In part 1 of our starter pack blog, we covered what equipment new golfers must have to get started in golf. This beginner golf “starter pack” included clubs, balls, and tees, and we talked about how these essential items can be acquired cheaply and quickly. Now that you have a general idea of the equipment needed to get started, getting out onto the course is within reach!
While the necessary equipment needed in golf is pretty straightforward and easy to acquire, it can still be challenging for new golfers who have never played before to smoothly transition into playing on public courses. Between the extensive etiquette rules, confusing golf rules, dress codes, and other golf nuances it can seem overwhelming trying to start. This can certainly be a lot to grasp, but it is really a lot simpler than it appears!
When looking to play on public golf courses, it is always best to call ahead and book a tee time (you can book online most places too) rather than just showing up. During the golf busy season, most courses will not be able to get you out without booking a tee time in advance. Golf courses make booking tee times a very simple process, and golf courses will allot four people per tee time slot. This means that each tee time will allow for a maximum of four people per group. Here at the American Classic we book our tee times in 10 minute increments, meaning that every 10 minutes a new group will tee off. This allows for each group to get out ahead of the group behind them, which helps the course flow smoothly. If you have a 9:00 tee time, it is best to get there at least 15 minutes early to ensure you can check in and get ready to start at 9:00. The goal is to tee off at 9:00, and showing up exactly at your scheduled tee time can make that nearly impossible. Late starts can hinder the pace of play on the course, so arriving early greatly helps the course! To book your tee time, simply call the course clubhouse or book online if your course offers it.
Now that you have booked your tee time and are ready to head to the course, let’s talk about some golf course etiquette rules that can apply to all public golf courses. To start, one of the most important etiquette rules to consider is pace of play. Pace of play relates to how long it takes to play your round, and how fast each group plays affects this. Since most courses will separate their tee times in 10 minute increments, it is important to aim to finish each hole in that allotted time. For example, if you are taking 15-20 minutes to finish one hole, you will hold up the groups behind you and hinder the flow of the course. Longer holes, like par 5’s and long par 4’s, will take some more time but these holes will also take the other groups longer as well. With that being said, you do not want to rush around the course and constantly stress over how fast you are playing. After all, golf is meant to be fun and relaxing, so finding a balance between keeping pace and rushing is crucial to your experience. Here are some tips to help you keep it moving without overstressing!
- Plan your next shot as you are moving towards your ball, not when you reach it
- Don’t be afraid to drop further along in the fairway or elsewhere if you lose a ball out of bounds
- Consider playing alternate game formats like a scramble
- Play “ready golf”- whoever is ready to go should hit no matter what
- Make sure to watch your ball all the way to the ground. This helps you find your ball quicker and can avoid unnecessary looking time
Continuing on with course etiquette, many superintendents and course grounds crew workers would be upset if golf course care was not mentioned. When playing on public golf courses, taking care of the course is very important. This mainly relates to fixing divots and the ground in which you play on. A divot is a piece of turf that is dug out of the course when playing a shot. If you have torn up some turf on a shot (this is normal and will happen) replacing the chunk that flew out can speed up the recovery process and also fill in the hole left in the turf. Many courses will also provide you with seeding/sand and ask you to fill the areas tore up to help the turf recover.
The greens are the most delicate part of a golf course, so always be cautious and try not to damage them. Do not drive your golf cart on the greens! That may seem obvious, but I have seen some crazy things on the golf course. Fixing your ball marks/divots on the greens is also a crucial aspect of taking care of the course.
A final thing to consider regarding etiquette is the course dress code. Many courses will not allow clothing items like jeans or non-collared shirts, so make sure to ask before you head over. Here at the American Classic we are laid back about this and do not have a dress code, so feel free to wear whatever you are comfortable with when playing here!
Booking tee times, showing up early, keeping pace, and taking care of the course while playing will ensure a smooth and fun transition into golf! In the beginning, I would not stress over every little golf rule, and focus mainly on these etiquette basics while having fun with your friends on the course. Golf is a great game, and following these basics will make getting out onto the course stress-free!
-Sam Cresta, Assistant Golf Professional at American Classic Golf Club
Book A Tee Time For American Classic Here!