I don’t like unnecessary paragraphs. Let’s get right to the best list of golf tips for beginners.
Tip #1: As a beginner, focus on the fundamentals first. Don’t skip this.
Grip, alignment, posture. Remember “GAP” if you often forget. I can’t stress how important the fundamentals of golf are for beginners.
Let’s take them step by step.
Grip: A golfer can make any grip work. You’ll just have to make changed at impact to make it work, either by pronating your wrists (google if you need to) or excessive forearm rotation to turn the club face over.
General rule: if you keep missing right or slicing, you could strengthen your grip (by turning your hands right/clockwise on the club more, for righties). You’ll be able to see more knuckles on you left hand at address. This will encourage the club to be more closed at impact, as opposed to wide open.
If you are missing left or hooking, you could probably use a weaker grip, where the hands are turned more left and you can see less knuckles at address on your left hands (for righties, again). This will open the face a little more at impact, which will help you to stop missing the ball left due to a closed face.
Stand up and hold a club right now if have one handy. Now exaggerate things: start with a very weak grip, where you can’t see any knuckles on your lead (top) hand. See where you will end up at impact.
Now, switch it and go to a very strong grip. See how the clubface will come into impact with a much more closed face.
Don’t change your grip too often, as it is a touch change to make and can really discourage you for the time it takes to fix it.
To make the change easier, I’d recommend grabbing a practice club with a molded grip. They tend to lean towards a slightly strong lead hand and a neutral right hand, which is exactly what I recommend.
I recommend this slightly strong grip so that you won’t have to turn the club face over with your hands/wrists at impact. You will simply have to rotate your torso through the ball and the clubface should be square.
Alignment: Alignment is very easy to get wrong. And if you don’t practice it, it will stay wrong.
Now, by no means do you HAVE to have perfect alignment, but it makes golf easier.
If you always aim right, without even noticing it or thinking about it, you are going to keep slicing a little more as you keep aiming right.
So yeah, if you are slicing, DON’T keep aiming more right to “adjust for it”. You are making your slice worse. You need to start aiming square or even to the right so that you can learn to turn the club over and come from the inside to hit a straight or right-to-left shot.
If you always aim right (which is what I did for so long), you will probably start coming over the top (steep downswing) or hit huge, sweeping hooks to get the ball where you want to go. Neither of those will be consistent.
If anything, I would suggest you aim square or even a little left (for right handed golfers). Because if you aim a little left and learn to hit from the inside, you can “aim left and swing right” like Lee Trevino used to say, leading to a lot of straight or slight fade shots.
To consistently aim straight, get a pair of driveway markers from Home Depot or your local home improvement store. They are $1-3 each as opposed to $20 golf alignment sticks. If you ever wondered what those orange sticks in player’s bags are, that’s it.
Use these alignment sticks/ driveway markers to start off every range session. For righties, set them up to aim at a target (probably a little left of the target to adjust for the distance between your feet and the ball). Put your feet in line with them and the ball a normal distance away. After you feel comfortable that you are aiming correctly, you can take the stick away and hit balls normally.
Posture: your posture will affect your swing far more than you imagine. There are lots of combinations of posture and swing adjustments that make good golf swings.
My best advice would be to make sure you have the following: slightly bent knees, a relatively straight back with no hunching over, and a neck that is not pointed too far down.
If you struggle with hunching your back, remember to bend from the hips and not from the waist. Your hips are lower than your waist, so bending from the hips will keep the back straighter.
Tip #2: Every beginner should find a good golf pro.
Ask around for who the best golf pro in your area is. If you are on a budget, you might have to settle for someone, but anyone is better than no one when you are a beginner.
If they are trying to teach you one specific method, don’t go back to them again. Find someone else.
When you find someone you are comfortable with, listen to them, take notes, and make the changes they want. EVEN IF it makes you hit the ball like crap at first. Every golf swing change will do that at first. Trust them, though.
Tip #3: Learn why different shots like tops, slices, hooks, etc. happen.
To start with, every beginners needs to learn why tops and fat shots happen, because you will be experiencing lots of them.
A “top” simply means that you are hitting the golf ball at the very top, not making solid contact with the entire ball. This will cause the ball to go into the ground and then bounce & roll for anywhere from 0-100 yards.
A “fat shot” simply means that you are hitting the ground before the golf ball. Believe it or not, solid contact with irons is hitting the ball first and then taking a chunk out of the ground (a divot) after the ball is hit. This means that you will have to hit the ball with a downward blow.
When you hit the ground before the ball, the club loses speed and the ball will go shorter than you’d like.
After learning how to make solid contact. all beginners need to learn the ball flight laws. Basic rule: where the ball starts is due to the club face at impact; how the ball curves is due to swing path.
To be more precise, 85% of the starting line of the ball is determined by where the club face is when it’s the ball. The other 15% is due to the club path (out-to-in or in-to-out).
85% of the curvature of the golf ball (slice or hook) is due to the club path, while the other 15% is from the club face at impact.
For example, if you hit a push draw, that means the club face is open at impact (relative to the target line) and that the path is a little in-to-out (swinging to right field a bit). Simple fix: swing a little more to the left and strengthen your grip a little.
If you hit a pull slice that starts to the left of the target and ends up curving too far right, that means the club face is a little closed at address and the swing is a little too far out-to-in.
Now, based on if you are consistently missing in a certain direction, you will be able to detect what is going wrong with your swing.
Tip #4: All beginners should learn to save money on golf.
There are so many ways to save money on golf, and all of these changes add up after a while. As a beginner, you are in a good spot. You haven’t wasted much or any money on golf yet, so start off on the right foot.
Here are my favorite tips for beginners to save money on golf.
- Memberships: find the best one in your area. Ask lots of questions to whoever is in charge or membership at the courses. See if they have any discounts for you. Ask what the rate would be, once a member, to ride or walk. I’d suggest finding one that will let you walk for free as often as you want once you are a member.
- Golf Balls: buy in bulk, and don’t buy premium golf balls. Check Craigslist and Facebook for as many balls as you can for $0.50 or less.
- Golf gloves: buy in bulk. Buy a 3-5 back at Walmart, Costco, Amazon, eBay, anywhere you can for around $4-7 per glove.
- Find balls in woods and ponds. There are tons of golf balls out there. I didn’t buy golf balls for about a year after I went through a course one day and found over 100 golf balls.
- Buy the best clubs for you. If you are not sure if you will keep playing golf for many years to come, get the best value complete set. If you are going to be playing golf for a while, buy the clubs individually by looking at my Best on a Budget articles.
Tip #5: Don’t believe everyone when it comes to scores.
When I first started golf, I would be super impressed if someone told me that they were a single digit handicap.
Then… I would play with them. They would typically shoot high 80’s. “They must have just had a bad day,” I would think. Nope, they shot low 90’s the next day. High 80’s again the next day.
This would happen many times. I recruited people for a club golf team, and I can’t imagine how many handicaps were thrown at me that were completely wrong.
People always want to believe (and more importantly, want others to believe) that they are better than they truly are. They conveniently forget to average in their bad and terrible days.
Problem is, when you play with someone after telling them your average score or your handicap, you put a lot of pressure on yourself.
My advice to you is to not believe anything anyone tells you about their average score. Just see for yourself.
And for you personally, have trust in your game when you tell someone what you shoot ON AVERAGE (as in, including your bad days too).
There is no use in lying to them or yourself. Be proud of your hard work but don’t lie to others to make yourself feel better. Your real handicap will come out in the end on the course.
Tip #6: There is not a perfect golf swing.
For the first three years when I started golf, I always chased after the perfect golf swing.
Countless hours videoing my swing, countless hours analyzing the swings of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, and Charl Schwartzel.
I probably made over 100 “swing changes” over those years, all of which I fully committed to and rarely overlapped with other thoughts.
I went from a swing with no wrist hinge and a terrible posture to much more compact, powerful swing and setup.
I went from a very horizontal shoulder turn to an extremely steep one, because it made my face on swing look incredible.
I could exaggerate every swing change for a month, normally with countless hours at home hitting into a a mat. I would make changes quickly and easily.
So yeah, I was great at changing my swing, but not great at ball striking. I was great at practicing on the range, but not at hitting actual fairways and greens.
I was the best practicer you had ever seen. If you are a beginner, don’t try to be the best practicer. Be the best actual golfer. Be the best at shooting good scores and having a good time with friends.
Now I know that there are limitless numbers of swings that can work. Everyone is built differenly with different natural tendencies in their swings. They can all come into the ball to make great contact, though.
You can swing too uprights, too flat, come into the ball too steep or too shallow, have too little wrist hinge or too much. All that truly matters is coming into a good impact position.
Your swing should only change if it will allow you to come into a better impact position. Now I know.
So don’t focus on having the picture perfect swing. Focus on having a picture perfect impact and coming into the ball with a square clubface consistently.
Tip #7: The only way to get better at your short game: dedicated practice.
I can’t imagine how many golfers I hear complain about their short game. Weird thing is: I never see them practicing on the chipping green or putting green.
The only way to get better at your short game is to spend hours and hours practicing. Hit chips, bunker shots, and pitches for 1 hour everyday and you won’t believe how good you will get in a month.
Take every ball seriously and go through some sort of routine before each shot. Don’t mindlessly hit the same chip over and over again, because that’s not how golf works.
Hit to different targets each shot or move where you chip from each time. Basic rule: don’t hit the same shot twice in a row.
8) Play with golfers that are better than you.
No matter where you play, there will be someone that is better than you. Introduce yourself to them or try to get paired with them when you can.
Try to learn about everything they do that makes them better than you.
Watch their pre-shot routine, watch how they react to shots, what their short games. See what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Pick their minds a little. Find out who their swing coach is and what the swing coach has improved with their game. Maybe their swing coach is a good fit for you too.
Tip #8: As a beginner, putt everything out if you want to be a better putter.
If a newer golfer told me he typically shoots 90, I go ahead and add around 5 stokes for short putts that he probably considers “gimmies” that he would have missed.
All things considered, it can be a big problem for golfers.
They give themselves so many short putts, that they never learn how to make them consistently. When they actually have to putt them out for whatever reason, they miss a large portion of them.
So, unless it’s literally a foot or less, I would putt everything out. It will lead to a better putting stroke and a truer score at the end of the day.
Tip #9: Don’t listen to unsolicited advice on the range.
Don’t ask why, just know that there will be tons of people trying to give you “the greatest golf tip ever” on the range.
Don’t listen. Stick with what your pro is telling you.
The more someone gives advice like this, the less likely that they should be giving advice in the first place.
Odds are, whatever they tell you will mess with your head or your swing. And more often than not, it will take the focus away from what you should truly be working on.
If you want to truly get better at golf as quickly as possible, these two extra tips are for you!
Tip #10: Play competitive rounds as soon and as often as possible.
The absolute best way to get better at golf is to play rounds that actually mean something. Play in your weekly Sunday competitive rounds with the club members.
If you are not comfortable with your game to play competitive rounds yet, play with friends more often, or make bets with your friends. Anything that induces nerves will be great for your game.
As soon as you think you are ready to play competitive rounds, DO IT!
When it means something to you, every shot is a little harder. You’ll learn a lot about what you need to work on, and very quickly.
Tip #11: Use the range to play practice rounds.
When you are short on time and can only make it out to the driving range, don’t just pound balls at the same flat all day.
Play a course in your head. If the first hole is a par 4, pick out a fairway between flags and try to hit it right down the middle.
After that, pick a flag that would be similar to how far you will be from the flag after the drive. Then maybe pitch a shot to a short flag if you hit a bag shot. After that, go to the next hole in your head and start it again.
I know this is easier said than done, but force yourself to practice diligently.
Don’t hit the the same shot two times in a row. Don’t even hit the same club two times in a row, because you will rarely do this on the course. Go back to your bag after each shot and start again with a new club.
Again, 99% of you will not actually do this, but be that 1%!
If you want to get better quicker, you need to practice smarter than the others.