The aim in golf is to get a small hard ball from point A to Point B by striking it with a set of specially made clubs in as few strokes as possible. The game of golf has its own set of rules and regulations that every golfer must follow. The first step is following the correct dress code. Players on the course must wear a collared t-shirt, trousers or shorts (never jeans or tacks) and socks higher than the ankle. Once you look like a golfer you can get round actually playing the game.
The beginning is the worst part. Hitting that little ball will seem like the most difficult thing in the world and when you do make contact it will go whizzing off target and into the rough. Every golfer goes through a rough spell at the start. Even naturals have a dodgy first swing or two. Don't let that deter you. Learning to use a golf club is like learning to use a new limb. With constant practice, the club will become an extension of your arm and the swing will come naturally. The first step to getting a good swing is perfecting the grip.
A good grip is the foundation of a good swing. If you are right handed, grip the top of the shaft with your left hand so that your thumb is facing straight down the center-line of the shaft then twist it ever so slightly to the right. The twist firms up your wrist, ensuring that the left arm and the hand work as a single unit. Now take your right hand and open your palm up, keeping the line of your fingers perpendicular to the ground, then bring it in to grip the club. Interlock your right little-finger and your left index finger on the underside of the shaft and grip your left thumb on the inside of your right palm as the rest of your fingers go all the way around the shaft. To complete the grip, point your right thumb down the center line of the shaft and twist it ever so slightly the left. This is known as the Vardon overlapping grip. Club securely gripped, you're ready to address the ball.
Addressing the ball is how you set up before your swing. Correct posture is vital to making sure that you get a clean connection each and every time. Aim your club-face towards your target right behind the ball. Imagine a straight line going from your club-face to your target then angle your body so that the line of your feet is parallel to the line of the club-face to your target. Square your shoulders. Keep your feet a few feet apart and bend towards the ball with from the waist, keeping your back straight. Keep your body weight on the balls of your feet and flex your knees slightly. Take your time before each and every swing to ensure that you have the correct posture, take a deep breath and get ready to swing.
Swinging at the ball is more complex than just heaving at it. The swing is arguably the hardest part of playing. Make it simple by breaking your swing down into stages. The first stage is the back-swing. Take the club backwards by making a shoulder turn about your spine. Pull the club back along the imaginary line the target as far as possible and it will reach a point where the lift happens naturally. Keep the back-swing going until your left shoulder is near your right armpit. Your left arm will be parallel the ground at the top of your back-swing and your wrists will be cocked at 90 degrees with the club behind you. Remember to keep your left foot planted firmly for stability. Now for the down-sing. As the club comes down shift your weight to the left. Move your left knee towards the target and swing through the arc of your back-swing. Allow your arms to extend fully on impact and keep your left elbow straight for as long as possible through the follow-through to keep your shot straight. Keep your eyes glued to the ball all of the way through the swing, and you can't miss. Try not to force the swing. Golf is about how many strokes, not how far you can hit the ball.
Now that you've learnt the basics it is time to get some practice in. Pros aren't made in day. Head down to a local driving range and tee up with a bucket of about 50 balls. Most driving ranges have a registered pro on call. Seek the pro out and ask for guidance on how to perfect your swing. A pro is more likely to see the parts of your swing you haven't gotten right yet. The more times you hit the range, the better your game will become. While you're at the range, check in at the pro shop and ask about which equipment is right for you.
The right equipment always helps. Second hand balls are best for beginners as they are cheaper and beginners are likely to lose a fair share of them. Second-hand clubs are a good idea as well. A complete set of clubs has about 13 pieces. Each club has different lofts and heads. Iron heads are the ones that you will use the most. Each iron has a different length and loft to give your shots different distances and heights. Gloves are optional and are usually only worn on one hand. Choosing the right shoes however are vital. Golf shoes have studded soles to keep the wearer from slipping on the grass mid-swing. Make sure that you get golf shoes with rubber studs. Metal studs are now banned at golf courses.
This is just the beginning. If you get a feel for the game and want to keep playing, register at your local golf club and hand in your cards after every game to earn yourself a handicap.
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