12 Things Rookies Never Tell Golfers


The first thing golfers don’t want to hear is that you are a rookie. They don’t want to know that you haven’t been playing long enough to know how to hit a shot. They don’t want to know how much money you make or how much debt you have. They also don’t want to know how bad your swing is.

The reason they don’t want to hear this stuff is that if they do, they’ll think: “I’ve been playing for years and I’m no good at golf and I can’t hit the ball very well.” And then they’ll tell you. That’s the first thing rookies should share with golfers: I’m no good at golf and I can’t hit the ball very well. That way, when you play with them, they won’t feel stupid and insecure around you.

When you are a rookie, you really don’t have anything to talk about.

Maybe you’re thinking: “I’m going to be a professional golfer someday.”

“Really? When did you decide that? What were you doing for the last ten years?”

A more typical question is: “What clubs do you recommend I use?” But what are these clubs, and how do they work? What if I want something different from what you recommend? And what if I don’t want any clubs at all?

Then there’s the question of how to play golf. What club to hit on this hole, what club to hit on that hole, what club to hit on this hole but not that hole, when my swing is too long or too short for this club or that one. And then there’s the question of whether I should hit up or down. That almost never comes up.

The things beginners never talk about include: why they started playing; why they continue playing; their expectations; their frustrations; anything at all.

Like many of us, I have been a golfer for most of my life. I play golf for exercise and for the fun of it, but also as a way to improve my game. I believe that golf is a great hobby, and am grateful for the opportunities it has given me in my life.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have received some nice prizes from tournaments and other events, but more importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and make some great connections with both fellow players and tournament staff on the course.

If you are reading this blog, then you know that sometimes golf can be frustrating. You might get into a bad round or find yourself playing poorly while someone else “plays like they’re born.” But there are also some things you may not know about golfers. One of them is how golfers think.

No one knows exactly what a golfer’s thought process looks like when he’s on the course. No one has ever asked one of us to explain what we’re thinking as we swing our clubs at a ball sitting in front of us. But we’re not aliens from another planet either! We’re just people who have devoted thousands of hours to learning how to hit a ball with a club…and how to

1. “This is the first time I’ve ever played golf.”

Me too. Trust me, when you first pick up a club, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. It’s like learning to swim in a pool with water that doesn’t move; it’s slow and frustrating and terrifying. And then one day you look down and think, “Wow, I can do this,” and your confidence goes way up.

The same thing happens on the course. There are so many things that look hard to beginners but aren’t really hard at all once you understand them. The game is simple, it’s just a lot of minute details that people don’t know about until they’ve done them for years. If everyone knew the fundamental rules, no one would need to be an expert player; everyone would be able to swing like an expert player.

When I first started playing, I quickly learned that the people who are good at golf are not just better players, but also better at explaining what they’re doing. Most of the things that good players know about golf involve their bodies—the physics of the swing, the physiology of muscle tension and relaxation and so on. But even after you’ve studied these things for years, it can be hard to explain how you make a perfect swing.

In this case at least, what’s typically in short supply is knowledge of the game’s fundamentals. The hard part is making a good swing; it’s easy to explain how to do that, which is why we have guides like Golf Digest or Golf Magazine or the rules of golf itself. The basics aren’t hard to learn; it’s learning all the fundamentals that takes time and patience.

This is a hard article to summarize, because it’s really about a number of things. 1) the benefits of learning about the game through reading books, which are not necessarily what we think they are. 2) the value of being able to talk with other players. 3) how golf can teach many things I don’t think I could ever learn from books, such as how to be self-critical, how to handle oneself in difficult situations, how to manage emotions and handle pressure, and so on.

I am not saying all these things are true for every golfer; or that other people won’t have different experiences from mine; or that you might never pick up something useful from reading a book. But after years of playing and thinking about the game I feel like there is a lot more in the game than I have learned from books, and I’m interested in learning more.

Golfers are taught to focus on the golf ball, but you can’t hit a golf ball if you don’t know what’s in front of it.

If you’ve never played before, you might think that the way to learn how to play is to practice and practice and practice. But this is a mistake. You can only learn by playing.


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