Golf is challenging enough so here are five suggestions to play (and have fun) by...

First a rule of thumb: If you have not reached the point where you can swing a 7-iron and get a teed-up ball airborne, you probably should be staying on the range for a little while longer.

1) You are Just Another Golfer

Recognize and embrace that golf is first and foremost a recreation and social activity. Don’t get caught up in the fact you are just starting and worrying about what others are thinking or judging about your play. Everyone was a beginner at some point and everyone, no matter what their level, can feel anxious about a shot. You are not alone... you are just another golfer wanting to have a good time. Just relax.

2) Play with Less Clubs

When you are just starting, a full set of clubs is not really necessary and can actually hinder your development. The first club to drop likely should be the driver. Its low loft (flat face) means it’s harder to get the ball airborne and also can take your shot off-line. A 15-degree three-wood automatically will go higher and have more backspin. Do a test at the range: Hit five of each with the same swing and see which tend to go farther, straighter, and higher. For the irons, consider carrying only the even-numbered ones. (4, 6, 8, PW). This will actually help you learn how to swing easier, swing harder, and develop some creativity. Your bag also will weigh less.

If there is a forced carry over water and the tee ahead takes it out of play, feel free to move up even if it’s just for that hole.

3) Choosing the Right-Priced Ball

When you are a beginner, it’s almost a guarantee that you will use (or lose) more golf balls. Thinking about the cost of the ball if you plonk it in the pond in front of you generally does not turn out well. Also, feel in golf is something that is developed over time and that applies to balls just as much as in your swing. Spending money on more expensive balls makes little sense when you can not feel or sense much difference nor get much return on investment for the added (few) yards a premium performance ball may provide. A decent quality distance ball that costs half as much as a premium ball is usually the best choice for any recreational player. A good rule of thumb is once you can “feel” the difference between hitting a range ball compared to a decent quality ball on the course, then maybe it’s time to look at more expensive options.

4) Play from the Appropriate Tees

Choosing which tees you play from maybe the only decision a starting golfer has 100% control over. Unless you are able to already hit a ball more than 170 yards off the tee, move up to the most forward tee. They will usually be designed to take ponds and lakes out of play and almost guarantee your second shot will be from the fairway. Change tees just for one hole if you feel the need. If there is a forced carry over water and the tee ahead takes it out of play, feel free to move up even if it’s just for that hole.

If you just feel like taking a break, tell your playing partners you are picking up... EVERY golfer has done this. 

5) Don’t Be Afraid Of Picking Up

This is not supposed to be torture. If you are fed up and want to just take a break, tell your playing partners you are picking up. Don’t worry about what others may think... EVERY golfer has done this on more occasions than they likely care to remember. Also, another rule of thumb can be double par. If you have played double the strokes of that hole, picking up may be a good idea. If you are playing using Stableford scoring and you have reached the point where you can not score any points, picking up will save time too.

Bonus Idea:

Start by not playing by all of the rules. When you are starting, just keeping your focus on how to swing is enough.