Time “fore” Taking up Golf!

By Leah Lancione

To some, golf is nothing more than an expensive, time-consuming activity that prompts some players to wear downright silly attire. To others, golf is a dearly-loved hobby that requires all the skills and dexterity of other major sports—balance, hand-eye coordination, form, precision and plenty of mental fortitude no matter what you’re wearing. If you have tinkered with the idea of joining the latter group, start by visiting sites like www.beginnersgolftips.com and www.learnaboutgolf.com or take a lesson from a club pro. There are plenty of venues to learn this game in the Bay area, but first things first – namely golf clubs. According to learnaboutgolf.com many beginners make the same initial mistake: going out to purchase new clubs. Since new clubs are expensive and vary depending on your style, size and ability, you should hold off on this decision, unless you can find a cheap set at a local yard sale. Other options are to either borrow a set from a friend or rent from the clubhouse until you’ve done your research or have been advised by a professional on what clubs will fit your game and your budget.

Keep in mind, this is a sport people end up playing into their 60s, 70s and 80s. So don’t get discouraged early on about finding the right set of clubs or looking awkward. The more you play, the more you’ll figure out which set best suits you and your game. And did we mention the health benefits? Aside from the occasional back problems the golf swing can cause or exacerbate, the game is great exercise. You’re focused on the next shot, not on the boredom of walking. And you’re going to know when it’s time to use golf carts save you much of the walking, because tired legs hurt a good golf swing. There’s no disgrace in carting it.

Though most complete sets contain about 14 clubs, with woods, hybrids, irons, wedges and a putter, initially you may be able to get away with a half set, six or seven essential clubs. to help you get acclimated. This also means less to lug around the course. Another good tip for beginners: It’s better to equip your bag with two or three hybrid clubs rather than going with the more difficult-to-hit 1, 2 or 3 irons.

According to www.choosegolfclubs.net the most important thing to do when browsing through the different brands is to base your decision on your ability level and to try several models before making a purchase. Salespeople at pro shops will be more than happy to watch you practice your swing motion or test out the different grips, weights, lengths, etc. Just remember: Try before you buy.

Once you have clubs, you should start by taking a few lessons or at least practicing for a few weeks at driving range.

When it’s time to head out to a course in the Annapolis area, there are public courses like the Eisenhower Golf Course in Crownsville and Bay Hills Golf Club in Arnold. At Eisenhower – www.eisenhower.com – there is a practice facility with nine hitting stations on the driving range, as well as a practice green for chipping and putting. If you want to take an individual lesson or a group lesson or clinic, there is a teaching staff for that. And note that Monday through Wednesday, Eisenhower offers a $30 green fee for seniors that includes the cart. Bay Hills – www.bayhillsgolf.com — has a Senior Club with special events and tournaments, in addition to different tee time specials.

But these are regulation, 18-hole layouts you might want to savor for another day. Shorter, par 3 courses should probably be your destination in the beginning. The Severna Park Golf Center and Night Hawk Golf Center in Crofton each have a par 3 course, a driving range and a pro shop.

Night Hawk Golf Center in Crofton is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and offers individual, small group and clinic instructions. The facility contains a putting and chipping green, grass tees, covered tees, indoor net and a bunker. Open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Severna Park Golf Center also offers lessons and clinics for newbie golfers. Both venues also have a mini-golf course if you want to practice your putting swing casually with family and friends.

Also, try practicing your swing in front of a mirror or video tape it to determine whether you’re balancing properly and swinging the club with the correct range of motion. Once you think you’ve got that down and have your private or group lesson scheduled, sit down with a good book on the rules of golf—particularly one sanctioned by the PGA—so you’re well informed of all the common rules.

After you’ve got a few rounds under your belt, the self-tutoring begins. One of the best ways is to subscribe to Golf Magazine. Skip the monthly articles about golf resort vacations and features about the game’s greatest players and go straight to the instruction tips featured in the front and back of the book. At golf.com and other websites specified in these instructional articles, you can see helpful audio lessons and videos of swing corrections you can make. Another good thing: Golf Magazine, like many niche pubs, is making subscription offers at great prices in an attempt to build readership.

Finally, get out there and practice. Just don’t forget the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer’s warning, “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening—and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”

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