How To Play Golf: A Beginner’s Guide

Golf is an amazing game that brings about a great opportunity to connect, enjoy the outdoors and start an activity that is a lifetime sport.  

All of us have started at one point and have all been challenged with where to start.  This beginner’s guide on how to play golf will provide a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know.  

We take you from the key terms, to buying equipment, to how to conduct yourself on the course and ultimately how not to embarrass yourself!  Hang with us and we will make sure you are all set and ready to learn such an incredible game, one that you will enjoy and look forward to!

Having helped golfers of all age start and enjoy the game, we provide our comprehensive overview to ensure you are ready.  I have worked closely with youth golfers, all the way up to people who would be considered senior citizens. I love the game of golf and nothing is better than helping someone else grow fond of a wonderful activity.

You may be a bit overwhelmed, but trust us, we are here to help and provide everything that you need to know.  Here are the most important categories to get you going in the right direction and building your knowledge.

  1. What Golf Equipment Do I Need?
  2. How Do I Swing the Club?
  3. What Basic Golf Terms Should I Know?
  4. Playing At A Course!
  5. What Etiquette Do I need to Know?
  6. What Rules Do I Need to Know?
  7. How Do I Get Better at Golf?
  8. Should I Take Golf Lessons?
  9. What Are The Best Youtube Videos on the Golf Swing Basics?

Check out our Recommended Products page on Golf Swing/Training Aids, Golf Balls, Golf Shoes and more. 

What Golf Equipment Do I Need?

I would recommend starting with a set in the middle range price wise.  You don’t want to go all in and buy the most expensive clubs, as you may not end up liking the game.  However, you don’t want to go with the garage sale special as the technology in the game of golf continues to get better every year and the technology will help you hit better shots – which means you will enjoy the game that much more.  There are many quality options out there from pre-owned to a complete package.

You will want to make sure you have a driver, a 3 wood and at least 5 irons with a hybrid or two – and of course a putter.  If you are going to splurge on any of the clubs, buy yourself a decent driver, as it is the club that will start you on just about every hole and will help you fall in love with the game.  

Often times you can get a complete set that includes the bag and so many clubs.  These aren’t bad options. Typically, you can expect to pay somewhere around $150-300.  Check Price here on this recommended set from Amazon.

If you are looking to get your kids started in the game, I would recommend a similar package. Make sure they aren’t given adult clubs if they are ready for the length or the weight – this can cause bad habits from the beginning. Check Price

You will also want to buy some cheap golf balls, a glove and some tees.  As far as shoes, you can start by playing a in comfortable pair of athletic shoes.  I would save the money until you are a bit more series about the game.

How Do I Swing The Club?

Now that you have your clubs and are ready to go, the next question you are probably asking is how do I swing the golf club or how do I learn to swing the club.  You have several different options.

Number 1, head to the driving range and start swinging – probably not the best option.  Number 2, sign up with your local PGA Tour Pro for a lesson – A decent options, but can get pricey.  Or Number 3, watch some of the youtube videos below, get a decent idea, and then head to the range to practice some of the concepts. Are you a visual learning and can take some concepts to practice – If so, you can benefit from the online videos.

I would recommend this route to start and then progress on onto number 2 if you are struggling or want to take it to the next level.

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

SuperSpeed Golf – Read our Full Review

Gain 30-40 yards in 30 Days – Swing Man Golf

So what golf instructor would I recommend for online learning?  

I have two great online golf instructors that I believe can get you going in the right direction with a solid philosophy that is easy to understand, follow and then implement.  The two instructors are Mike Malaska and Shawn Clement. Both are great communicators and teach the game from a holistic perspective.

They are both movement based and do not get caught up on different positions, which I believe is key for a beginner in their journey.  Keep the game as natural as possible and get the basic movements down. Trust me – do not try to get into different positions that many of the teachers will take you down.

Here are the best two videos I would recommend to get you started:

Mike Malaska:

Shawn Clement:

After viewing these videos, head to your local driving range and practice.  Take your smartphone with you and review the videos when you are at the range.  Set your expectations realistically and enjoy the challenge. Start with some basic half swings and allow the momentum of the swing to take over.

Your goal for day one should be to get the ball in the air and have it go a decent distance.  Once you start making solid contact you can start to enjoy the game more.

Next, take your putter and three balls and head to your local course and get ready to learn some basic putting. Most practice greens can be used free of charge. You will want to keep this mind as you strive to get better.

Practicing the short game is typically free and you can improve the most!  There is nothing worse than the first time you go golfing and have no clue on speed or directional control. Set yourself up about 15 feet from the hole and work on understanding the speed.

Here is a great video to get you started with putting:

What Basic Golf Terms Should I Know?

Tee Time – A reservation that you make at a golf course for a specific time.  An average round of golf for 18 holes should take 4 to 4.5 hours. For your first round, you should consider non peak times such as evenings on a weekday. You will want to have twosome or foursome.

Pro Shop – The area where you typically check in and pay for your green fees.  Make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes before your tee time.

Golf Starter – Typically, this is a person that works by the first tee.  After you check in at the pro shop, you will give your receipt to the starter who then tells you when you can tee off.  Be nice to this person!

Tee – This is where you hit your first shot on every hole from.  Typically, there are red tees, white tees, and blue tees. Make sure you play the shortest tees your first time out.  Do not have a big ego!

Fairway  – This is the short grass where you are trying to hit your tee shot to on a par 4 and par 5.  Any shot in the fairway is a good way to start your round!

Green – This is the shortest grass on the course and where the hole/flag are located.  DO NOT drive your cart near or on the green. Most courses will ask you to keep the cart 20-30 yards away from all greens.  Make sure you respect their rules!

Rough – This is the longer grass around the tees, fairways, and greens.  A shot is on average harder to hit from the rough due to the grass being longer.

Mulligan – This is when you hit another shot from the same spot.  While not really allowed in the game of golf, many amateurs will use one mulligan per nine holes to keep the pace of play going.

Strokes – Every shot you hit, whether a 300 yard drive or a 3 foot putt all count as one stroke.  You count your number of strokes for each hole and then add up your total score.

Par – How many shots the course is designed for you to take.  For example, if a hole is a par 4, the hole is designed to hit a tee shot, then your approach shot on the green, and then a two putt.  Realistically, when you start playing, you won’t be overly concerned with par. If the hole is a par 4 and you only take 4 strokes, that is considered a par.

Bogey – This is one shot over par.  For example, a 4 on a par 3 hole is considered a bogey.

Double Bogey  – This is two shots over par.  For example, a 6 on a par 4 hole is considered a double bogey.

Birdie – This is one shot under par.  For example, a 4 on a par 5 hole is considered a birdie.

Eagle – This is considered two shots under par.  For example, a 2 on a par 4 hole is considered an eagle.

Hole in One – When someone hits their tee shot in the hole on the first shot.

Sand Trap – This is the area where you will find sand.  Sometimes these are located in a fairway area, but most commonly around the greens.  They are an area you want to stay out of and are considered a hazard.

Playing At A Course!

Now that you have some equipment, you have practiced several times at the range, and you have some of the key terms down – you might want to consider heading to the course for some fun.  

Make sure you can at least get the ball in the air and advance down the hole. Find someone, maybe with some golf experience, to take you to a course. This will help ease some of the fear and stress of playing at a course for the first time.  Set your expectations realistically and try to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

Tip: Pick a set of tees that is realistic for how far you carry your driver.  If you can’t hit your driver over 200 yards, you will want to play from the red (or shortest set) tees.

Make sure you keep your “pace of play” at a resonable amount (15 minutes per hole) and allow other faster groups to “play through” if you are holding them up.  There is nothing worse for the experienced golfer to be held up by slower, beginner golfers. We want to grow the game, but be aware of the others on the course.

Tip: Leave the course in better condition then when you arrive.  This means fixing divots and ballmarks you might make the green.

What Etiquette Do I need to Know?

I provide a complete guide with 12 tips for beginner golfers.  The golf etiquette is vital to follow especially if you are playing golf as part of a business trip or with other business people.  Also, keep in mind if friend invites you to golf, you want to come off someone knowledgeable and ensure you are a good playing partner.  The goal is to get invited back to play.

Tip: If you are playing with friends or as part of business, do not complain about your game and how you hit so much better at the range.  Trust me, we have all started the game of golf at some point and have struggle. Make sure you are complimentary of good shots and that you play a decent pace.  Do not take 42 practice swings, taking divots, tearing up the course and slowing everyone in the group down. If you do not know something – ask! The others in your group will be happy to help!

Golf Etiquette (Beginner’s Guide) – Make sure you have check out the etiquette guide I provide here before heading to the course.

What Rules Do I Need to Know?

Some basic rules for you to know:

  1. Play the ball as it lies – this is a general rule, however, you may want to consider “rolling” the ball, which mean improving your lies until you are proficient at hitting the ball solid.
  2. Out of Bounds – This is marked by white stakes.  Do not play a ball from out of bounds. If you aren’t playing tournament golf, drop your ball at point of entry and take one penalty stroke.  The actual rule requires you to go back to your last hitting spot and replay.
  3. Marking Your Ball – Once you are on the green you can mark you ball and clean it off.  People typically use a a small coin or a special ball marker.
  4. Sand Traps – You are not allowed to take practice swings in the sand that touch the sand.  In fact, you aren’t even supposed to put the club on the sand behind the shot when lining up.
  5. Hazards – Most water hazards are marked by red or yellow stakes.  If you hit in the water, there may be a drop area. If there is not, keep the the line that you ball went into and stay behind the water and drop no closer to the hole from where the ball went in the water.
  6. Embedded Ball – If the ground is soggy and your ball embeds, you are allowed to mark your ball, take it out of the hole, clean it off and keep it within one club length of that spot – no closer to the hole.

How Do I Get Better At Golf?

The million dollar question?  Really, it isn’t that difficult for beginner golfers to get better.  To me, there are three fundamental to golf. 1 – Be able to hit the ground at the same spot everything you swing.  The smaller your dispersion the better contact you will make consistently. 2 – Be able to hit the ball long enough to play the set of tees you select.  

Distance becomes a major part of improving at the game of golf.

(How do I Improve My Distance – Golf Training System)

Course Strategy is another major key.  Many amateurs struggle greatly with picking the right strategy for each hole and setting their expectations at a realistic level.  In my series on breaking 80, 90 and 100 – I spend a good amount of time talking about mindset and course strategy. Be realistic in your goals and what shots you can hit!

Spend Time!  You can have the best instruction money can buy, but if you don’t work at your game, you probably won’t get much better.  I would recommend spending 70% of your time on your short game.

This is where most high handicappers truly struggle. Be able to make clean contact with full swings, chip it somewhat close and make putts!  You will be surprised how quickly you can shave strokes with practicing your short game!

Tip: Watch the pros play.  Find a local tournament near you or watch the television.  Key things to watch for are their comfortable setups, their tempo and their course management.  One of the coolest things is watching their tempo in real life and tryin to carry that over to your game.  You will find that many have a 3:1 tempo – Backswing to downswing and maintain that tempo throughout their round of golf.

Here is my overall guide to breaking 100

Here is my overall guide to breaking 90

Here is my overall guide to breaking 80

Should I Take Golf Lessons?

If you are serious about improving your game, then absolutely yes. However, regardless of how many lessons you take, even if you go to the best instructor in the word – you must practice!  Spend several hours a week practicing and you can get better.

I recently built a golf simulator in my garage to ensure I can practice whenever I want to. This has been a game changer and have been able to reduce my 18 hole average from 78 to 74.  Time spent practicing, when combined with golf lessons is a great formula to reaching your goals and getting better at the game of golf.

How to Build the Ultimate Golf Simulator for Under $7,000

What Are The Best Youtube Videos on the Golf Swing Basics?

If you can’t afford golf lessons or choose not to spend the money, you can still learn quite a bit from the golf teachers on youtube.  There are many quality instructors out there that have a high level of expertise that can help your game. It ultimately comes down to if you need hands on advice right there for you to learn and grow the best.

Below you will find the best videos that I have collected.  You will notice a lot of the videos are from Shawn Clement. I believe he is the best for beginners or even those that have played the game for many years and still struggle.

His approach to teaching is refreshing and much needed in the world of golf instruction. So many teachers spent too much time trying to get people in positions. If we had 40 hours a week to work on the game it might work best, but many of us struggle to find 2-3 hours a week to play or practice the game.  

Shawn Clement’s, target based approach and the belief that he maintains that we are “gravity geniuses” is refreshing and helpful.  If I were starting the game today and knew what I knew now – I would go with Shawn Clement. Even at my current level, I follow him almost daily because it is easy for me to keep falling in the trap of worrying about this position or that position and freezing the ability to hit good shots!

Another favorite is Mike Malaska.  I love his concept of directing the momentum.  His video on the four different types of swing was truly eye opening and brought about a lot of clarity.  I believe that him and Shawn Clement promote many of the same concepts, but just in a different way. Watching both can get you going in the right direction.  Mike’s ability to swing the club in different way as he imitates the four different types of golf swing is truly impressive.

Four Different Types of Golf Swing – Mike Malaska

The Grip

The Setup

The Backswing

Top of BackSwing

Starting the Downswing

Quality Contact without Positions

Adding Speed and Distance


This complete beginner’s guide to how to play golf provides many resources to continue to tap into and use throughout your journey to learn the game of golf.  We are all on our own golf journey, whether we are just beginning or have played for 30 years! Enjoy the journey, take on the challenge to get better and soon enough you will have caught the golf bug and you will always be thinking about your game.

Golf is a great game, whether you are 10 or 60 – it is never too early or too late to take up the great game of golf.  Find a mentor or someone that will help you learn the game – even if the person is not a “pro.” Their love for the game will get you through the first several years and get you going in the right direction.  

Golf is a great opportunity to make connections, grow your business, have fun or simply to enjoy the outdoors. There are also many life lessons to learn through the game of golf, which is why I believe it is a great youth sport and one that every kid should experience.  Maintain composure is one major area that has benefited me in my life that I learned on the golf course.

If you want to be a great golfer, you have to learn to control your composure and most importantly handle your “self talk” throughout a round. What story are you telling yourself during your round and in life?  This story has a major impact on us in both golf and life. Once again, enjoy the journey and embrace the challenge!

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