Do a little research before investing too much into that ‘game of a lifetime’
By Dana Dunn
Never played golf and thinking about teeing it up for the first time this summer? Some 2.2 million Americans over the age of 6 played golf for the first time in 2015, according to the National Golf Foundation.
Before rushing out and buying that first set of clubs for yourself, a spouse or child, take some time to do a bit of research online or by visiting your local golf professional.
“I don’t recommend a full set if they are just starting out playing the game,” said Mike Deters, 28, the Professional Golf Association professional at Snow Hill Country Club in New Vienna. “Get a few clubs to begin with to make sure this is a game they enjoy playing.”
A typical starter bag might include a driver, one 5 wood, a pitching wedge, 7 iron, 9 iron and putter.
“I’d stay away from long irons and a 3 wood to begin with because the face of the club has less loft and it is harder to get the ball in the air,” Deters said.
Jay Lumpkin, a Wilmington native and teaching professional since 1976, says ebay, Amazon or garage sales are often good places to find a beginner set of clubs and bag.
After getting the equipment, at least a lesson or two from a certified professional is advised. Starting young with the right instruction is the best way to commit good habits to muscle memory, but some late bloomers, particularly those with at least average eye-hand coordination, achieve a level of success despite swings that don’t draw rave reviews from professional teachers.
Golf is one of the most civil sports around and can instill the importance of honesty and fairness to those who take it up as youngsters at programs offered at most every course. Players usually keep their own score and are expected to self-report any violations that call for extra strokes.
Basic golf etiquette also reflects values you can use away from the course.
“Remaining quiet and still while others are hitting, repairing ball marks and replacing divots are all expectations of golfers who love and respect the game,” Lumpkin said.
Another good habit for any golfer or group is to not let a group get more than a hole ahead of you and to let the group behind you play through if they are always on your heels.
Most golf courses also have dress codes that require players to wear collared shirts and no jeans — short or long.
Lumpkin and Deters, though admittedly biased, agree that golf is the game of a lifetime.
“It is a sport you can play or take up at any age. It can be a good business tool, and you are outside in a beautifully landscaped area getting exercise,” Lumpkin said.