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Tips to Help You Learn to Play Golf

Updated on February 10, 2018

One of the most difficult games in the world to play is golf. Most weekend duffers are happy to break 100. Sometimes even professionals like Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy can have trouble breaking a score of 80. A person can seem like they have the game figured out one day and then shoot his worst score in months or even years the next day. Golf takes both skill and luck. Those who are first starting out can become quite frustrated very easily. Here are a five easy tips that will not have you shooting under par in two weeks. They will, however, probably improve your success and enjoyment of the game. Those who want more tips may want to check out the golf tips books listed to the right.

Rule Number 1: Look at the Ball

This recommendation may seem a bit obvious, but it is quickly forgotten by many newbies and even by some who have been playing the game for years. The closest analogous games to golf are probably baseball and tennis. In these games a person is swinging and hitting a ball. Unlike golf, the ball is moving, but the concept is very similar.

Imagine a person trying to play tennis blindfolded, or even while looking at the crowd when trying to hit the ball. It would not work out well for this person. In order to hit the ball, you need to look at the ball. Many amateur golfers forget this important piece of information and begin looking for where their ball is landing before they actually hit it. In this instance, they usually do not have to look far, as the ball will likely be dribbled a few yards in front of the tee, if contact is made at all. One easy tip to keep your head down on the ball is to force yourself to wait an entire second after contact to look up. This will ensure that your are more likely to make good contact.

The 18th hole at Prestwick in the UK, the site of the first British Open in 1860.
The 18th hole at Prestwick in the UK, the site of the first British Open in 1860. | Source

Rule Number 2: Hit Down to Get the Ball up

Many people break this rule and succeed in incessantly hitting worm burners that get about six inches off the ground. It seems counter-intuitive, but the best way to get the ball in the air is by compressing it into the ground. To do this aim at the back of the ball while bringing the downswing through.

Most professional golfers will break some ground with each swing from the fairway or the rough. This is called a divot. Those who take the dirt from behind the ball are said to hit it fat. The ball does not travel far in this instance because it wasn't hit at all. The golfer actually hit the dirt, and the dirt moved the ball.

Try taking a divot in front of the ball when swinging. This requires hitting the back of the ball and then taking dirt from in front. Because the ball is what was actually hit, rather than the dirt, the ball flight will get more elevation and improved distance.

Rule Number 3: Swing Hard to Go a Short Distance

This is another common mistake that would-be golfers make in the early days. If they can hit a pitching wedge 100 yards, they think that they have to swing half as hard to go 50 yards with the same club. A fat shot that goes about 20 yards is the likely outcome in this instance.

Instead of trying to slow the swing, it is better to just cut down on the backswing. Instead of bringing your hands to shoulder level, try bringing them to your belly, or your hips. Adjust the length of the backswing in relation to the distance. Then swing as hard as you regularly would on a full shot. Fat shots will become less common, especially if you keep the first two rules in mind.

Improve Your Golf Swing

Rule Number 4: Think of Clocks When Putting

Many people like to stab at the ball when putting on the greens. They pick up this habit when playing putt-putt. Needless to say, putting on a real green is nothing like playing miniature golf. The ball will usually not go as quickly on grass as it does on concrete covered by carpet.

The proper putting stroke should take the form of a clock's pendulum: back and forth. Relax the hands, take the putter back, and then swing naturally through using the weight of the putter head. Like the shots mentioned in rule number 3, the length of the backswing should control the distance covered by the putt.

Rule Number 5: Think of Newton When Putting

Isaac Newton is not just important for science class. The most important part of the game of golf is putting. If a person was to play the game the way that it is intended and take the exact number of shots required by par, they would take as many shots on the green as they would driving and hitting approach shots. Putting is also the most difficult part of the game.

Gravity is important to remember when trying to putt. Putts that travel downhill will go faster than those that go uphill. Adjust the strength of the stroke accordingly. Really short grass on the greens will cause less friction and the ball will travel further. Wet greens will be slower than dry greens. Putts that are on the side of a mound will also travel downhill, so it may be necessary to aim right or left. Try to get the ball within a three foot circle for the best results on longer putts.


Playing golf can be very frustrating. However, a player can improve his or her game with work. Remembering these easy tips will not make an expert overnight, but they can make the game more enjoyable for most people.


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