My Golf Instructor

Getting Started Tips

Video Tips on Getting Started

I am 65 years young and i have just started playing golf. What clubs do I need? I am female and right handed, 5'3" tall.
On par 3's should you tee the ball up or is it o.k. if you feel comfortable hitting without one?

Premium Tips

(Click on Title or Image to View Larger Photos)

  • Always Seek Out a Certified Instructor

    When starting out if you are looking for quality golf lessons the first step is to seek out an LPGA or PGA certified professional. The next step is to find one that teaches full time if you can. This means they devote 100% of their time out on the lesson tee and are an expert in the field of golf instruction. Remember too, you get what you pay for. Often times inexpensive college courses or courses offered at your park district are taught by non professionals or at the very best an apprentice professional. Make sure the instructor has some sort of certification and a reasonable amount of experience.

  • Establishing a Handicap is Simple

    To establish a handicap you need to join a club or association that offers a handicapping system. This doesn't mean actually join an expensive country club. Almost all courses including municipal courses near you will have a club where you can join and start posting scores. After you have accumulated 5 scores you will receive your handicap index which you can take with you when you compete courses other than your home course. After that your handicap will always be figured on your 10 lowest rounds of the last 20 rounds you played.

  • No Need For a Full Set When Starting Out

    To learn the game you don't need a full set of clubs. You may have noticed that many starter sets come as a partial set. Many manufactures have programs where you can add clubs back in later or trade the starter set in for a more advanced set. Clubs that are critical to have to begin learning are a putter, a wedge (I prefer the sand wedge), a mid iron and a fairway wood. This way you can learn all aspects of the game. Then as you progress and you start to see a difference in the distance you hit various clubs, you can add clubs back in to your set.

  • Wait Until Your Swing Develops to Get Fit

    If you are just starting out with the game, don't be in a rush to get custom fitted clubs. Over the next couple of years your swing will change often as it develops into the swing you desire. The last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of money on clubs that might not fit you in two years. This is not to say you shouldn't try to find clubs that have the right length, shaft flex and lie angle for you, just know that these specs will most likely change over time.

  • Find People to Play With

    As a new golfer you are probably looking for more people to play with. Almost all public courses will offer leagues that you can join. If your course doesn't I'm sure there is another one in your area that does. If not, joining clinics or group classes is a great way to meet people and form playing groups. Also, try asking the pro at your local course as he or she may know other golfers looking to play as well and you might even be able to post a request on the bulletin board.

  • If You're Lefty, Play Lefty

    If you are left handed should you play golf left handed? The modern answer to that question is "yes." In the old days it was hard to come by equipment for left handed golfers and it was also difficult to receive proper instruction from that side of the ball. Those problems are gone with advancements in equipment, instruction and the increase in left handed players. If you are a lefty that grew up throwing and batting from the right side however, I suggest you stay with the side you are used to in sports and swing right handed.

  • Should You Wear a Glove?

    The question often comes up with beginners as to whether or not you should wear a glove while you play golf. While many good players have been successful without one, the vast majority of professionals do wear one. I suggest that you try to get comfortable with a glove to help on hot days when your palms are sweaty and especially if you get sweaty palms when nervous. It's nice to have that extra traction to help prevent slippage and blisters.

  • Learn Basic Rules & Etiquette

    If you are a beginner, one of the best things you can do for yourself is take time to learn the basic rules and etiquette. You are going to be a bit nervous and uneasy anyway if you get paired up with experienced players when you are a novice golfer, so you don't want to make it worse, by not knowing what to do in basic situations. Learn penalties such as out of bounds, hazards, lost ball and hitting the flag while putting. Learn basic etiquette such as how to tend the flag, order of play and where to stand while others are hitting. The more of the basics you know, the more comfortable you will be and the more fun you will have.

  • Can't Go Wrong With a 2 Piece Ball

    As a beginner I recommend that you look for a good 2 piece ball to start with. They are more durable and will help you with distance. There are many that will give you distance off of the tee, but still help with spin and control around the greens. There's hardly a player that couldn't use both of those so you can't go wrong if you are just starting out and go with a 2 piece ball. As your game progresses it's a good idea to go get a ball fitting on a launch monitor to make sure the ball you are playing matches your needs.

  • Arm Yourself With Proper Supplies

    Besides clubs and balls some of the items you will need to play golf are: a glove, a ball marker, tees, a towel, a rain cover or umbrella, sunscreen, a snack, scorecard and pencil, water and a mini first aid kit with band aids, aspirin, etc.. It's also a good idea to wear a hat or visor and sunglasses to prevent glare and protect your eyes even if it doesn't seem like a super sunny day. I also recommend dressing in layers that you can shed on cool days in case you warm up as you play. Keep in mind the more prepared you are the more enjoyable your round will be.

Getting Started Tips from the Ask Maria Archive

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
- More about Maria
- Golf Questions
Golf instruction made simple
Golf Overview
Overall Game
- Getting Started
- Equipment
- Golf Fitness
- Junior Golf
- Mental Game
- Practice
- Rules of Golf
Short Game
- Bunkers
- Chipping
- Pitching
- Putting
Full Swing
- Pre-Swing Fundamentals
- Shot Making
- Diagnosing Problems
- Driving
- Hybrids and Woods
- Irons
Playing Golf
Ball Striking
- Fitness (78)
- Course Management (82)
- Getting Started in Golf (75)
- Practice (66)
Course Management
- Club Selection (66)
- Equipment (107)
- Driving (68)
- Putting (127)
- Golf Rules (69)
Short Game
- Bump and Run (72)
- Chipping (82)
Ball Striking
- Chunking (79)
- Distance Control (86)
- Fat Shots (92)
- Flipping (48)
- Poor Accuracy (118)
- Slicing (48)
- Thin Shots (85)
- Topped Shots (52)
- Lack of Distance (108)
- Putting Accuracy (72)
Swing Plane
- Blocking (50)
- Inside Out (56)
- Outside In (59)
- Over the Top (49)
- Pulling (54)
- Pushing (66)
- Releasing Early (47)
The Swing
- Grip (65)
- Alignment (55)
- Balance (50)
- Ball Position (80)
- Posture (77)
- Setup (117)
Swing Plane
- Backswing (84)
- Controlling Trajectory (47)
- Divot (48)
- Downswing (67)
- Impact (103)
- On Plane (85)
- Path (84)
- Power (71)
- Shaft Plane (63)
- Swing Plane (112)
- Weight Shift (79)