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Golf Tips for Beginners [The Complete Guide to Learning and Improving Your Game]

Golf can seem incredibly daunting when you first pick up a club. Between the etiquette, rules, equipment, and actual golf swings, there’s a lot to learn. But golf is ultimately meant to be an enjoyable activity. With the right mindset and a focus on the fundamentals, you can pick up the game and see improvements faster than you think.

This complete guide covers everything you need to know as a beginner-from the basics of grip and swing to golf rules, etiquette, equipment, and more. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to shooting lower scores and having more fun on the course.

Getting Started: Golf Basics for Beginners

Before you hit the driving range or the course, make sure you understand the absolute basics of the game. Here’s a quick introduction to some golf basics:

The Goal

The goal of golf is to complete each hole in the fewest number of strokes. You’ll aim to hit the ball from the tee onto the fairway, get it closer to the green, and then onto the putting surface, where you’ll try to make it into the hole.

Stroke Play

This is the most common format for both casual and professional golf. Your total score is simply the sum of all your strokes over the 18 holes. Lower scores are better!


Par represents the expected number of strokes to complete a hole. Most holes are par 3, 4 or 5. If you shoot par on each hole, your total score will be par for the course.

The equipment

You’ll use different clubs to hit different shots. Woods and hybrids hit the ball long (200+ yards) from the tee and fairway. Irons hit mid-range shots (150-200 yards), wedges hit short shots (less than 150 yards), and putters roll the ball onto the green.

Golf balls

Balls come in a variety of constructions (2-piece, 3-piece, etc.). As a beginner, the most important thing to know is that softer balls are more forgiving for slower swing speeds. Prioritize distance over spin when choosing a ball.

The golf course

Courses typically have 18 holes, each with a tee box, fairway, rough, hazards (sand, water) and the putting green (with the hole). The front 9 and back 9 refer to the first and last 9 holes.

Now that you have the basics down, let’s get into specific tips and strategies to help you improve quickly as a beginner golfer.

Golf Tips for Beginners

Choose the Right Equipment

Having the right equipment will make the game much easier and more enjoyable for beginners. Here are some important factors to consider:


To improve your game, use irons with more forgiving face technology. Avoid blades until you reach a lower handicap. Add hybrids to replace harder-to-hit long irons.


Aim for at least 10.5 degrees of loft on your driver. The higher loft will help get the ball in the air. Have a regular or senior flex shaft unless you have above average swing speed.


Carry a pitching wedge, gap wedge and sand wedge to hit a variety of short shots around the green. Good wedge play will quickly lower your score.


Get a proper fit for a putter – it’s the most commonly used club, and a proper fit increases consistency on the greens. Find a putter that gives you confidence over the ball.

Golf Ball

Use a 2- or 3-piece distance ball that reduces spin and maximizes distance at moderate swing speeds. Softer balls like these are also more forgiving.

Golf Glove

Wear a glove on your lead hand (top hand) to improve grip and prevent blisters in the beginning.

Master the fundamentals

Before trying to copy tour pro swing mechanics, it’s important for beginners to first master the fundamentals of setup and grip. Here are the key areas to focus on:

Grip – use a neutral or slightly firm grip to promote pulling the ball back to target. Avoid a weak grip that encourages slicing.

Stance – feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly flexed, ball centered or slightly forward with driver.

Posture – athletic stance with spine angle in line with hip flexion, knees slightly flexed and weight evenly balanced.

Alignment – align feet, hips and shoulders parallel to the target line. Check alignment before each shot.

Ball position – varies slightly from club to club, but generally forward of center for drivers and center to back for wedges.

Mastering the fundamentals first will establish good habits. Spend time on short game before trying to hit driver 300 yards. Get coaching if you struggle with grip and setup.

Develop a Repeatable Pre-Shot Routine

Having a consistent pre-shot routine is critical to playing your best golf consistently. It keeps your mind properly focused on the execution of each shot.

Here are key elements to incorporate into your routine:

  • Pick a specific target, not just the general area of the green.
  • Take 1-2 practice swings that mimic the actual shot.
  • Visualize the shot shape, trajectory and result.
  • Address the ball, relax grip pressure and get comfortable.
  • Make final alignment and setup checks.
  • Pull the trigger and commit to the swing

Your routine should be the exact same before every full swing, chip, pitch, bunker shot and putt. This builds consistency through repetition.

Know when to teach yourself and when to take lessons

As a beginner, it can be difficult to know when to teach yourself via YouTube and websites versus seeking professional instruction. Here are some guidelines:

Best areas to teach yourself as a beginner:

  • Putting mechanics and drills.
  • Chipping technique and practice games.
  • Bunker technique with step-by-step videos.
  • Golf fitness exercises to improve flexibility.
  • Tips for pre-shot routines.
  • Golf swing positions with photos and illustrations.
  • Effective practice drills.

Topics for professional instruction:

  • Perfecting your grip, stance, posture and alignment.
  • Correcting major swing faults such as over- or over-casting.
  • Achieving proper swing plane and rotation.
  • Increasing swing speed and power.
  • Consistent ball striking and solid contact
  • Shot shaping and trajectory control

Taking a few lessons early on on grip, setup and swing fundamentals can establish good fundamentals and prevent bad habits from forming. Before making any further adjustments, always give swing changes time to bed in.

Practice the right way

Simply hitting balls on the range won’t lead to maximum improvement. You need to practice with purpose and have a specific plan for each session.

Do’s for effective practice:

  • Work on one swing change at a time.
  • Go through your entire pre-shot routine on range balls.
  • Practice different trajectories, not just full shots.
  • Practice trouble shots such as hitting out of the woods.
  • End each session by hitting 5-10 balls well in a row.
  • Practice chipping and putting after range time.

Don’ts for beginner golfers:

  • Don’t just hit driver after driver.
  • Don’t just hit full-swing irons and woods.
  • Don’t neglect short game practice time.
  • Don’t try to fix everything at once.
  • Don’t finish with bad shots that leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Using a deliberate practice framework will accelerate learning. Don’t just hit balls for hours on end. Work on specific skills and self-correct.

Keep your expectations realistic

Golf can humble even the pros. Mistakes and bad shots will happen frequently in the beginning. Here are realistic expectations to have:

  • You’ll struggle with ball striking consistency early on.
  • The driver will highlight any swing mistakes
  • You’ll struggle with nerves and anxiety, especially early on.
  • Increasing swing speed and power.
  • Bad shots will come in bunches
  • Simple bump and run shots will be an effective way to get around the course.
  • Sometimes you’ll want to quit after a bad round.

Understand that challenges are part of the process. Measure your progress in months and years, not days. Embrace the journey.

Learn basic golf rules and etiquette

As a beginner, you don’t need to know every intricate rule, but learning some of the basics shows respect for the game.

Etiquette Guidelines:

  • Keep up with the group in front of you.
  • Stand still and don’t talk during someone’s swing.
  • Don’t walk through another player’s putting line.
  • Keep your voice down and avoid profanity.
  • Replace divots and repair ball marks on greens.
  • Don’t hit into the group in front of you.

Basic rules:

  • No more than 14 clubs allowed in your bag.
  • The ball must be hit between the markers.
  • Don’t ground your club or move loose obstacles in a hazard.
  • Play the ball as it lies, do not move it to improve the lie.
  • Hit a provisional ball when your first shot may be lost/over.

Knowing the basics will help ensure that you don’t delay the game or break any rules. Golf is more enjoyable when played properly within the framework of etiquette and rules designed to keep the game flowing.

Focus on Consistent Ball Striking

Solid, consistent ball striking is the biggest skill that separates beginners from expert golfers. Here are the keys to making good contact:

  • Keep your head and eyes down through impact – don’t lift.
  • Make sure your low point is behind the ball – no digging that leads to fat shots.
  • Hit the ball first, then the turf – press down on the ball.
  • Swing with rhythm and speed – resist trying to kill it.
  • Let the club do the work – don’t flip your hands and release the club prematurely.

Practice hitting balls and taking divots that extend at least 6 inches beyond the ball to improve impact conditions. Good shots will lead to more enjoyment of this challenging game.

Accelerate your short game improvements

On and around the greens, you’ll make more than half of your shots. By sharpening these scoring skills, beginners can drop strokes quickly.


Use a lofted wedge and make crisp contact to lift the ball quickly. Aim to land the ball just short of the hole and let it roll out. Bend the wrist angle and hold it a fraction longer through impact.


Open the face of the wedge slightly and use a putting motion to get up and down. Concentrate on a consistent stroke and trajectory rather than trying to hammer it.


Lag putt close to the hole rather than obsessing over holing each one. Take your time and commit to your read. Focus on distance control. Mark 1, 2 and 3 footers to build confidence.


Don’t help the ball up. Hit 2 inches behind with speed. Practice bunker shots and splash shots so they don’t intimidate you.

Improving your chipping, pitching and putting will quickly lead to better scores and more enjoyment as you progress.

Play Strategically – Course Management Matters

As a beginner, smart course management can save you shots, not just strong mechanics.

Course management tips:

  • Don’t shoot at every pin. Aim for the center of the green.
  • Avoid risky shots over hazards you’re not ready for.
  • Don’t dwell on bad lies – hit out and get back in play.
  • Better to be short of a hazard than in it. Use more club.
  • Miss in smarter spots – away from traps and leave an uphill putt.
  • Don’t go for greens you can’t reach in regulation – lay up.

Playing smart within yourself will minimize big numbers and compounding mistakes during a round.

Have reasonable expectations and be patient.

You won’t become a scratch golfer overnight. Be patient with yourself and the game as you continue to learn.

Golf requires persistence. You will hit bad shots. You may not see the wins right away. But by applying these tips and continuing to practice, subtle progress will accumulate over time.

Most importantly, remember that golf is a game and is meant to be an enjoyable hobby and social activity. As with any beginner sport, avoid putting too much pressure on yourself, especially early on. Not every round or shot has to be perfect.

Golf equipment for beginners explained

Having the right equipment will make the game much more enjoyable when you’re first starting out. Here’s a quick overview of the most important clubs and equipment beginners need.

Types of Golf Clubs

There are 5 main types of clubs needed to hit all the different shots required during a round.


The longest hitting club off the tee. Large club head, long shaft, loft around 10-12 degrees.


Can be used off the tee or fairway. Hybrids are easier to hit than woods for some players. Lofts typically 15-25 degrees.


Shorter clubs used for a range of shots from 150-200 yards into greens. Numbered 3-9 irons.


Used for shots from 100 yards and in. Lofted more than irons for hitting lob and pitch shots. Gap, sand, lob wedges.


The only club used on putting greens. Different lengths, heads and grips to fit your preference and stroke.

As a beginner, you can get away with only 6-7 clubs to play a full course:

  • Driver
  • 5 hybrid (replaces 3-4 iron)
  • 7-iron
  • 9-iron
  • Pitching wedge
  • Sand wedge
  • Putter

No need to carry a full set of 14 clubs when you start out. Work your way up to a full bag as your game improves.

Golf Club Shafts Explained

Shaft material (steel or graphite), flex, length and weight can all affect performance. Here are some important things to know about shafts for beginners:

  • Regular flex best for slower swing speeds (<90mph drivers)
  • Graphite is lighter and can increase swing speed
  • Longer length helps increase distance but can affect accuracy
  • Stiff shafts better for high speed swings but can hurt beginners
  • Get fitted properly as you get more involved in the game

Don’t obsess over shafts, but make sure they are appropriate for your abilities. Regular flex and steel is fine for most.

Choosing the best golf balls

You’re going to lose a lot of golf balls in the beginning. Buy balls that emphasize distance and low spin over soft feel and greenside control.

Look for 2-piece construction. Softer balls compress and spin more on slower swings. Buy balls in bulk for practice on the driving range.

Titleist DT Soft, Callaway Supersoft and Noodle are good beginner golf balls that offer excellent distance.

Golf Clothing and Equipment Overview

While golf attire may seem rigid compared to other sports, the dress code at most courses is relaxed for recreational play.

Here are a few guidelines to help you fit in:


Collared shirts or golf polos are standard. Avoid tank tops or offensive logos/slogans.


Golf shorts or pants provide flexibility and comfort. Denim is usually acceptable. No swimsuits or gym shorts.


Golf shoes have soft spikes for traction on grass. Tennis shoes or sneakers work for beginners. No metal spikes that will damage the greens.


A baseball hat or visor helps block the sun. Be careful not to wear it backwards.

Golf Gloves

Single glove worn on the lead hand only. Helps with grip and prevents blisters.

Golf Bags

Carry bag or cart allows you to transport your clubs. Check course rules – some require carts.

Dress comfortably while maintaining a neat appearance. No need for expensive equipment. Golf should be welcoming to juniors, women, seniors and players of all skill levels.

Golf Rules and Etiquette Quick Guide

While a detailed rules overview is beyond our scope, here are some of the most common rules and etiquette guidelines that beginner golfers need to know:

  • No more than 14 clubs.
  • You are allowed to carry up to 14 clubs in your bag during competition rounds. Count your clubs before you tee off!
  • Ball must be between markers.
  • Your ball must be between and level with (not in front of) the tee markers at the start of a hole.
  • Hit a provisional ball if your first shot may be lost.
  • Hit a second ball if your original shot may be lost or out of bounds. Must declare it a provisional.
  • Play the ball as it lies.
  • Don’t adjust the position of the ball or move loose obstructions (leaves, twigs) around the ball before a shot.
  • Be mindful of other people’s lines.
  • Don’t stand directly behind or walk through another player’s putting line on the green.
  • Keep up with the group in front.
  • Keep pace with the group in front of you so that you do not back up the entire course. Be ready to hit when it’s your turn.
  • Yell ‘Fore’ if your shot is heading towards other golfers.
  • Yell a warning if your ball is about to hit someone on an adjacent fairway or green.
  • Knowing the basics will help you play by the rules and speed up your learning curve. Study before playing in competitive events.

How to develop a repeatable, consistent golf swing

Let’s look at the golf swing mechanics that are most important for beginners to understand.

Proper Setup and Posture

A poor address position makes it very difficult to swing the club effectively.

Stance/Posture Reminders:

  • Feet shoulder width apart.
  • Knees slightly bent.
  • Spine tilted forward from hips.
  • Weight evenly distributed.
  • Shoulder and hip alignment parallel to target.

Ball position

  • Front of center for driver.
  • Center to back for short irons.

Importance of Grip

A poor grip leads to all kinds of problems including slices, pulls and lack of club control.

Key grip fundamentals

  • Neutral to slightly firm grip.
  • Lead hand – thumb pad pointing down right shoulder.
  • Trail hand – palm facing target and rotated counter-clockwise.
  • No gap between hands – interlocked.
  • Apply gentle pressure – avoid death grip suffocation.

Check your grip in a mirror and adjust as needed during range sessions.

Backswing Basics

A poor backswing makes it difficult to get the club into the ball properly on the downswing.

Backswing Reminders:

  • Keep Your Back Aligned and Resist Overswinging
  • Maintain your stance – don’t stand up during the back swing.
  • Rotate shoulders and core for power
  • Keep lead arm connected to body
  • Hinge wrists fully up, don’t ‘cast’ early

Practice half and 3/4 swings focusing on solid fundamentals before attempting full power swings.

Importance of low point and ball impact

After hitting the ball, you need to brush the ground a little bit to compress the ball cleanly.

Ball striking keys:

  • Low point is after the ball, not before.
  • Hit the ball down and through, don’t scoop it.
  • Extend arms after impact – no chicken wing.
  • Divot starts in front of the ball and extends at least 6 inches.

Place an object such as a tee 6 inches in front of the ball. Make sure you hit this object to ensure proper low point.

Mastering grip, stance and solid contact will have you hitting crisp irons in no time. Then you can move on to more advanced swing techniques that include weight shifting, hip release, club release, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most important golf tips for beginners?

The most important tips are to get the proper equipment for your skill level, learn basic setup/grip fundamentals, take lessons if needed, practice short game and putting, play the proper tees, follow etiquette and have realistic expectations.

How many clubs will I need as a beginner?

As a beginner, you can start with as few as 6 clubs – a driver, hybrid, 7 iron, 9 iron, pitching wedge, sand wedge and putter. There is no need for a full 14 club set early on.

How much should a beginning golfer expect to spend on equipment?

You can get a basic set of used clubs for about $200-300. Add in a dozen golf balls ($20), bag ($50), shoes ($50) and a few tees and accessories and you can get started for under $500 total.

Which tee should a beginner use?

Choose the most forward red or yellow tees that play from about 4,500 – 5,000 yards. Don’t play the tees over 6,000 yards as a beginner. Tee it forward!

How many golf balls will a beginner lose in a round?

Expect to lose 3-6 balls during a typical 18 hole round. Bring at least 6 balls and ideally a dozen to be safe. Losing balls is part of learning the game.

What should a beginner’s improvement focus be first?

Work from the green to the tee. Start by dialing in your putting stroke and short game finesse. Then smooth out your iron shots. Once you have a repeatable swing, add the driver.

How long will it take a beginning golfer to break 100?

Breaking 100 regularly can take anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years, depending on your athleticism, dedication to practice, lessons, etc. Be patient and don’t set a strict timeline.