We are four women who are new to the game of golf. We connected through the game, and have become friends because of it. We love the game, and want to share our experiences in finding our way, and encourage and empower other beginners to take it on and seize every opportunity for joy in it.
Ask any beginning golfer what is the most intimidating part of getting into this game, and the number one response you’ll likely get is, “Going to a golf course by myself for the first time and being paired with strangers.”
First tee jitters at the U.S. Open pale in comparison to the jitters one feels when playing golf in front of other people for the first time, even if you’re playing with a friend and the two of you are paired with another twosome.
Some people might handle this nerve-racking experience better than others, but it is nevertheless one of the largest steps a beginner takes in the journey to becoming a golfer.
Here are our experiences……
Last May my husband decided we should head to Scottsdale, Arizona for our wedding anniversary. Having spent our first winter in the Pacific Northwest, we felt we needed some sun, and we stayed at a resort with a par 3, 9-hole course attached.
It was strange adapting to the heat and sand, but after a couple of days we decided playing a real 18-hole course might be more fun. So we headed to the beautiful Camelback Golf Course in Scottsdale.
Wow! For a beginner who had only ever pushed a cart around a muni course, arriving at a private club with valet service and electric carts (which have been stocked with ice and towels and everything you need to make you comfortable) was quite a treat….but also intimidating.
Surely this level of service means you have to know what you are doing, and have a single-digit handicap! I was beginning to get nervous. My husband reassured me, that we would be fine, as we were one of the first to tee off, and would be ahead of the crowds.
BUT….as we approached the practice area (with perfectly stacked range balls in pyramids!), a gentleman in a pink golf shirt introduced himself to us, and said he would be joining us for a round, as he was a member, and had been let off grandkid duty for a few hours. He was delighted to have the course ahead free of others, whilst I was totally freaking out inside – what if I messed up at the first tee and my ball ended up in the trees? Or in the large water hazard?
So, watching the men tee off – straight and far – I apologized ahead of time, for the mistakes this stranger was about to witness, and took a deep breath as I approached my tee. Then I just focused on running through the set up I had been taught, took a practice swing and then drove my first ball towards the only trees in sight! Luckily the shot was playable and the stranger in the pink shirt congratulated me for the length of my drive, and throughout the next few hours I learnt to relax and focus on my own game. We played as a threesome, helping to find balls when the odd one or two went astray, and he was generous with his praise for a beginner, and also very kind in pointing out hazards along the way.
When the beverage cart approached us near the 12th hole, I was amazed you could buy cocktails on the golf course!
Well, I don’t know if it was the chilled vodka orange which made me relax, or the kindness of a stranger in a pink golf shirt (did I mention I was so nervous I immediately forgot his name after saying hello at the practice range?), but it reminds me of the quote by playwright Tennessee Williams from his Streetcar Named Desire, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
So don’t be afraid to get out there and play with a stranger.
Kristina (@k_love_90 on TikTok):
I’ve played dozens of rounds with strangers. There were times when I was grouped with strangers because there was a random open time slot and I’ve had pairings with league players I hadn’t met yet. While I’ve enjoyed a few of these pairings more than others, I’ve learned from each of them. At the first tee, I make time for quick hellos and write down players names for reference. We set on which tees we will use (it doesn’t have to be the same tees for everyone), identify which ball everyone is playing and decide if we’ll play ready golf. I have been paired with golfers who hit it miles ahead of me and if we agree to play ready golf, I may hit my tee or fairway shot before them even if I’m not the farthest away to speed up the pace of play. In another instance, I played with two ladies who didn’t speak much English, but they played some great golf and showed me how to pick up my wedge from the green by gently stepping on the clubhead to tip the shaft toward my hand.
I don’t remember exactly the first time I golfed with strangers, but I am sure I was nervous. That feeling of people watching you tee off on the first hole can be intimidating. Fortunately, I had a golf bestie with me as comfort. I have been nothing but encouraged by them all, even on my worst days. Furthermore, once I realized that I am only playing against myself and trying to improve my own game, that took a lot of the pressure off. Like my husband advised before I started playing in the league: as long as you keep up pace of play, no one will care what you shoot. 😊
Stephanie (@coldinseattle on TikTok):
As a beginner, my worst nightmare would be playing outside my little group. Yes, at first the ladies were “strangers,” but like me, I found out they were all out there just to have a good time and spread the love of golf to the Newbies. So every week I would sign up and be placed with three ladies I had not met. We would walk to the first tee and like clockwork I would hit the same tree with my drive. Okay, I love this game called “golf,” but wow, how it messes with your mind. It took me four weeks not to hit that same tree. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a total beginner but it was that first tee that messes with me every time. At about six months in, my son and I started going out on the weekend to play together. As a twosome, we would be paired with men. My boy would tell me, “You hit it straight, not far but straight, so don’t worry, Mom.” Of course, the men hit from the back tees. They all tee off then move to the forward tees and watch me. All I feel is all eyes on me. But remembering what my son told me, I take a swing, hit it to the center, I can see my ball, and off we go to search for their balls in the forest. They do hit it far, but these are weekend warriors and like me just out to have fun. I read somewhere that if you’re not breaking 100 you should be playing the forward tees (and yes, they are called “forward tees,” not ladies tees). So the moral of the story is: Just go out and play your round. At the end of the day, no one cares what you shot. Everyone is just keeping their own score. Most important thing is to keep pace of play!
Who We Are
Johanna MacMichael: Prior to March 2021, I’d only played golf a few times with my husband in “scramble” games. During COVID, a neighbor friend recommended a women’s golf league and I started playing on a regular basis. I love this game! My handicap is 38.6.
Macarena Dearie: I was born in the UK, with the past many years living in various countries around the globe. I made a promise to my husband over 30 years ago that I would learn to play his beloved golf game if he learned to ski. And so here I am. My handicap is 40.0.
Stephanie Standifer: At 55 years old I started taking golf lessons during the COVID pandemic. My instructors encouraged me to play more regularly, so I joined my first 9-hole women’s league in the spring of 2021. My handicap is 26.4.
Kristina Laidler: I retired during the pandemic, so I’m returning to golf after years commuting and sitting behind a computer keyboard. I always wanted to play more, and better, golf but did not have the time until now. My handicap is 26.3.