You’ve been practicing and preparing, and it’s finally time to go out for your first real round of golf. Whether it’s a work outing or a casual nine-hole joint with some of your best girlfriends in the world, this can still be a nerve-wracking concept. No need to worry; just keep these 10 things in mind and you’ll be fine.
1. Nobody cares how well you play, as long as you do it fast. You can whiff every other shot and still get invited back, over and over. Just make sure you move quickly between shots and pick up your ball if you’re falling too far behind.
2. The golf course is not a driving range. Even if you’re stinking it up big time, save your game analysis and repetitive practice swings for after the round.
3. Have fun, but keep the chit-chat to a minimum. Talking too much with your playing companions between swings will slow you down and take your focus off the game.
4. Focus on your playing partners as much as on yourself. If somebody else is swinging or putting, you need to stop what you’re doing, stand still and be quiet. Then proceed.
5. Bring lots of inexpensive golf balls. You’ll lose plenty in the beginning, and the worst thing you can do is waste everybody’s time by searching for them for too long.
6. Knowing the rules of the game is not as important as knowing the etiquette. No one will care if, as a beginner, you tee of an inch in front of the markers or ground your club in the bunker. But they will care if you don’t rake that bunker after you’re done.
7. Keeping score is completely unnecessary. Until you have a few rounds under your belt, it’s more likely to add a lot of stress to your round.
8. You don’t have to accept unsolicited swing advice from friends and/or strangers. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will want to “help” you hit the ball better. Politely decline and tell them you’re working on your swing off the course. Or your game will suffer.
9. Driving a golf cart is harder than you think. If you must ride, let somebody else take the wheel for your first few rounds, or you’re bound to drive it in places you’re not allowed to and blow past tees without letting people off.
10. Nobody cares how well you play, as long as you do it fast. (It’s worth repeating.)