Playing a good game of golf is a topic in itself, but do you want just the basics? Well, then you’re in the right place! You’ll find all you need to know about the swing, the rules, and what to expect when you’re on the course.

This one’s for the amateurs and first-timers out there. Here’s a guide for beginners on how to hit the green!

Golf can be thrilling, exhilarating, frustrating, and maddening. It can be any – or all – of these things to anyone.

– Graham McColl, author of Golf Basics

How Do You Play Golf?

Golf is played by going to a course and trying to get the ball into 18 holes that you play consecutively. You want the ball to be sunk in the designated par, which is the maximum number of shots you should take.

This is a basic overview of how a typical golf hole will look:

The first step is setting up the tee in the designated area known as the tee box and taking a swing. Next, you’ll hit the ball from the rough, fairway, or bunkers. Hitting the ball into the water or out-of-bounds may result in a penalty. Keep using different clubs until the ball goes into the green and eventually into the hole. You’re permitted to go over the par, but it will affect your final score.

Here are a few other things to know about the sport:

You can play solo or with a group.

The time may vary, but it typically takes 2 to 5 hours to play a round of golf.

Not all courses are 18 holes. Some are smaller, while others are larger.

Golf courses can be really strict with their dress code. Check ahead of time.

Don’t participate in competitive games if you’re a newbie.

A game of golf is fairly straightforward, but bring along an expert if you’re unsure where to start. You’ll want someone seasoned to show you the ropes if you’re giving the sport a shot for the first time.

How Do You Play Mini Golf?

Mini golf is played in the same fashion as a traditional golf game, but the only difference is you’re only using a putter versus all the clubs. Another difference is you won’t see giant windmills and clowns if you’re playing a regular game of golf. Not usually.

What Are The Basics of Golf?

Slow down, Tiger! Before you can play in that competition, you need to understand the essentials. Golf comes down to a few basic things:

  • The rules
  • Your swing
  • The right equipment
  • Scoring
  • A good course

Golf is a sport that’s designed for the young and old; men, women, children – everyone can hit the course! If you want to eventually be the best, it’s all about starting with the basics.

What Are the Rules in Golf?

There are many different rules in golf, but if you’re a beginner it’s about knowing how to compete in a stroke play game. Here are a few things to keep in mind so you don’t get kicked off the course:

There’s No Defense

You can’t block a player’s shot or try to interfere with the game, even if the competition gets intense. It’s not cool to try and mess with someone else’s game just because you can’t get that hole-in-one.

Carry Only 14 Clubs

You’re allowed up to 14 clubs in your bag during a competitive round. If you carry any extras, you may be charged penalty strokes for every hole you play.

Order of Play

The player furthest from the hole is the first to stroke. Continue in that order until you get to the putters, in which case the closest ball should go first.

Provisional Ball

If your ball is unplayable (like it’s underwater or in a bush), you get the courtesy of being allowed to hit a ball from your original spot. This keeps the pace of play going and gives you a fair chance.

Adhere to the Dress Code

Some golf clubs have a strict dress code that you have to follow. In other words, don’t show up in a banana suit and expect to be able to play. When in doubt, dress conservatively and neatly.

Ball Falls off the Tee

You can re-tee the ball if it falls off because of wind or some other issue beyond your control. On the other hand, if you completely whiff and the air causes the ball to fall, you have to play the ball as it lies.

Unplayable Lies

There may be obstructions on the course, like runaway golf carts, shrubs, or animals. In these cases, you can get a free drop, which allows you to relocate the ball fairly.

No Joyrides in the Golf Cart

A golf cart is considered a vehicle like any other. This means you are subject to citations, fines, or a lost license if you don’t obey traffic laws, signals, and signs on the road.

One Stroke Penalties

This is when a stroke is added to your score, even though you didn’t take a swing. A one-stroke penalty can occur if you lose a ball, yours goes out of bounds, there’s a water hazard, or if you intentionally or unintentionally move a ball.

Two Stroke Penalties

A two-stroke penalty is a more serious offense. You may receive this penalty during a game if you play the wrong ball or even if you ask for advice during a super competitive round!

There are many fine details when it comes to playing golf. If you want to stick by the book, be sure to check out the official rules as published by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

It used to be a rule in golf that a player could replace their ball if a dog happened to carry it off the course during gameplay.

How to Swing a Golf Club

Swinging a golf club is not as difficult as it may seem. All you have to do is follow these steps:

  1. One

    Square your feet.

  2. Two

    Align your shoulders.

  3. Three

    Grip the club correctly.

  4. Four

    Stand directly behind the ball.

  5. Five

    Slightly bend your knees.

  6. Six

    Keep your eyes on the ball and your arms nice and straight.

  7. Seven

    Take a swing.

  8. Eight

    Yell “fore!” if the ball might end up hitting someone.

Your swing can be pretty good if you have the right technique, but if you’re serious about golf as a sport, you may want to work with a professional. They’ll help you master your swing and give you tips and tricks so you can graduate to the big leagues.

Golf Digest recommends not letting the pressure of the game affect your swing. You’ll tense up and it could affect your stance.

How Do You Grip a Golf Club Correctly?

There are many ways to hold the club, but you ultimately want to find the one that’s most comfortable to you. The different ways to grip a golf club include:

  1. Neutral Grip
  2. Strong Grip
  3. Weak Grip
  4. Interlocking Grip
  5. Vardon Grip
  6. Baseball Grip

Neutral Grip

The index finger of each hand is down the center of the shaft. You should be able to see three knuckles on each hand.

Strong Grip

The index fingers of each hand are right of center on the shaft. You can only see the knuckles on your left hand.

Weak Grip

The index fingers are left of center on the shaft. You can only see the knuckles on your right hand.

Interlocking Grip

Both hands are connected through the right pinky finger and the left index finger. These fingers cross over each other rather than sitting on top of each other.

Vardon Grip

Both hands are connected through the left pinky finger, which lies between the left hand’s index and middle fingers and works as an anchor, keeping the right hand in close proximity to the left.

Baseball Grip

Both hands are pressed against each other on the grip with no pinky finger working as an anchor. The right pinky finger will simply lie next to the left index finger, as if you were holding a baseball bat.

Your grip is a matter of preference and comfort. Experiment with the different styles until you find the one that works for you!

Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all time and a PGA Player of the Year, favors the interlocking grip.

What Do You Need to Play Golf?

You need a ball, club, and a few holes in the ground to play golf. Of course, there are some other things that are helpful to have on the course.

Here’s the full list of what you should bring to a golf game:

It’s also recommended to come prepared with other accessories like an umbrella in case it rains and good shoes or cleats for walking around the fairway.

Ultimately, you just need good equipment, the right attitude, and a smile to go play golf. And if you are a beginner, just make that clear ahead of time with your golfing partners. The last thing you want is for them to get angry because you’re not keeping up.

How to Keep Score in Golf

Golf is different than other sports like basketball or volleyball in that the lower score is the one that wins. The champ will have the fewest number of shots at the end of the course.

First, you want to add up how many total pars are on the course. Usually, this will be between 70 and 72 strokes. Next, you want to add how many total strokes you had during the game. Finally, subtract your number of strokes from the total pars on the course. That’s your final score!

You’ll come either under, even, or over that number. The player with the lowest number (usually negative or on par) will win the game.

This chart has an example to help you see how the scoring works:

Cameron is the winner as he has the lowest score of all four players. Janet is a close second as she was also under par, whereas Tom wasn’t having the greatest game that day. Keep practicing, Tom!

What Are the Top Golf Courses in the World?

Now that you got the gist of how to play golf, the next step is finding a cool course to play the game! Here are some of the best golf courses in the world:

  1. St. Andrews (Old Course)
  2. Pebble Beach Golf Links
  3. Pinehurst No. 2
  4. Assoufid Golf Club
  5. Dinosaur Mountain
  6. Old Head
  7. August National Golf Club
  8. Capilano Golf & Country Club
  9. Pine Valley
  10. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

St. Andrews (Old Course)

Location: St. Andrews, Scotland

Take a tour through history and play in the very country where golf was born! St. Andrews is home to the oldest golf club of all time, making it an ideal location to hit the green!

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Location: Pebble Beach, California

Pebble Beach is always on the list of the top golf courses. It’s been home to various tournaments and competitions, and with such gorgeous views, it’s no wonder why!

Pinehurst No. 2

Location: Pinehurst, North Carolina

This 70 par course is part of one of the largest golf resorts in the world. It’s the place to go if you want to feel like a champ as it’s been home to multiple U.S. Opens.

Assoufid Golf Club

Location: Marrakech, Morocco

You’ll be coming around the mountain at the Assoufid Golf Club in Morocco! This course is set up right beside the Atlas Mountains, which makes the terrain a bit challenging, but incredibly fun.

Dinosaur Mountain

Location: Gold Canyon, Arizona

Not only will you enjoy mountain and desert views, but there’s also the chance of spotting wildlife while you play! It makes for a fun and unpredictable golf outing.

Old Head

Location: Kinsale, Ireland

Golf right next to the Atlantic Ocean by visiting this scenic course! There’s also a famous lighthouse on location that makes a great backdrop for your victory pictures.

August National Golf Club

Location: Augusta, Georgia

This famous club was hailed by Golf Digest as one of America’s 100 greatest golf courses. The course features lush greenery, azaleas and dogwoods at every hole, and even bird sounds coming through hidden speakers!

Capilano Golf & Country Club

Location: West Vancouver, British Columbia

You’ll enjoy natural beauty and a world-class design at this course. It was built by Stanley Thompson, a famous golf course architect who also played a few games in his time.

Pine Valley

Location: Pine Valley, New Jersey

Do you want to be challenged? Take a swing at Pine Valley! This course was ranked #1 in Golf Magazine’s top courses and is world-renowned for not having any out-of-bounds areas.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

Location: Southampton, New York

Shinnecock Hills is one of the oldest golf clubs in the United States and the first to admit women. The course offers nice greenery and water views and is credited as one of the five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association (USGA).

These courses are not only challenging and fun, but the views are breathtaking and you can get a nice vacation out of the deal! Go ahead and practice at any of these scenic locations.

Why Do We Love Golf?

Golf has been a favorite pastime for hundreds of years. It’s a game that requires skill and precision, but it’s also relaxing and easy to play if you’re catching up with friends or want to make a business meeting a little more fun.

There are an estimated 23.8 million people who enjoy playing golf in the United States alone. Whether you go to the mini golf course or do the full 18 holes, it’s a fun way to enjoy the sunshine and spend an afternoon!

Stats for Success

There are more than 16,000 golf courses in the United States.

2.5 million golfers played for the first time in 2016.

Over $3.94 billion was raised for charity in one year through golf tournaments and activities.

The Bottom Line

The game of golf can be as simple as mini golf or as complex as a full-fledged competition. These are just the basics on how to play the game. Now get to the green and take a swing!

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a super cool Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. She’s a fan of diving into the history of some of the earliest promos on the planet. If you need her, you’ll find her buried in research, in the middle of a phone interview, or singing way off-tune in her office.


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About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.