Want to make 2015 your best year ever? Then make a commitment to improve your own game and help your curious girlfriends get into golf. Because the only thing better than enjoying great golf is to do it alongside people who make you laugh.
By Nancy Berkley
- Give a gift of introductory lessons to a friend who’s “New to Golf.” There are now many facilities that offer value-priced introductory lessons. You might consider taking the lessons with her; that’s what friends (and parents) do. Alternatively, invite three friends, hire a golf instructor, stay around for lunch and have a party!
- Take a playing lesson. As soon as you’re comfortable on the practice tee and able to make contact with the ball regardless of how far you hit it, ask a golf professional to give you a “playing lesson” on the course. Tell her or him that you want to ride around at least nine holes and take a variety of shots from different places. You’ll be surprised how much more comfortable you will feel about learning the game when you know more about strategy in general.
- If you have a friend who may think of herself as an “advanced beginner” and you know the game a little better, take her out on the course. Spend some time on a green and toss out two balls. Explain green etiquette: How to mark your ball, who putts first, who holds the flag, etc. Good green etiquette is a real confidence-builder. Sooner than you think, your good friend could also be your favorite golf partner.
- Regardless of how well you play, join the women’s association at the facility you frequent the most. An active women’s association encourages your club’s management to pay attention to its female golfers. Ideally, your women’s group should have a leader that women respect who can be your “voice” in communicating with management. A single, respected voice is usually more effective than a dozen women asking for the same thing. If there is no women’s association, ask the golf director or head golf professional or the board of directors to help you start one. Volunteer to help organize it.
- Find your problem distance and master it. For example, focus on the 100-yard marker and practice that distance over and over. If you discover that you’re always 20 yards short of the green, practice short pitches and chips. “It’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive” is a common golf saying. Make this the year you master your short game and putting.
- Resolve to master the greenside bunker shot. Most women will hit better shots onto the green if they don’t tighten up their swing in fear of landing in that hazard near the putting surface. So put a stop to that. Master this shot so you can get the ball up and out and hopefully close to the pin.
- Get yourself a handicap Index. Handicaps allow golfers of different abilities to play on a level playing field, and you can register for a handicap at your local golf course or through the association you belong to. Any player who’s able to play nine holes and keep score in accordance with the Rules of Golf is eligible for a handicap, and you can post your scores for handicap purposes even if you only play nine-hole rounds. Do not let anyone (including your golf pro) tell you that you don’t need a handicap—it’s a great motivator.
Nancy Berkley, the president of Berkley Golf Consulting, is an expert on women’s golf and junior-girls golf. She is a frequent contributor to www.cybergolf.com/womensgolf. Her book, “Women Welcome Here! A Guide to Growing Women’s Golf,” published by the National Golf Foundation, is an industry reference on marketing golf to women and spotting trends within the industry. Berkley is a member of the World Golf Foundation’s Women’s Committee.