Beginner’s Luck – No. 6
Lessons and Learning – you are not alone on the journey

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.

Left to right: Macarena, Kristina, Stephanie and Johanna.

There are a hundred – no, a gazillion – moving parts to the golf swing; and a hundred – no, a gazillion – ways to learn it. So, the best way to learn it is to simplify it, find a way that’s right for you. And the best way to do this is to find a golf instructor to teach the basics and guide your journey. Whether taking individual lessons or group lessons, a golf instructor will ease your path, not only for your own swing but also for your introduction into the game itself.

“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone….. Where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”   – Joseph Campbell

Kristina (@k_love_90 on TikTok): I don’t take lessons often but when I am looking to make a breakthrough or troubleshoot a glitch, I go to a PGA pro. I’ve been lucky to work with a few excellent teachers who’ve had a lasting positive impact on my game. They are able to see things differently and know how to “fix” swing troubles. My husband routinely “coaches” and encourages me, but PGA instructors have specific drills, training aids and expertise to guide an aspiring golfer through all manner of techniques, body movements and positions. Teaching pros are advisors, therapists, advocates. There are teaching pros for all skill levels, whether you are looking for data-driven analytics like TrackMan or the social aspect of group lessons.

In this photo, local PGA instructor Rick Fehr uses TrackMan data with a client to work on driver distance and accuracy.

There are many wonderful coaches in the area. If you are looking to connect with a golf professional who is a woman, Pam Politi is an instructor at Harbour Pointe Golf Club in Mukilteo, Wash. Pam has been working with juniors and players of all abilities. You can reach Pam at [email protected].

In addition to private lessons, you may benefit from group lessons. Along these lines, Operation 36 which is a program designed to progressively develop skills and confidence around the golf course. There are loads of certified pros and programs available on the Operation 36 site and highlighted pros are searchable on the site.

I encourage you to try lessons and work with a PGA or LPGA instructor. You can find more info at the PGA directory where you can search for an instructor by zip code, player type, and other filters to find the perfect coach for you.

Stephanie (@coldinseattle on TikTok): When I decided to golf during the COVID pandemic, I started with indoor lessons. It was winter at the time, and playing outside was not an option. As my lessons progressed, let’s say about the fifth lesson or so, I needed to know what each club did. I was still unsure. I had not gotten a handle on how far I was hitting each club. I had gone over the basics of the swing, keeping my arms in the correct position, where the weight should be at my feet, following through with my swing, the list goes on and on. I had no idea it was so complex. I feel that these lessons started to give me purpose. After every lesson I would go and practice at the driving range, swinging away and hoping just not to miss the ball! After about three months, the lessons and time spent with my coach, pulling out a club and determining how far I was hitting each one, it all fell into place. Now, when I would join the 9-hole league, I would know what club to use on each shot. If I was 100 yards out that was my pitching wedge, 60 yards out my 60-degree wedge, etc.

To be honest, as a beginner there was a long time when it seemed like every club was going the same distance. I still have this problem with a couple of my clubs. I am one year into golf and even the time of year and weather affects my distance. I think this club/distance lesson was what made me feel like I knew what I was doing (okay, just a little). I actually wrote it all down and printed it out, laminated the little card with club and distance, and kept it with me the first six months of playing. As I think back, I think, “Wow, how crazy is that!” Now I know what club to pull out in a given circumstance. But even that has changed. Each club goes a little further now, for the most part. On rainy days, the ball goes shorter; if playing in the desert, wow, I can hit a long drive! (Okay, a long roll of the drive!)

Johanna: Learning this game will take time. Once I realized how much I needed to learn, lessons were a must. I bought a five-pack of lessons and off I went! The golf pro who gave me the lessons, Matt, was very relaxed and I immediately felt at ease. He taught me some cool tricks, too! One of the things you learn in golf is that you need to “shift your weight” during your swing. I was having difficulty with this concept as was evidenced by the result of where my ball went. :). Matt taught me a great lesson that I will never forget. He put a water bottle right next to my right foot (I am right-handed). I then had to make my swing without knocking that water bottle over. I went from just swiveling my back foot to shifting my weight forward. It was so helpful! I have so much more to learn. I will probably be learning the game of golf for the rest of my life. I think some more lessons are in my future.

Macarena: When I decided to fulfill my promise to my husband of learning to play golf, we headed to the driving range, he bought me one white glove (my immediate first question to him: “Why only one?”). Then the golf pro suggested to me that I try some ladies clubs, and we headed off to the range. Having filled our bucket with hundreds of balls we installed ourselves in adjacent booths. He then proceeded to explain all the different types of clubs in his bag, and how you should set up for your first swing. I must say the set-up did not feel at all natural, but he assured me I would soon get “the swing of it” (pardon the pun).

So, I followed his instructions, took a swing, and somehow managed to miss the ball completely. “No worries” is an Australian expression we have acquired after living there 10 years. So I had another go, and the same thing – the ball was still there. I looked over at my husband and he of course was driving the ball far and so high! When I asked what I was doing wrong, all he could say was he had never had a lesson in his life (being a Scot, he started golf as a young lad) and therefore told me to just swing the club and eventually I would get it. Probably not the best first lesson, but it did convince me to seek professional help from the golf pro at the front desk, and was encouraged to join an eight-week ladies golf program set to start the following week.

It was the best decision. Our female golf pro took us through the basics of golf, was able to identify what each of us needed to work on, and why the ball was going left or right instead of straight. During the series of lessons, we progressed and gained confidence. And of course, found new friends – our pro encouraged us to join a golf league, many of us continued to play together and whenever we were having an off day, we would remind each other of the lessons we had learned at the range.

The old adage “safety in numbers” helped us all when we arrived at the local golf club for our first real game of golf. As we teed off for the first time, we helped spot each other’s balls as they proceeded to head in a variety of directions, and the trials of navigating our first-ever round of golf was made easier and much less daunting with the support of my fellow golf students.

Who We Are

Johanna MacMichael

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

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

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

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.