Women who have not grown up in a golfing environment often find its rules and rituals off-putting but golf is the perfect game for females. You don’t have to be strong or tall or even especially athletic to play golf well. Diminutive Morgan Pressel, the LPGA star, is a typical example. Her parents were professional tennis players but at age 8, her grandfather decided that Morgan would never be quick enough around the court to reach the top at tennis. He brought her to the golf course instead and taught her how to play.
There isn’t a Golf Club in Ireland that would not welcome a budding Morgan Pressel with open arms but too often, ladies only take up golf after they are married. If only they would learn how to play as teenagers, like riding a bicycle, they would never forget.
Golf is an ideal game for women; not only for the playing side but the social activities that are attached also. Women who learn properly from the start are quickly accepted and there is always the added bonus that golf is a unisex game and there are no age barriers.
It is not only women beginners who say: what’s this thing called etiquette? What does par mean? Why are tee times at such peculiar times like 10.07 or 11.14? Why do I need more clubs than balls? What should I wear? How do I get started? All valid questions but easily answered. No novice is expected to know the rules and manners of golf without instruction but it can be a shock to be handed an indecipherable rulebook on one’s first day and told to study it and always keep it with you as part of the ‘equipment.’
The term ‘etiquette’ has connotations that are often misunderstood by non-golfers, but it is an important first step to learning the game and is vital to being accepted and welcomed by experienced golfers. Etiquette does no more than highlight safety issues, priority on the course, consideration for other players and the care of the golf course itself.
The first lesson of etiquette is obvious – be careful! Golf equipment has the potential to be lethal if used without care. Never swing a club if there is anybody standing near you. Nobody is expected to be an expert on the rules on day one but the right attitude to, and understanding of etiquette, will ensure that the game is played in the right spirit and everybody will have a safe and more enjoyable game.
A golf course is not the place for bold fashion statements. Most golf clubs operate a dress code for both men and women which is intended to maintain a sense of decorum. There is a wide variety of extremely smart outfits with design features aimed to help golfers of both sexes feel comfortable. Tops should be easy fitting, with a collar and/or sleeves. Any logos should be small and discreet. Colour is only important as it applies to the weather. Bottoms: lots of choices: slacks, pants, shorts, skirts and skorts (worn just above the knee.) All comfortable enough to be worn for up to five hours of walking, bending and stretching.
Remember: golf clothes must have deep, easily accessible pockets. Socks are always obligatory but the length required can vary from club to club. Finally, golf and denim do not mix – do not even think about wearing it to any golf club, anywhere, anytime. Hint: Being conservative will always blend in.
Probably the most important advice for any beginner, male or female, is to take professional lessons from the outset. Lessons are well worth the effort and expense. If you learn the correct grip, stance and swing motion from the beginning, it really does pay off later.
Tips: Always arrive half-an-hour before your tee time. Check that you have all the necessary equipment with you – especially extra golf balls. Be ready to play when it is your turn. Keep up and be silent and still when others are playing a shot. Place ball marker directly behind the ball. Leave trolley at the side of green nearest to the next tee.
At the beginning do not bother to count all of your strokes. If you play a good hole by all means count that! But if you find yourself in trouble from which you cannot escape – just pick up your ball and place it back on the fairway. Nobody will care and your playing partners will thank you for being sensible. If you really must keep score, do so by counting your ‘good’ and ‘bad’ holes – not strokes.
A high percentage of newcomers become ‘addicts for life,’ which is the reason why the game has grown and become so popular. Golf is an international game and an international ‘language,’ capable of opening doors to new friendships worldwide.