The numbers are in. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an interest in golf not seen in recent years. According to the National Golf Foundation golf participation among juniors, beginners, and returning golfers increased 20-25% in the 2nd quarter this year. Among juniors, 37% were girls—up from 15% in the past 15 years.
How can we encourage them to make golf a lifelong passion and not just a passing fancy? Small gestures on the course can help to make their experience welcoming and fun so they’ll want to continue playing golf. We can all remember how daunting it was to start playing golf but just in case, we have a few reminders for you and some quick tips to help out our new playing partners grow their love for the game.
Be patient – Remember how difficult it was when you started to play? Keep this in mind…throughout the round. Thinking back on your experience will help you help them. Be empathetic to how hard the game is at first and be patient with the long learning process.
Be supportive – Words of encouragement can make the world of a difference when you are starting to golf. Golf can be so frustrating that some kind and supportive words can make you want to keep playing the game. “Don’t worry about it, you got the next shot”, “Oh yeah, I’ve been there”. “Wow, that’s a nice one”. If they’re open to it, by all means, go ahead and teach them a bit of the nuances of the game to help them pick up the game quicker and feel more comfortable on the course. And generally avoid negative phrases like “Can we play through?”, “Pick up the pace”, or “Wow, we are playing slow”. Just keep the conversation lighthearted and positive to show your support.
Encourage them to take a lesson – If they haven’t done so, recommend that they take a lesson and relate to them how it helped your game. Maybe even recommend a pro or walk them through how easy it is to get signed up for a lesson. Group lessons are an inexpensive way to go and they might even be able to recruit a friend.
The power of an invitation – Invite them to play another round in the future. They probably don’t have many golfing friends, yet. Invite them to hit the driving range with you—you’ll both get more practice. If you see someone who needs a group to play with, invite them to join you. The fun part about the game is meeting new people and making new friends. If you belong to a club that welcomes non-handicap players, invite them to join.
Have fun – Regardless of how well you’re playing, have fun. They too will have an enjoyable round and want to come back. You’re outdoors, you’re with friends, you’re having fun. In the end it’s why we golf.
WA Golf members share some of the best advice they received:
- Lynda Adams, Past PNGA President and the first female PNGA President
- “Your shorts are too short.”
- “We play fast here.”
- “You just stepped on my line.”
- Setting up to putt… “Knock it in!!”
- “Your shorts are too short…. You’ll have to wear your rain pants.”
- LOL… it was a bumpy ride!
- Diana B.
- The best advice I received when beginning my golf journey was from my husband. He had a single-digit handicap at the time, and I (after a couple of false starts) was bitten by the golf bug when we were both stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana. My office was having a golf day, and so I took a few golf lessons so I wouldn’t make a complete fool of myself in front of my commanding officer. I was hooked! As I progressed, and began playing rounds with my hubby, he reminded me of a Clint Eastwood quote that had helped him progress: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” He challenged me to always try to improve, but to recognize my skills (and some lack thereof), and to use that recognition to develop my playing tactics. I knew I could sometimes hit the ball a long way, and sometimes in the direction I planned. By recognizing my limitations, I could (and did) begin to plan my way around the golf course.
- Someone told me to not worry about the bad shots. He said it happens to everyone.
- Terri B.
- The best suggestion I’ve ever received was when my daughter introduced me to the ‘triple bogey’ rule. If a particular hole is defeating me, pick up and move on.
- Elise B.
- …. Just to go out and have fun and enjoy the outdoors. The golf scores will “come down in time”!
- Sandie B.
- The best advice I received when I started playing golf was: “don’t listen to every amateur that wants to point out everything you are doing wrong-especially while you are playing a round-it just frustrates you and makes your play worse.” If the people you are playing with persist in making suggestions and corrections, politely ask them to refrain. Tell them you are taking lessons.
- Amelia B.
My 11-year-old daughter first started going to the driving range with me when she was 3. The main thing I did, besides to be encouraging on the range or the course, once she started playing, was to not push it too hard. I have always let her know that, when I invite her to the range or to play, it’s okay if she doesn’t feel like it or if she has other things she’d rather do. Sometimes, when I would go to the range, I’d just let her know I was going, and not ask her to come along. Most of the time, she would then ask to come. I have also always made it clear that if she ever wants a break from golf, it’s okay. Fortunately, she never has!
The other thing we do a lot is practice at home together. We have a ton of old golf balls in a tub in the backyard where we practice chipping. We also practice shorter chipping and putting in the living room. (She has said that the words “chipping” and “living room” should not be used in the same sentence! But it’s okay, there’s enough room.)
The third thing I do with her is have contests when chipping in the yard, the living room, or on the putting green at the local course. It helps inspire her competitive spirit!
- Twyla C.
- The best advice I learned when starting to play was to not follow a bad shot with another bad shot. Regroup, choose your club carefully, slow down, and focus on making good contact with the ball. The bad shot is behind you. The most important shot is the next one.
- Alison F.
- Go buy Ben Hogan’s Five Fundamentals of Golf and memorize it. I still pull it out and review after 30 years of playing.
- Jeanette M.
- Keep up with the group you are in. If you are having trouble on a hole, don’t be afraid to pick up and move on.
- Carol M.
- I started by walking with my husband and just putting when he got to the green. I’d drop a ball and putt it out. Then I added chipping and putting each hole with my husband while I was taking lessons. I started hitting from the front tees once I was more comfortable with my low irons but my driver was super frustrating so I concentrated on all my irons. Then I added hybrids. Joining the women’s Niners group was super great because they were all so encouraging and 9 holes was way more comfortable. Next I need to add my 5 wood and driver and my goal is to be able to join the 18 hole women’s group next spring by working all year.
- Pat S.
- Best advice I received was “hit down on irons and up on woods.”
- Judy T.
- Focus on target and tempo. One shot at a time. HAVE FUN!
- Clarie T.
- Advice when I was first learning to play golf (before keeping score!):
- Kick it back into the short grass
- Keep your head down and eye on the ball
- Laugh and have fun! You paid to play!
- No worries, you could be home cleaning house
- That one good shot will keep you coming back!
- Advice when I was first learning to play golf (before keeping score!):
- Jo H.
- Keep moving forward
- Never leave your cart (push or otherwise) behind you.
- You never want to walk ‘back’ to your cart.
- The cart should always be beside you when you hit the ball. One simple thing that will help to keep the game moving.
- Kay F.
- Remember to concentrate on one shot at a time, take a deep breath and relax!
- Kelly W.
- Best suggestion when I first started to play – use the 150 mark as your tee box. Allows you to be comfortable playing with other better golfers without affecting pace of play significantly. Use the hand wedge out of sand if you aren’t able to get out after 2 tries. You will eventually – don’t beat yourself up when you’re still learning.