Beginner’s Luck – No. 8
Preparing for Your Round – Ready, set, (wait, do I have everything?), go!

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

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.

It’s really no fun to be sprinting to the first tee or to find yourself without a key piece of golf equipment, accessory, or snack. Like golf, preparation is a skill that can be learned. Even as a beginner, when you have a good routine, it becomes even more relaxing and enjoyable to play golf. Our goal is to have fun, and small steps taken in advance can pay multiples down the road.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”             -Alexander Graham Bell

And here is what we do to get ready……

Kristina (@k_love_90 on TikTok): For me, a little planning ahead makes it all the more likely that I’ll have a good time out on the course. My day-before-prep includes a quick assessment of my golf bag contents. Are my clubs clean and organized in the bag? Do I have enough golf balls and are they marked so I can identify them? Do I have clothes and golf shoes that are fit for the forecast and conditions (rain, lots of uphill walking, etc.)? Am I fully stocked with supplies like towels, gloves, tees, ball mark repair tool, pencils, snacks, and water? I wear a GPS smartwatch, so I make sure it’s charged and I load the course into my app if I haven’t played the course before.

All of this being in place, sometimes things don’t go per plan. A while ago, I was driving to the golf course and realized the tee time I was tracking for was different than our actual tee time. I called my playing buddy and let her know I would be “coming in hot” but not to worry, I would have enough time to check in and meet the group on the first tee. Similarly, I’ve had playing partners call me so I could check them in at the pro shop and save a few minutes since they were running late. These things do happen but now I am sure to take a few minutes the day ahead to confirm my tee time. I prefer to get to the course early to relax, warm up, and find my golf state of mind. Finally, right before we tee off I put my cell phone on silent and tuck it away. I realize this is not always an option or a relaxing tactic for everyone, so you do you!

Macarena: Apart from all the practice on and off the driving range, one of the things I have found most useful to help me prepare for a round of golf is TIME MANAGEMENT. This goes from making sure I have the right directions to get to a new course – allowing for roadwork and traffic, especially now that people are back at work – therefore getting to the golf course with plenty of time to get all my equipment and myself to the tee on time (actually aim for 10- 15 minutes before tee time). When you visit a new course it is also good to allow some time at the pro shop to chat to the staff – find out local rules, how greens are playing, any local hazards to look out for, and of course to check out all the golf goodies for sale! Sometimes you will find course booklets detailing every hole, which is useful; and if you are joining a new group of players, it’s always good to not be the one arriving late. Yes, tee times are sacred, especially as the weather warms, so you do not want to be the one whose name is being announced over the PA system.

Obviously if you are unable to play, you MUST phone ahead of time to cancel your tee time – it is your responsibility. I like to arrive up to one hour ahead of time – if there is a driving range, I like to warm up with a small bucket of balls. Then I head to practice some chipping and putting – hmm….somehow all seems to go well in practice…then magically not so well out on the course…but at least I feel I’ve done the right thing by warming up.

An example of a “prep” station.

Time management continues as you play – you do not want to slow down the pace of play – so, make sure you are watching everyone’s ball as it is easier to find balls if everyone can keep an eye out. Then, make sure you are planning which club to use as you approach your ball, always aware of others and not standing in front of players – unless you are in the trees! (then you can take your scenic walk, but always aware of others hitting. If you happen to have an “off” hole during a casual round be prepared to pick up once you reach 10 strokes – it is only fair to your fellow players – and just focus on the next hole! I have learned that golf is very much a mind game, so if you happen to be in the double digits, it does you no good to keep “hacking away.” Just take a deep breath and keep walking on to the next tee!

“Golf is a game that mirrors life. Golf is both a mystical journey of joy and sorrow and a physical journey of cause and effect.”  – Matthew E. Adams, Fairways of Life: Golf Wisdom from the Legends

Johanna: When I know I have a tee time on the calendar, I get so excited! I even text my golf girls, “One more sleep!“ the night before. Besides counting the days, there are a few more things that I do to prepare. First, I check the weather. This helps me to know whether I need to layer, bring a jacket (rain or otherwise), or pack hand warmers. I always have a vest and my golf umbrella in my bag. I also check to see how far away the course is from my house. That information, plus knowing I want to get there about 45 minutes early, lets me know what time I need to leave the house. And I wouldn’t leave the house without snacks! I always pack a large water, fresh fruit, gluten free pretzels, and “Back 9 Bars.” They are home-made protein bars that I make. If you’ve ever golfed with me you know that I always pack enough for my foursome in case they need a snack, too. One last thing I think is important when preparing for a round of golf.…music! A great song on the drive to the course makes the day even better! Then, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy the day!

Stephanie (@coldinseattle on TikTok): As part of my pre-round checklist I make sure my GPS for my round is charged up the night before. I’m too much of a beginner to try and eyeball how far out I am. I need this to make sure I’m pulling out the correct club. I wonder if this will ever just become second nature? Either way, I’ll keep charging my GPS as part of the routine because it’s better to have and not need it than need it and not have it. If all else fails, I ask my playing partners for distance or use the markers on the golf course for estimated distances.

As I am playing in two different leagues. I always look that morning to see who I’m matched up with. Mostly I do this so I can be polite and remember names. Our league uses sign-up software that helps me keep track of who is in my group. Other than that, I make sure I have balls, tees, etc. In the morning, I make my coffee to go, and I’m off!

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.