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Thread: Learning to Golf

  1. #1
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    Learning to Golf

    I can learn anything on the internet from playing the guitar to learning how to cook. What about learning how to golf? I am sure there are resources out there but what have people used that actually worked?

    Also what about taking lessons? Has anyone taken lessons and had success? The wife and I want to start playing and we went to the driving range yesterday with much hilarity but we would actually like to learn the game together.

  2. #2
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    Take lessons. Then practice. Then take more lessons.

    There are very few people who have the hand-eye coordination to pick up golf without instruction. The swing and grip are very alien and there's very little hope of learning it properly out of a book. I've heard of people supposedly learning to swing the club using Ben Hogan's Golf My Way, but I think those cases are few and far between. Find a decent pro that you're comfortable with, take lessons and then set aside time to practice and play.

    I remember taking lessons about 25 years ago. I got a few looks since people didn't see too many minorities in the South taking golf lessons back then. And lessons can help quite a bit. I went from shooting 110 to shooting in the mid 80s after taking lessons.
    Last edited by Blackadar; 06-28-2010 at 09:19 AM.

  3. #3
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    Yeah that is kinda what I figured about lessons. I guess the problem I have with lessons is finding a decent instructor that doesn't charge an arm and a leg and that is actually a decent teacher.

  4. #4
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    I learned a lot from this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Nicklaus-.../dp/0684852128

    The most important thing to learn is getting the grip and stance right. It's actually not all that easy to even aim your shot right. You think you are aligned properly and then hit a beautiful straight shot that goes 30 yards left because that's where your aim was actually aligned.

    Try to get an idea about the fundamentals, spend a lot of time on the range, and play the easier courses at first (flat, not too long, etc.). Lessons are a good idea too, but I never had any and I play a decent game of golf.

    Also, and this is not generally known, but a body of water serves as a magnet that attracts golf balls. The green is 150 yards away, but there's a small pond just 30 yards away. The ball will attempt to fly in a low trajectory, skimming along the grass until it finds the water, rather than fly up in the air over the water. It's a fact!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Asher View Post
    Even better thanks! Ordered it from amazon for 4 bucks with free shipping!

    I am pretty decent with the clubs but I am more interested in getting my wife into it. We both had a lot of fun at the driving range and I want to make sure that her having fun at the range translates to her having fun on the course.

  6. #6
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    Our family lived in St Andrews for a year when I was in high school (Dad was on sabbatical); I turned down the opportunity to take golf as a class in school for free because, you know, fifteen years old, didn't want to do the obvious stuff that everyone does. Had to be contrarian.

    I am such an idiot.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Even better thanks! Ordered it from amazon for 4 bucks with free shipping!

    I am pretty decent with the clubs but I am more interested in getting my wife into it. We both had a lot of fun at the driving range and I want to make sure that her having fun at the range translates to her having fun on the course.
    You might try a par 3 course at first. And if you can play at a time when it's not too busy, that would help. It's nice if you don't feel like you are holding up other players. Plus, if no one's behind, you can let her play mulligans.

    And don't keep score. She doesn't need to know she shot a 110. On the front nine.

    That Nicklaus book is really good though. It's easy to understand and it's full of great tips for any golfer, no matter how good.

  8. #8
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    If you're going to buy books, you need this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/Ben-Hogans-Fiv...7742662&sr=1-5

    It breaks down the fundamentals of the swing better than any book before or since. And Dave Peltz has some good books for chipping/putting.

    As for lessons, they're well worth the cost. A round of golf on a weekend is going to take 5 hours and cost $35 to $50 (or more). Playing like shit doesn't make for an enjoyable time. You usually can find less expensive but certified instructors at driving ranges rather than at the golf course. Also, a good par 3 course can be your friend in learning how to play, but make sure it has long enough holes. Playing a par 3 course where the average hole is 70 yards will just screw up your game something awful.

    Oh, and finally...if you're going to learn how to play, also learn the etiquette that goes along with the game. This includes things like knowing where to stand when someone is hitting the ball, attending the flag, repairing divots and ball marks, not driving down the middle of the fairway, fast play, etc. Nothing will get you dis-invited from a group faster than not knowing the proper etiquette.

    PS - on an unfamiliar course, do NOT trust the yardage markers. :)

  9. #9
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    You might try a par 3 course at first. And if you can play at a time when it's not too busy, that would help. It's nice if you don't feel like you are holding up other players. Plus, if no one's behind, you can let her play mulligans.
    Yeah that is another good idea. I know part of the reason she liked the driving range was because she could go at her own pace and not have to worry about anyone watching her mess up. I am going to try and find a nice short course that we can try out.

  10. #10
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    Marcus, I recently decided to break my swing down and see if I could build a pro-style (if not level) swing, since I'm still young enough and flexible enough to attempt it. So I've been doing quite a bit of analysis, research, testing, and fixing.

    First and foremost, stay the hell away from your wife, at least as far as teaching goes. She'll quickly grow frustrated from your suggestions. Get her lessons and quick!

    Second, if you're lucky I'll remember to check back through my Golf Digests, they had an article listing the best municiple teachers in America. Top-flight instruction for around 40
    $/half hour is a sweet deal. Don't worry too much about finding some uber-coach, I would imagine you're nowhere near needing that person yet. I know I'm not.

    Third, you need to be prepared to admit your swing is terrible, because it pretty much has to be if you haven't made a conscious effort at developing it. I've played since I was 13 and have recently found about three things that would have put me on a college team, had I known and cared back then.

    Once I find a municiple instructor, I would advise going to him and asking for a complete fundamental rundown. A lot of teachers will just try to tweak your current swing (and if you drop a few shots per round, they've "succeeded") rather than building a better swing. You're young and fit IIRC (fairly newish cop, right?) so there's no reason you can't have a great swing.

    Other than that, don't take it too seriously for a long time. Forget the bad shots immediately, remember the good shots as long as possible. Oh, and some ultra-important tips for the aspiring hacker:

    1. WATCH EVERY SHOT TO THE GROUND. This is a HUGE problem with new/bad golfers, and one that sucks all the fun out of the game. You hit a bad shot, look away in disgust, then you lose your ball because you didn't watch it. Follow it to the ground, find landmarks, if you top it into dense cover close to the tee, lock your eyes on the spot it went in and then walk directly there after everyone hits. Losing balls ruins golf.

    2. PLAY TO THE COURSE'S PACE. Don't buy expensive golf balls, I beg of you. They do not matter until you're breaking eighty all the time. If you want a great ball, buy the Top Flite Gamer 2, a 3-piece for around $1 a ball, don't buy 4$ ProV1s. You need to look for a lost ball for about 3 minutes, then give up, drop out, and hit. Enjoying golf is all about moving on from the bad parts. This also allows you to not hold up the group behind you as you hack around.

    3. Swing Easy. Keep your head down. Keep your arm straight. Turn the shoulders, not the hips. Etc.

    H.

    P.S. If you do have any specific questions, I'll be glad to answer them if I know the answer. Like every golfer, I know the swing a hell of a lot better than I execute the swing.
    Last edited by Houngan; 06-28-2010 at 11:09 AM.

  11. #11
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    So wait I thought Chubs said "its all in the hips. Its all in the hips".

  12. #12
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    None of it is in the hips. Scary stuff gets lodged in your head, that's what the fundamental breakdown is for.

    Another book to check out is The Impact Zone by Bobby Clampett, it covers the big themes of the swing rather than the typically-counterproductive minutae. An important point to understand is that every pro golfer looks pretty much identical from a foot behind and a foot in front of the ball.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Houngan View Post
    Second, if you're lucky I'll remember to check back through my Golf Digests, they had an article listing the best municiple teachers in America. Top-flight instruction for around 40
    $/half hour is a sweet deal. Don't worry too much about finding some uber-coach, I would imagine you're nowhere near needing that person yet. I know I'm not.
    Is this what you're referring to? http://www.golfdigest.com/images/ran...e_teachers.pdf

    Thanks for the heads up about that. Now that I'm working again, I'm ready to take lessons to try and improve my game. I'm going to try and contact some of these people.

  14. #14
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    I just recently finished some golf lessons (group) that was a present from my wife. Note that I've never played golf before and my experience consist of mini golf and being dragged out to driving ranges by friend to randomly smack a ball around.

    I found that a live instructor looking at what I was doing made a difference to me (a complete novice). The big advantage is that the instructors could see what I was doing wrong and correct it whereas I thought I was doing it correctly, yet it was an epic fail.

    For example, we were practicising hitting with a driver, and I was hard pressed to even make consistent contact. One of instructors came over and observed what I was doing, and then made adjustments to my stance, grip, and swing. I thought I was already doing those things, but it was quite apparent I wasn't. After the adjustments, I was able to spray balls all over the place with a driver. I still sucked, but I was making consistent contact, and really, the balls weren't flying off at weird angles nearly as much.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by delirium View Post
    Is this what you're referring to? http://www.golfdigest.com/images/ran...e_teachers.pdf

    Thanks for the heads up about that. Now that I'm working again, I'm ready to take lessons to try and improve my game. I'm going to try and contact some of these people.
    Ah Awesome list!

    What a shame though that there are so few in LA though.

  16. #16
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    That's the list, for once in creation it might work to your disadvantage to live in a huge metropolis, since all the listings will be fancypants. I just looked on the list and found the muni course, which happens to be 3 blocks from my new house. :-)

    H.

  17. #17
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    This is from PCC's extended learning classes. I've heard good things.

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    One other tip. Don't get frustrated. Learning golf has lots of plateaus and you'll wonder why you seemed to improve for a while and now haven't improved in a few months. That happens. Get used to it. Enjoy the game for what it is, and don't worry about some odd missed shots or apparent stalls in your progress.

  19. #19
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    Don't laugh, but I actually found Golf for Dummies by Gary McCord very helpful when I was first learning to play golf. It's readable, entertaining, and lays out all the basics including etiquette. I had my doubts, but so many folks recommended it at the time that I picked it up and was glad I did.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freezer-TPF- View Post
    Don't laugh, but I actually found Golf for Dummies by Gary McCord very helpful when I was first learning to play golf. It's readable, entertaining, and lays out all the basics including etiquette. I had my doubts, but so many folks recommended it at the time that I picked it up and was glad I did.
    Not at all, I rarely try to acquire any new skill without checking the For Dummies book. Love 'em.

    H.

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    I played golf once in my life, but now both my kids are playing and I live in a golf community walking distance from a course. I guess I should get off my lazy ass and finally learn the game at 40+.

    My kids actually play at the course Caddyshack was filmed at which I always get a kick out of when picking them up.

  22. #22
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    One bonus about taking lessons: at some point, everything will click and you'll be bombing 4 irons 230 yards on the driving range on a consistent basis. You may not be able to take that to the course with any success, but it's damn satisfying to see yourself doing it. :D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Houngan View Post

    2. PLAY TO THE COURSE'S PACE. Don't buy expensive golf balls, I beg of you. They do not matter until you're breaking eighty all the time. If you want a great ball, buy the Top Flite Gamer 2, a 3-piece for around $1 a ball, don't buy 4$ ProV1s. You need to look for a lost ball for about 3 minutes, then give up, drop out, and hit. Enjoying golf is all about moving on from the bad parts. This also allows you to not hold up the group behind you as you hack around.
    On this note, a lot of courses in England sell lake balls (balls they've fished out of water hazards) for a couple of quid for a bag. I found them to be good value for money, especially as beginnner golfers lose a lot of balls!

  24. #24
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    The most important thing you need to know about golf is this. If you get a buggy to drive yourself around, a lot of the time they'll have a limiter put on them to stop them going too fast and toppling over. The important thing to note is that the limiter doesn't work when you're going in reverse. I spent three summers working on a course, most of that fucking about in buggys and on small tractors. Great fun if you can get over the sometimes rainy days and the 6am starts.


    Real advice. If you play with other people who are better than you, see if once in a while they'll play this way with you. I don't know what it's called, but it can be more fun for a mixed set of skills, because it helps you compare shots. Everyone tees off as normal, then whichever of the shots was best, you all hit a ball from that spot. Then you take whichever of those shots was best, until eventually one of you putts the ball first. If you're competitive, it's fun because eventually the beginner will hit a shot that's much better than the experts, and you can lord it over them for the next minute or so. But also it allows you to play from the positions a good player would be in, instead of continually having to hit it out of the rough. I've played that way a couple of times, and it's a good laugh, if you don't mind your shot not being used too often.

    I'm sure there are other "gamey" ways to play golf, and it can keep you entertained and relaxed if you sometimes get stuck in a rage about your own terrible game. (Which will happen unless you're the most relaxed person on the face of the earth.)

    If you're on a snooty course though, ask in the shop first if they mind you playing that way.

  25. #25
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    That's a scramble format.

  26. #26
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    Scramble is a great idea for beginners playing with better players. (I don't think I'd suggest it to strangers I just met on the first tee, though.) You can even do it just for the tee shot if you want, especially on longer holes.

  27. #27
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    Necro and heh, I'm such a funny guy.


    I'm planning on heading back to the driving range, and maybe get a few lessons. I need to do something outdoors and this (and cycling) look like options. The current hand me down set of clubs is missing a few clubs, probably due to sharing them with my brother. So I may need to get a new set once I hit a course, after some lessons. Are the $300 to $350 or so beginners sets worth buying? I don't have any more cash than that (in fact I have none of it all) so would renting clubs at the course make a better proposition? While I keep the mixed set for the driving range.


    Also, Marcus, are you and your wife still playing? How's it going?

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buceph View Post
    Necro and heh, I'm such a funny guy.


    I'm planning on heading back to the driving range, and maybe get a few lessons. I need to do something outdoors and this (and cycling) look like options. The current hand me down set of clubs is missing a few clubs, probably due to sharing them with my brother. So I may need to get a new set once I hit a course, after some lessons. Are the $300 to $350 or so beginners sets worth buying? I don't have any more cash than that (in fact I have none of it all) so would renting clubs at the course make a better proposition? While I keep the mixed set for the driving range.


    Also, Marcus, are you and your wife still playing? How's it going?
    Don't buy brand names, don't buy beginner clubs. If you must have brand name clubs then buy a two-year-old set off of Craigslist. I always buy small component shop clubs, like gigagolf.com. The quality is excellent and the performance is equal to name brands. It takes a bit of awareness to separate the actual club builders from the knockoff shops, but you can get a great set of clubs for under $200. For instance:

    http://www.pinemeadowgolf.com/golf-c...r1.mark2.irons

    You should probably get a hybrid 3,4, and maybe even 5 iron. The pros are starting to play them so there's no shame in it. Lastly, don't believe the hype on drivers, either. I put one together for next to nothing and I tend to drive the short par 4s around town, those $400 yearly model upgrades are just a cash funnel to the maker.

    H.

    Edit: Actually, get these: http://www.pinemeadowgolf.com/golf-c...nterossa.irons

    You want game improvement irons (everyone, and I mean everyone who isn't better than scratch benefits from game improvement irons.)

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Houngan View Post
    Don't buy brand names, don't buy beginner clubs. If you must have brand name clubs then buy a two-year-old set off of Craigslist. I always buy small component shop clubs, like gigagolf.com. The quality is excellent and the performance is equal to name brands. It takes a bit of awareness to separate the actual club builders from the knockoff shops, but you can get a great set of clubs for under $200. For instance:

    http://www.pinemeadowgolf.com/golf-c...r1.mark2.irons

    You should probably get a hybrid 3,4, and maybe even 5 iron. The pros are starting to play them so there's no shame in it. Lastly, don't believe the hype on drivers, either. I put one together for next to nothing and I tend to drive the short par 4s around town, those $400 yearly model upgrades are just a cash funnel to the maker.

    H.

    Do you know of any European businesses doing that? (Customs from America would kill me.)

  30. #30
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    http://www.gamolagolf.co.uk/acatalog/Golf_Irons.html

    is the only one I could find but I have no knowledge of Benross clubs. I'm afraid you're on your own for due diligence, but look for terms like "game improvement," "cavity back," "enlarged sweet spot," and "perimeter weighted." (reminds me of a girl I knew.) Avoid things like "tour," "blade," "traditional," or "forged."

    H.

    Or here: http://www.ukcustomgolf.co.uk/products.asp?CategoryId=2

    But please call them and satisfy yourself that they seem above-board. You get a lot of yahoos in this business.

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