Many times when we get invited to play golf we often turn down the offer to play because we think we aren’t “good enough” to play in front of others. Here’s an important reality check: Over one-third of all U.S. women golfers score over 120 (and the guys are not that much better). They still enjoy the game, and so will you.
“It’s really not the golf that matters, truth be told. It’s the secret club. It’s the secret language. It’s being in the game, being where decisions are made. And that means being on the golf course.” —Leslie Andrews, “Nice Girls Who Play Golf Do Get The Corner Office,” Forbes, 2012
Whether you’ve played for 10 years or 10 weeks golf being unsure of your ability to play happens to all of us, but practice makes perfect and you should welcome every opportunity to play in corporate outings and casual games with friends.
Following these six tips will help you make the most of any golf outing and avoid being nervous!
1. Play in Your Comfort Zone
It’s okay to feel like a beginner and announce it up front. Actually, it’s even better to describe yourself as an educated beginner. If you have trouble keeping up with your golf partners, be prepared to pick up your ball. Simply put it in your pocket and announce that you’ll put it back in play on the next hole. This is perfectly acceptable in casual golf games. And if you’re not finishing the hole, make yourself valuable by tending the flagstick when you get to the green. In some cases your partners may even give you some helpful pointers if you’re having trouble getting a swing down
2. Avoid Tournaments Where You Must Play & Count Every Stroke
During the early stages of learning the game, it just doesn’t make sense to be a stickler about the rules – like counting every whiff and playing every bungled shot. So steer clear of these easily-avoided situations. Instead, look for tournaments with a scramble or best-ball format. Four-player team scrambles are very popular at corporate and charity golf events.
Here’s how a scramble works: Each foursome usually has players of varying abilities. Each player in the foursome tees off, and then everyone hits again from the spot where the best of the team’s tee shots landed (that’s often the shot of one of the strongest players in your team). This is repeated down the fairway until all four balls are on the green, and then until one gets in the hole. (You only count your team’s best shots from the tee into the cup.) If you’re a good putter, you can end up as the star of your team, even if you miss every tee shot and approach.
3. Learn Flawless Green Etiquette
Every beginner golfer can be an expert on the green. Learn how to mark your ball, who putts first, when to pull the flag, where to walk, and where to stand while others are putting. If there is one single lesson that I recommend new golfers take before a corporate outing, my choice would be golf etiquette – especially on the green. Find a teacher or good friend and ask her or him to spend 30 minutes with you on etiquette – that’s all it should take for the basics.
4. Let Faster Golfers Play Through
If you’re moving slower than the group behind you, let those faster players “play through” your group. Letting players through is simple when a faster group catches up to you on the next tee, but here’s how to do it in the fairway: After your group has teed off and reached their balls, move off to the sides of the fairway. Motion with a wave for the players behind you to hit their next shots. They will probably hit beyond where you are standing (that’s why they’ve been faster!), but keep your eye on their shots just in case they come close. (Don’t be surprised if the hot-shot golfers behind you don’t perform as well while playing through – everyone is watching and it makes them more nervous.)
After they’ve hit their next shots and are out of range, resume play. Most women play faster than male golfers. Nevertheless, women get a bad rap for slow play because we just don’t hit the ball as far. But since we hit it straighter, we spend less time looking for balls, and it more than evens up. The most important pace-of-play suggestions for women golfers are to take only one practice swing; walk very quickly between shots; and always think of your next shot as you’re moving along so that you’re ready to hit when you get to your ball.
5. Do Some Research on the Course You’re Playing
The more you know about the course yore playing before you get there, the more confident you’ll be. Many golf facilities have websites, so look at those. Study the course’s online scorecard and learn the yardages from the forward tees.
Women generally play from forward tees that range anywhere from 4,800 yards to 5,900 yards for 18 holes. If the total yardage for 18 holes from the forward tees is longer than 5,400 yards, the course is probably more difficult than average courses. Most importantly, look at the “slope” and “course ratings” from the forward tees. Slope is most important. If the slope is higher than 124, the course will be more challenging than most. The challenge may be water or bunkers on the course, or the layout could be hilly or very wooded.
6. Be Prepared Beforehand
Call the pro shop and ask these questions: Where will I park my car? Is there a place to drop my golf bag (called “bag drop”) and then park my car? Is there a women’s locker room (perhaps for changing from work to golf clothes)? Are cell phones permitted on the course? Are there restrooms on the course? Is there a dress code (some courses do not permit halter tops or short shorts)? Are there women’s rental clubs? I mention rental clubs because, even if you have a set of clubs, sometimes golf courses have the latest club models available as inexpensive rentals. This could be a great time to try out new equipment.