel of play. In cold weather cotton is great material, but in warm weather synthetic material will be a better option. You can choose what to wear but make sure you have a collar, because you must have one.

– Wear T-shirts or sport jerseys.
– Have big advertising across the polo shirt.
– Have massive letters / foul language on the polo shirt.

Slacks & shorts: Choose wisely between wearing shorts or slacks. Most of the time you use shorts in warm weather and slacks in warm and cold weather. We have selected some shorts for you already on our site. It depends on your preference. Keep in mind that you need to have belt loops, no drawstrings like used for soccer shorts.

The safest colors to use if choosing your slack or short are khaki, cream, beige, tan and gray. Some high handicappers wear white, but this is not important to begin with and I suggest you to not wear white.

– Wear white pants, because low handicappers reserved the color white.
– Wear three-quarter shorts.
– Have a slack or short with no belt loops.

Golf shoes: You don’t really have to worry about having golf shoes when you’re starting, but if it’s raining you want to have the best waterproof golf shoes. Sneakers are the best to begin with. If you are making progress you pheraps want to have the most comfortable golf shoes. Know that there are three kinds of golf shoes:
– Steel spikes shoes, but AVOID these as a beginner golf player.
– Soft spikes shoes, these are the most popular type of golf shoes you can find.
– Spikeless shoes, which are great for people who get stud pressure walking on spiked golf shoes. These shoes are more comfortable and look more casual.

– Wear trainers.
– Wear sandals or flip flops.
– Avoid steel spikes as a beginner

Golf gloves: Having a firm grip and having no change of getting blisters on your hand is the perfect combination. Even if you have sweaty hands you can continue your play. Go and find some good pair of golf gloves to improve your game. For the winter I have selected the best winter golf gloves for you. 

If you are right handed wear a glove on your left hand and if you are left handed wear a glove on your right hand. Wearing one golf glove is very normal and I recommend you to just wear one.

Know the Rules of Golf

The “Rules of Golf” book is around 180 pages long. But don’t worry! Understanding the golf game is not that hard. Most golfers have very little knowledge of how to play the game correctly. Many golf players make rules up, so if you’re not sure about the rules of golf, that’s okay. Just remember everything in this article and you should be fine. You can also read our guide “18 Golf Rules You Should Know“.

Object of the Game

You start a game with the ball at the starting point, a so-called “tee”. The intention is to get the ball to the green and closer to the hole. When your ball is on the green you want to get the ball into the hole. Your ball can also land in the ‘rough’ or in water or sand (a so-called ‘hazard’). A flag is used to mark the hole. You want to get your ball into the hole with as few shots possible. The terms “PAR 3, PAR 4 or PAR 5 hole” are meaning that you can finish that hole in 3, 4 or 5 shots. The term “hole” is not just the physical hole, but refers to the entire area (from the tee to the green) where the physical hole is. The number of the total holes standard golf courses have is 18. There are smaller golf courses like 9-hole courses, that’s a better option for the beginner golf player.

Golf Course Map

Play by Golf Course Order

Every golf course structure is different, and also the holes you start and end with. It’s better to have a map with you or someone who is familiar with the course order. Like said before, you have a tee where you start and a hole where you finish.

Golf Ball Rules

If there is a ball that’s not yours, leave it. Stick with your own ball, because that “free ball” you see is from someone else that maybe shot his ball to an unintended location.

Don’t move the golf ball on the course under any circumstance, but you can if you are on the green and if you are under a certain circumstance. Mark the ball’s position on the putting green before you lift your ball. If there is an obstruction on the course (think man-made object) in your way you can also move the golf ball. 

Everyone knows that you should not shoot your ball out of bounds. This is getting more important if you are making more progress or if you’re doing outings.

If your ball is lost don’t search longer than five minutes for it. Take the one stroke penalty after five minutes of searching and play as close as possible to the last spot you shot your ball from. Drop the ball from there and play further. Taking a stroke penalty is not fun, but in this case it’s the best thing to do.

Keep Up Your Score

Each hole has an ideal number of strokes it will get to get the ball into the physical hole, that’s called a PAR and pars range from 3-5, and each hole on the course are so-called “PAR 3, PAR 4 or PAR 5” holes. PAR stands for how many strokes it should take to get the ball in the physical hole. 

Each time you hit the ball in a game, your score sums one point up. Keep your score for each hole you play, and try to finish with the lowest score. 

Golf Scores

When do you Win?

If you finish your play with the lowest score of the group you win the game. You can also break your own record and that’s a win for yourself. But I think the most important thing is that you learn from your play and improve your skills with everything you have learned.

Learn to Play Golf

Starting with the golf game can be the hardest part. And I recommend you to take lessons for learning golf. First ask yourself, why do I want to play golf? Are there social reasons? Do you want to be at a top level? Knowing the basics of golf is good enough if you play for social reasons with friends etc. If you want to be a top level player there is a lot of effort, time and money needed to reach that goal. Decide which golf player you want to be if you want to play golf for real.

Basic Important Shots

I have selected five basic shots you should know as a beginner, but there is more if you go advanced. Now we are focussing on the beginner basic shots:

Drive: You start every game with this shot from the tee. On higher PAR courses the driver is the most used club. The goal with this shot is to the ball far and straight enough. Beginners mostly struggle with this one. This shot mostly has the longest take off distance.

Approach Shot: This shot is mostly done by your irons. But more and more golfers are using the hybrid club for this shot to hit more further and higher. With this shot you want to hit the ball for enough to reach the green.

Chip: Usually this shot can be played with a variety of clubs, for example a 7-iron and a lob wedge. The place for this shot is around the green and the ball rolls further then it flies.

Pitch: The wedge is the type of club you want to use for this shot, from a lob wedge up to a pitching wedge. This shot spends more time in the air than time on the ground, but you don’t want to full swing. To lower your scores this shot maybe is the most important shot. The pitch is practicable at many places.

Putt: So you have reached the green? Get your putter and putt the ball on the green and into the physical hole. With this shot you want to keep the ball rolling over the ground.

Learn to Shoot

The first thing you have to do is take a lesson, so look for a teacher that can help you improve your golf play. In most countries you have to get a golf license before you can play a game on the course.

Focus on your short game before you focus on the big shots and more take off distance. A great way to start learning golf is with putting. Learn how to handle your club and start getting the feel of the grip. You can practice short shots almost everywhere, for example putting is practicable in your living room. You can practice putting and chipping on a putting- and chipping green.

If you want to step up a little bit, go to the driving range. You can practice there for getting longer shots and a better golf swing.

Golf Stroke

Set Up Your Swing

1. Stand up and slightly bend your hips and knees.
Stand hip-width apart with your feet and have your weight evenly disturbed between the centers of your feet. Make sure it’s between the centers of your feet and not your heels or toes. Slightly bend your knees and lean forward. The right way to stand is derived from the bowler stance when a bowler brings the ball back to throw it, so with their weight even between their feet and slightly bent forward. Make sure your non-dominant side of your body is facing your target.

2. Bring your club back and parallel to the ground.
When you lift your club, the order should go: clubhead, hands, arms, shoulders and hips. Hold your dominant arm close to your side. If you pass your dominant-sided leg with your hands, your weight should start shifting to that leg. If the club is parallel to the ground it should be faced so the toe or rounded edge is up toward the sky.

3. Get the golf club at a 90 degree angle.
Move your weight to your dominant side, and fold the elbows to get the club straight up 90 degrees from the arms. Make sure your arms are still parallel to the ground. You should feel your shoulders going in an upward rotation, also more weight is moving to your dominant hip now. The toe of the club you are using should be facing backwards toward the opposite side of the direction you’re swinging.

4. To bring the club up you have to turn your shoulders.
Your shoulder should be twisted so your non-dominant shoulder is directly below your chin, and then you’re stretching the lateral muscle on that side. Move your club up over your head almost 180 degrees. Be sure the club head is pointing toward the ground. Put your hands in an one o’clock position. The dominant ankle, hip and shoulders should feel ready to go toward the ball.

Hitt the Ball

1. As you swing the club down, shift your weight slightly to the other side.
Your weight should shift a little bit toward your swinging direction. Your dominant elbow has to pass in front of your dominant hip. Keep your body centered and pointed toward the ball. Make sure you keep your wrists hinged like they were when you brought the club down, to avoid throwing the club’s weight from the top.

2. When you make contact with the ball make sure your side is straightened and is facing the target.
If the club makes contact with the ball, ensure your hips continue to turn so that your body side is straightened on the side you’re aiming. Make sure your head is behind the ball when you make contact. Your dominant wrist should be bent. All of your weight is mostly shifted on your non-dominant side. Or your target side.

3. Both arms need to be fully extended for the follow-through.
After the contact with the ball is made, make sure you don’t stop your swing. While bringing your arms and club up you want to be almost parallel to the ground toward the target you’re aiming at. Because your hips are twisted in the swing your arms should move inside and back toward your body.  The dominant knee should kick inwards toward the knee that’s straight during the last part of shifting your weight. And this will close the gap between your legs. When you stop with the clubhead on top level and when the toe of the clubhead is pointing up to the sky, you have maintained control in your wrists and arms.

The Grip

Besides the swing you have two other techniques that have a different grip. We are talking about the techniques putting and chipping. Having a mastered grip with these techniques will help you be a better and more professional golf player.

Putting: Instead of overlapping your pinky fingers, join your hands to create a more stable point from where you swing with putting. Tiger Woods likes the traditional one. Pros like Jim Furyk, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player use the cross-handed grip, with massive success. When your bottom hand holds a putter like a writing pen, then you are using the split handed or claw grip technique. First consult with your teacher which approach should work out the best for you.

Chipping: Most amateurs have some significant problems while chipping. One of the most significant problems is dealing with weak contact with the ball. Beginners often hit with their club behind the golf ball that causes the chip to “chunk”. Another common problem beginners have is hitting the upper half of the golf ball, causing a thin shot (as a blade that is hard to control).

Approach the chipping grip by firstly using your putting grip when holding the club. This creates confidence by getting a comfort feeling with a grip. After you did this, focus on the ball placement and your wrists location at impact time. Try to lift the ball with the loft instead of letting the clubhead do the work. It’s very important to have strong wrists for striking with the golf ball, chipping is an example for this. Avoid the “chunks” and “blades” I’ve said earlier by having a strong and firm grip.

Have a Proper Etiquette

Before you head on to the course with your friends, family or maybe even colleagues, you might don’t want to embarrass yourself by not knowing the protocol or not knowing how to act. Now you are excited and you want to play with others, but first let me tell you with five points how to have a proper etiquette.

Keep Up With the Group

Don’t rush your strokes or run to your ball, but you have to be ready to hit when it’s your turn after just one or two practice swings. There is plenty of time to talk to each other between the shots, but not if someone is ready to hit. If you are on the green in a casual round of golf with very short putts, then make the putt and pick up the ball. Always remaining a half hole behind the others is a great way to monetize your pace.

Golf group

Wait Your Turn

I understand if you want to do your golf swing and shoot the ball as soon as possible, but the heading speaks for itself. There would be a mass confusion if all golfers will hit the ball at the same time. Knowing when to hit is important and doesn’t really speak for itself. The person who had the best score on the previous hole traditionally tees off first. After the tee shot the person who is the furthest from the hole hits next (and so on). “Ready golf” is a term which means that everyone can hit next if they are ready to hit, this is another type of playing with other people. On the green, if you’re the closest to the flag you can charge or remove the flagstick from its position when everyone says they can see the cup clearly. Put the flagstick back on its place if you and the group leave the green.

Yell “Fore!”

When starting out the chance of you to say “Fore!” is really big. You may have heard that term and it means that other people have to watch out for an incoming ball. When yelling this term, the person who is in the shot direction can react to the incoming ball. Don’t wait to yell this word if a ball can hit a person, and be sure you shout it out loud. You can also yell “Fore right!” or “Fore left!” to help that person in danger in a little bit more specific way.

Stay Out of the Way

Golfers can seem really obsessive about where people are standing. This obsessive like behaviour ensures no one can get hurt. A good rule of thumb is to stand several yards behind the ball. If someone shoots out of a bunker stay alert, because those shots are mostly unpredictable. On the green don’t stand in sight of the player who is putting. Never step in the lines of other players.

Be Nice for Golf Courses

The course maintenance requires a lot of work, time and effort to make it look so good. You have to take care of it either and don’t make a mess from it. If you swing the ball and hit the ground put the ground layer back in its place. Firmly press down the spot with your feet. Also fix the ball mark on the green if it lands there.

Golf course

You’re Ready for the Course

Now you’ve learned the basics of golf equipment, rules, techniques and etiquette. With all of this knowledge you can start playing golf on the course (in most countries you need a golf license for going on the holes). Early experiences need to be good ones so don’t start off on the same course pro golfers play. Build yourself up to that “pro” level and know your limitations.

Get In Shape

One of the key components of having a good swing is having a body that’s able to make it good. Having strong hip muscles, a stable back and flexibility in the hamstrings are really helping to get your body in the situation to be able to do a good swing. The pros of golf really focus on their body shape and that’s a reason why they are pros. So you want to achieve that perfect golf swing? Then you have to train the specific muscles to do so. Start with these areas I just told you and you’re on the good way.

Have a Routine

In the beginning almost everyone wants to hit the ball as hard as possible at the driving range, but this isn’t the best way to start. Just have a routine. Start off with your wedges and short irons and warm up your golf muscles with half swings. When you are a little warmed up move to your middle irons and increase the length and speed of your swings. Work your way up to the big dog a.k.a. the driver for huge distance shots, and after you hit some balls go back to the short irons or wedges. All of this will help you to keep a tension level and tempo in check.

Driving Range

Start Small

If you just started playing golf I would really not recommend you to go on the big courses. Before entering the 18-hole course championship course you want to start much smaller. PAR-3 courses are perfect to begin with, then you also focus more on the short shots which are more important than you think. I recommend you to get used to the PAR-3 courses before you give yourself a higher challenge. You can start bigger, but almost everyone will get frustrated, so just begin small. Have more focus on your golf swing in the beginning.

Keep Up Pace

Maintain a decent pace of play while you’re playing to limit yourself to a certain number of strokes per hole. Did you get more than seven strokes? I recommend you to go to the next hole. If you are a beginner there is nothing wrong for being a little slower then the rest, or if you pick your ball up sometimes. Trust me, they will rather be more appreciated than irritated when you do so as a beginner.


That’s all for a beginner. Sure, being a pro golf player is the best thing there is, but maintain your focus on practicing and knowing the basics of every aspect of the sport. Like said before: learning how to play golf is an exciting journey, but take your time and don’t rush through the process of learning and practice, and you should be fine. Read this guide whenever you want to improve yourself.

Golf Shot


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