Where to begin as a golfer
For existing golfers, the desire to improve is often there, but let me offer a few ideas for the beginner or the very new golfer.
Here’s a new golf term to give a theme to my credo for beginners, “the reverse learning method.”
Most new golfers go to a driving range, take the driver out, and start swinging. That is an equation for failure. For existing golfers, or people who have not played for a while, the following ideas could also help you get back into the game.
Let’s start very slowly to achieve the best long term results. For the first session, or at least half of the first session, you should be in interview mode with your instructor. This should be a win-win, as you need to get to know each other. I feel it is really important you feel at ease and confident with your instructor.
Putting and Chipping:
Start slow, with a focus on putting. This will give you a good foundation of power control and the important theory of focusing on the target. The new golfer will also build a good amount of confidence as the putts go in the hole, even if they are only from 3 or 4 feet.
Chipping and short pitch shots are the next chapter and using a specific target is important. This will let the student get a good concept of solid ball contact, and how you can get some amount of distance with very little power.
At each of the steps along the way, your instructor should control the pace of progress. At the end of a first session, possibly you have a putter and possibly a 9-iron or pitching wedge to practice with. The new golfer is likely better to wait a while to buy new clubs.
Practice and homework:
Between sessions, you need to practice and work on ideas provided at the first session. Your instructor should quiz you on your progress and answer questions you may have that caused issues for you. The balance of this session should be constant review and a good amount of repeating the basic concepts.
The full swing:
Late in session two, or in session three, you may be ready for the full swing. This can start efficiently with swings without a ball and focusing on fundamentals like the grip, stance, and brushing the ground with the club. Here again, start slow with abbreviated versions of the full swing, to understand the concept. As the beginner starts to hit balls, again keep it slow and easy, to short targets.
Another part of the homework assignment is to build strength and agility. There are even some specific yoga programs designed for golf and making your hands and wrists stronger which will be very helpful.
For women and juniors especially, the correct size clubs are crucial. Often I hear about kids using the Dad’s old clubs to begin. It seems like a good idea at the time, but the size and the weight is likely more of a deterrent to success.