Tom’s Tip: Starting Out Properly

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, October 27th, 2018


Back in the 1980’s I had an opportunity to play golf with the
legendary comedian Bob Hope who told me his thoughts on the game. “If you watch a game it’s fun. If you play at it, it’s recreation. If you work at it, it’s golf.”
Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of beginners who thought
hitting a golf ball would be easy, at least until they tried it. Golf
can be a frustrating and time-consuming game to learn.
My recommendation is to practice patience…take your time geting to the range and avoid swinging away the minute you arrive.
Learn on the practice range as your mind will not be on scoring,
but on learning. Here are few things to know and practice:
1. First, and most importantly, find a respected golf instructor in
your area, and have them provide information on their program. Avoid any candidate that is not qualified to teach or can’t provide
refrences. Poor information can lead bad habits.
2. Golf is a game of feel, not mechanics alone. Too much detail is
confusing. You cannot think your way through a golf swing…feel your way through.
3. Finally, short practice sessions regularly are better than one
long session. Practice and good repetition teaches the mind and
muscles to learn to feel, creating your own “internal dialogue” that
you, and only you, can describe to yourself.
Ultimately, start out with a game plan and take your time because
as the saying goes, “You must learn to crawl before you can walk.”
The first place a new golfer can have an immediate impact is on
the greens. What’s the easiest shot in golf that all beginners can
execute properly? It’s the “gimmie” putt. As the distance between the cup and ball becomes greater the tougher it gets to make putts.
Start out with shorter swings, building up to the full swing.
Learning to hit for distance, and then for accuracy, is putting the
cart before the horse. It works the other way around. Ultimately,
accuracy will create distance so it makes sense to swing, and not just hit the ball. We are all obsessed with power and distance, however, in the long run it’s not conducive I can promise you.
Putting is a good example of this hitting tendency. The closer the
target the easier it is to make a good stroke. A three foot putt is
easier than a 20 footer. Why? The closer to the hole the less
inclination there is to hit it.
In learning to play golf simple sound techniques will endure in
the long run. Good, solid fundamentals are essential to success in
anything you do in your life. The alternative is to spend time and
money on quick fix solutions that put a band aid on swing issues that leave you more confused and frustrated. Golf is not about occasionally hitting good shots or having a good round here or there. It’s about being consistent….putting youself in position on a daily basis of reaching your potential as a player.
Flashing back to the first time I played with the great Bob Hope
he told me a joke prior to teeing off. Hope said,
“Remember kid, there are two things in life that don’t last long
in this world, and that’s a dog that chases cars and golf pros putting for pars.”
I got the subtle message and thankfully my practice sessions
allowed me to put my game on cruise control which ultimatly helped us win our match.
Golf became a fun activity for me because I worked at it
correctly and didn’t try to cut corners in the learning process.
In working with my beginner students I try to make learning the
game of golf a fun journey, impacting lifelong fundamentals that will hold up under pressure and the test of time.

 Tom Ward can be contacted at


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