Ivan Morris - Insider’s guide for new women golfers

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
GOLF is the ideal game for women but those who have not grown up in a golfing environment find the rules and rituals peculiar to golf off-putting. But, believe me, golf is the perfect game for females. You don’t have to be strong or tall, or even particularly athletic, to play golf passably well. Some women become very good players but the majority are more than happy to simply enjoy the company of friends in a golfing atmosphere.

GOLF is the ideal game for women but those who have not grown up in a golfing environment find the rules and rituals peculiar to golf off-putting. But, believe me, golf is the perfect game for females. You don’t have to be strong or tall, or even particularly athletic, to play golf passably well. Some women become very good players but the majority are more than happy to simply enjoy the company of friends in a golfing atmosphere.

Women who learn the etiquette of golf 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. The unease often caused by golf’s etiquette is not confined to women and it is a non-negotiable prerequisite that is as important as learning the rules. Etiquette is a critical first step in learning the game and is vital to being accepted and welcomed into the fold by experienced golfers. If you think about it, etiquette does no more than highlight safety issues, proper consideration for other players, playing by the rules and taking good care of the golf course.

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 that are easily answered. Again, there is no need to worry. Everyone begins golf with these same questions and is faced with making the same first, nervous steps. No novice is expected to know and fully understand the rules and manners of golf without instruction and guidance.

Here is a random, if incomplete list. Always stand facing the hitter but out of their line of sight. Sand still and do not talk when somebody else is about to play a stroke. Be ready to play when it is your turn. Line up your putts while others are putting. Always keep up with the players ahead NOT just ahead of the players behind – if you do so nobody can EVER accuse you of being a slow player. If you always keep up what is happening behind you is irrelevant. Always leave your trolley at the side of the green nearest the next tee.

All golfer’s agree that keeping a good pace of play is very important to the enjoyment of the game. There is nothing worse than being held up by excessively slow play ahead. Remember that there can often be more than 100 people on the golf course at the same time even if you may see only a few of them.

Most golf clubs operate a strictly enforced dress code for both men and women. Clothing manufacturers produce a wide variety of extremely smart outfits with design features aimed to help golfers of both sexes feel comfortable. A golf course is not the place for bold fashion statements. Be conservate and you will be sure to blend in. 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.

Probably the most important piece of advice that can be given to a beginner is to take professional lessons from the outset. Lessons are well worth the effort and expense. Bad habits are hard to break, whereas if you learn the correct grip, stance and swing motion from the beginning, it really does pay off later.

For all of its sociability, and the fact that all golfers genuinely wish each other well, golf is a self-centred game. Other golfers are not really concerned about how you are doing. Take it as a given that all golfers are primarily concerned with her own play. What is important to other players in your group is your awareness on the course, your ability to keep up and to remember where your golf ball is at all times. There is nothing worse than playing with somebody who never knows where their golf ball is. In golf, keeping up with the play and practicing good etiquette is what wins friends and influences people!

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. Keeping a record of that information is quite sufficient to show if you are improving. Very soon, the majority of newcomers to golf become ‘hooked,’ which is the reason why the game has grown and become so popular over the years. Golf is an international game and an international ‘language’ – it is capable of opening many doors to new friendships, especially in foreign lands. Go for it – enjoy the challenge and good company – golf is a wonderful game that lasts a lifetime.

Words of the Wise:

You turn off your mind. You feel your golf swing without really thinking about it. It’s almost like you don’t think at all. Maybe you have one little thought, and everything else becomes automatic – Graeme McDowell