Golf Tips For Beginners: 10 Top Golf Tips to Improve Your Game

golf for beginners

It’s hard to argue that golf is one of the most addictive sports in the world. When people catch the “golf bug” it usually has them for the rest of their lives. 

Which is pretty awesome, because you can play this game for a long time and meet amazing people in the process. Some of my best memories have happened on a golf course and I want the same type of experience for you. 

But if you’re just starting out, golf can feel a little overwhelming. All the shots you need to hit, golf jargon, tons of rules, and more. To make it easier for you to understand, here are 10 beginner golf tips.

Golf Tips For Beginners: 10 Ways to Get Better at Golf

1. Learn About the Swing

The first tip for any beginner golfer is to learn about the swing. Watch YouTube videos, read blogs like these, read club reviews, and learn from your friends who are golfers. While there is a point where you can “get down the rabbit hole” and consume too much information, the beginning is all about learning. 

As a brand-new golfer it’s important to understand how the swing works and all the clubs that make up your set. If possible, I suggest taking lessons from a professional so you can start out the game with proper golf technique before developing bad habits. 

If you’re intimidated to get started with lessons, recruit a friend for beginner golf lessons. You can gain tons of information, improve your golf grip, fix your slice, and learn some fundamentals to the game. Plus, avoid future bad habits that might ruin your golf game. 

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2. Understand the Rules and Etiquette of Playing Golf 

One thing you will quickly learn about golf is that there are a ton of rules. While you don’t need to study the USGA rule book tomorrow, get to know the basic rules of golf early on in your journey. This will make it more fun for you and your playing partners. 

Aside from the formal rules, learn the lingo and golf etiquette as well. Some easy tips to remember are: 

  • Tee it forward.
  • Turn your phone on silent mode.  
  • Stay quiet when fellow golfers are hitting. 
  • Play ready golf and don’t slow down other groups. 
  • Avoid walking in other people’s line from their ball to the hole on the greens. 

3. Nail Your Setup 

80% or more of what happens to your golf ball happens before you ever swing the golf club. Your setup position plays a major role in helping you hit consistent golf shots.  

The most important things to focus on are:

  • Your grip.
  • Weight distribution. 
  • Alignment (feet, hips, and shoulders).

If you can setup square to your intended target, everything gets so much easier. 

To nail your setup on every golf shot it’s a good idea to use alignment aids and record your swing occasionally. Sometimes a quick video of your golf swing will show that your feet or hips are right and that’s causing some issues. Most swing issues come from a poor setup, more than a bad golf swing. 

It’s also a good idea to keep an alignment rod (or several) in your bag. Paired with a device like Tour Aim you can improve every practice session and not create bad habits. 

4. Play the Right Equipment for Beginners

Golf is a hard game to begin with, but if you play the wrong equipment, it’s even more difficult. When you’re first starting out in golf, make sure to play golf clubs that match your game. 

As a beginner golfer you want:

  • Very forgiving golf clubs.
  • Light, graphite shafts. 
  • Durable, comfortable grips. 
  • Lower cost golf balls made for beginners.
  • A lightweight bag that is easy to transport. 

As you progress from a beginner to an intermediate golfer, you should start to experiment with new clubs. The better you get, the more you’ll need more compact irons, more wedges, and possibly different hybrids/long irons. Plus, as you swing the club faster you will need to use different shafts as it will impact your trajectory, distance, and accuracy. 

5. Focus on Distance Not Accuracy 

Golf is becoming more and more of a distance game. 

While accuracy is important to some extent, I’d argue that distance is even more important. If you can hit more wedges and short irons into greens (even if you’re in the rough), chances are you will score better.  

So in the beginning of your golf career, focus on distance as much as possible. Test out different drivers, different shafts, tee heights, swing speeds, and more to max out your distance. Once you hit it long, then you can work on accuracy.

The best way to improve your clubhead speed is to use a speed training device like Rypstick or SuperSpeed Golf. These are great training aids that can help you gain speed fast and start to hit longer than you ever thought possible. 

The best part is that you don’t need to use them daily or spend hours each week. 15–20 minutes a few times a week over 2–3 months will lead to more speed and longer distances. Paired with solid fitness routines and you’ll have a huge advantage over other golfers who aren’t speed training.

6. Trust Your Golfers Instinct

Listen to your gut more often than not when playing golf. 

If you get to your shot and instantly think it’s a 9 iron to the green, hit the nine. Or, if you walk up to a putt and instantly think it’s a straight putt, don’t try to find a break in it. I would argue that 90% of the time your first instinct is right when reading greens and picking clubs to hit.

When you trust your first instinct, you have much less doubt when standing over your shot or putt. This usually leads to hitting a better shot or putt as you’re 100% committed and not second guessing yourself. 

Don’t overcomplicate the game as you’ll make it hard to get in the zone and play your best golf. 

7. Have the Right Mindset

If you’re brand new to golf, I want to be the first to say this game is hard… like really hard. But it’s also arguably the most rewarding game as well. 

To shoot lower scores and enjoy the game, have the right golf mindset when you’re on the course. Focus on being grateful for being there instead of disappointed if you don’t play well or score well. Even the best players in the world have terrible rounds, so don’t beat yourself up, especially as a beginner.

Instead, whenever you hit a “bad” shot, don’t get mad… get curious. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this” and it’ll be much more useful than getting mad or throwing a golf club. 

Plus, I’ve found the more you enjoy the game, the more the golf Gods seem to reward you too. 

8. Create a Pre-Shot Routine 

If you’re just starting out, chances are you spend most of your time learning to create a consistent swing. While obviously that’s important, a pre-shot routine is a big factor in taking your game from the range to the golf course. 

So many golfers are known as “range players” because they hit it great on the driving range but awful on the course. One reason this happens is that they don’t have a pre-shot routine to help calm their nerves on the course.  

If you watch the PGA Tour, you’ll see each player has their own routine to help them stay focused and calm. Next time you’re at the driving range, create your own pre-shot routine to help shoot lower rounds on the course. 

Here are a few basics to understand what makes an effective routine:

  • On full shots, take your practice swing behind the ball (not next to it) so you can see the shot and create a good picture for your mind.
  • Take 1-2 “rehearsal swings” not practice swings.  Think of them as a mental rehearsal for the shot you’re about to hit.
  • Once you’re over the ball, pull the trigger faster. Studies have found that less time over the ball leads to better shots. The longer you linger, the more likely you are to doubt or second guess your club, shot, or target. 

9. Practice and Play Golf

Shooting lower scores in golf doesn’t happen from just endlessly hitting golf balls on the driving range. The range always has a perfect lie, no rough, no awkward lies, and no specific target. Sure, it’s good to ingrain your swing there, but get out to the course too. 

By playing golf and not just practicing, you can learn a ton about your game. Then, after your round, you can review what went well and what to work on in your next practice session. 

Plus, you will learn how to play shots that you simply can’t practice on the range. This will improve your golf IQ and make you an intermediate player in no time.

10. Master Your Short Game 

50% or more of all shots happen from inside 100 yards. 

As a beginner, the easiest way to save 5-10 (or more) shots every round is to master the short, simple shots in golf. Most players neglect short game practice and their game suffers as a result. 

Use these two easy rules to master your short game and shoot lower scores: 

Rule 1: Putt Whenever Possible 

If you think you can putt it, do it! Keeping the ball on the ground will give you a much better chance of getting it closer to the hole. 

Unfortunately, most golfers try to hit high pitches or flop shots because they look cooler than a putt. But if you look at proximity averages even for skilled golfers, putting is usually the best play as your misses will be much better. 

Rule 2: Learn the Bump-N-Run

If you can’t putt it, chip it (don’t pitch it). A simple bump and run type golf shot is similar to a putt and one of the easiest shots to develop. 

Not to mention, it’s super consistent as you’re using a club with a lower loft. This makes it easy to pop the ball off the face and get it rolling on the green like a putt. Your misses are better and once you learn the fundamentals it’s a very easy shot to play consistently. 

Top Questions About Golf as a Beginner

Need more free golf tips for beginners? We got you covered, just keep reading our top questions and answers below. 

What are 3 good golf tips for beginners?

As you can tell from above there are tons of tips for beginner golfers to help your game from tee to green. But here are three more free golf tips for beginners to save shots every round.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to any other golfer. Only compare yourself to the player you were a week, month, or year ago. Everyone has their own journey in golf, don’t compare your chapter one to someone else who is in chapter seven.
  2. Leave technical swing thoughts on the driving range. Golf is the only sport where players obsess over mechanics. Think about it, you don’t hear NFL quarterbacks obsess over weight shift, shoulder rotation, or lower body movement. Yet, most everyday golfers stress endlessly about mechanics and swing technique. Improve your technique on the range but only take one swing thought with you to the golf course to play your best. 
  3. Get custom fit once you can break 90. Equipment plays a big role in getting the most out of your game so make sure to get a custom fitting appointment as you become more consistent. This will help you find the right clubhead, shafts, and grips that are right for your game. Trust me, it’s worth every penny. 

What is the best golf tip ever?

I’d say the best golf tips ever aren’t so much a swing tip but a piece of mindset advice. Everything is a learning opportunity – whether it’s your first round ever, a normal practice session or a tournament round. At the end of the day, it’s all just an opportunity to learn more about your golf game.

Additionally, I always recommend beginners to play with better golfers, sooner rather than later. Even if you’re “scared” to play with better golfers, it will speed up the learning curve. You can see how they hit certain shots, what choices they make throughout the round, and a lot more. 

Just remember, anytime you’re hitting a golf ball, it’s an opportunity to learn and improve. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to play great or hit every shot great (because even the pros hit tons of bad shots). Take your time, enjoy the process, and keep learning to speed up your improvement. 

What should a beginner learn in golf? 

A beginner in golf should learn grip, stance, posture, and how the hips/shoulders rotate. Most golfers neglect their lower body and use their upper body entirely. But as you know, the legs are the biggest muscles in the body and need to play an active role in your golf swing. 

Otherwise, you will hit a lot of slices, hit more golf balls in the trees, and make the game harder. By learning the sequence of each body part it will help you groove a more consistent swing. 

Can I teach myself golf?

Yes, you can teach yourself golf and a lot of great players have a “homemade” swing. But for a lot of golfers this is challenging as the swing is such a complex move that happens at high speeds. Not to mention there are tons of shots you need to master to become a consistent player.

I think it’s great to get to know your swing but don’t be afraid to hire a coach for an occasional lesson too. You don’t need to visit them every week or even every month, but having someone in your corner to check your swing can help. Plus, they might assist with short game, bunker shots, course management, putting and more. 

If you do teach yourself golf, just remember that less is more. If you watch 20 YouTube videos a day it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused on the driving range. Take 1-2 swing thoughts or training aids with you and keep it simple.

Lastly, make sure you record your swing regularly on your phone to track your progress over time. With so many golf apps you can easily assess your swing, document great shots, and learn from the less than stellar shots. Carry a small tripod in your bag so you can always capture great learning moments at the driving range. 

Is 50 too old to learn golf?

No, 50 is a great age and still has a ton of potential ahead of you. Whether you start golf at 10, 25, or 50 years old, we all have to start somewhere. I suggest starting sooner rather than later to progress and enjoy this game for the long haul. 

What are the four steps to the golf swing? 

The four steps to the golf swing are setup, backswing, downswing, and follow through. Each one plays a crucial role in the next step of the swing. 

Most golfers need to spend more time on their grip, alignment, and stance to make a better swing. If your body is off before you swing you will have to make corrections in the backswing or downswing that will lead to some bad shots. Master the fundamentals in the beginning to make the rest of your golf journey smoother. 

Final Thoughts

The great Jack Nicklaus once said, “Golf is the easiest game in the world to quit. But it’s also the greatest game not to quit. Because when you conquer the game again, when you hit good shots again, golf is an even greater game than it was before.” 

This might be the greatest piece of golf advice ever! 

Even on your worst days, don’t give up. Keep improving, learning, and always, have fun as golf is just a game and one you can play the rest of your life.

What’s your biggest tip for beginner golfers? 

Let us know in the comments below. 

Picture of Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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