Primer: Golf Guide with Golf Tips For Beginners Who Have Never Played

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Below we discuss the golf course and scoring terminology.

The course – basic terminology:

Tee Box – At the beginning of each hole there is an area set aside for the golfer to tee up the ball and hit it.  Usually, there are markers that determine the tee box for beginners, middle level players and the tee box for the big hitters which is the farthest back. The tee box you start from as a beginner is usually somewhere up front.  For the longest holes you might want to use your Driver.

The Fairway – After hitting out of the tee box on a longer hole, your ball should land in the middle of the course.  If you are skillful enough to pull this off your ball will be in the Fairway.  This is the most advantageous position to be in for your next shot.

The Rough – If we miss the fairway due to a need to fix your slice, most courses will penalize you by making you play your shot from the ‘rough’ which usually means long grass.  The club you use will depend on the length of the rough and the ‘lie’ of the ball.  Is your ball sitting on top of the rough like another tee shot?  This would be considered a good ‘lie’ and allows you to use almost any club you like.  Is your ball buried down in the long grass?  This would be a bad ‘lie’ and usually requires a highly loft iron to properly exit.

Bunker – This is an obstacle (basically a hole filled with sand) that is strategically place to provide a level of risk for certain shots.  For instance, a bunker might be right next to a green making it risky to go straight for the hole.  For an inexperienced player, getting out of a bunker is difficult and usually eats up strokes big time.

One would usually use a sand wedge in this situation, but it depends on the skill level and confidence in the golf swing accuracy.

The Green – The object of our desire.  Usually a wave patch of ground with a cup placed into a hole.  Normally there is a flag sticking out of the hole so that the players farther down the fairway know what to shoot for.  You will always use a putter on the green.  To become a really good golfer you must become an excellent putter.

It is bad form to mar a green as it is incredibly delicate and difficult to maintain, so be careful and repair any marks you make on the green.
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Scoring – How to talk the talk

Every hole on a golf course is designed to be completed within a certain number of shots or strokes.  If you complete the hole in the exact number of strokes it was designed to take, your score would be at PAR.  Some holes are designed to take 5 strokes, so this would be a par 5 hole.  Some are designed to finish in 3 shots, thus Par equals 3.

Your score is based on whether you are shooting more shots than par or below par for the entire course.  So, if the Par for the entire course is 72 and you shoot 1 over par for each hole, your score would be shown as either +18 or 90. In other words, for the entire course you would be 18 over par and thus your total score would be 72 plus 18 to give you a total of 90 strokes.

Even though this sounds like a large score, very few people can play well enough to get a score below 100.

Birdie – On each hole that you score one stroke less than the Par, that is called getting a birdie.  So if the first hole is a Par 5 and you get the golf ball in the hole by stroke 4, you’ve birdied the hole.

If you birdie the first hole, then you would be on the leader board at a tournament and your score would be shown as -1. Each hole score (whether + or -) in relation to par is continuously calculated. So two birdies in a row would put you at -2.  Go get ’em Tiger!

Par – For each hole that you get the ball in the hole in the same number of strokes as the course designer determined, then you would shoot a par for that hole.  If you shot a Par on your first hole your score would be shown at +0. If you shot Par on every hole you would still be shown at +0.

Eagle – If you hit the golf ball into the hole 2 shots better than Par, then you have just eagled the hole.  For the best golfers, this is where their money is made.  They can reach a green in 2 shots that would take the rest of us 3 tries to get if we are lucky.  The pro will then usually make a reasonably long put where we might take 2 shots.  We would have a shot a “five” on the hole, they would have a score of “three” which is two strokes better than par.

Hole in One – If your tee shot goes straight into the hole, well, no more explanation is needed.

Green in Regulation – If you are on the green and yet still have two strokes left to make Par, then you have hit the Green in Regulation (G.I.R).  All golf hole Par values are designed to allow two putts.  Therefore, no matter what the Par is for the hole, the hole is designed so that if you are good, you will arrive onto the green with 2 shots left for Par.  So what if you miss the green in regulation? You can still save Par by getting:

Up and Down – Even pro’s miss greens in regulation.  Yet they still rarely shoot over a hole’s Par.  The trick to this is to be very accurate with your wedges when the ball is somewhat close to the green. Some pro’s are so good at short game chip shots and pitch shots that it is very much like putting for them.  They don’t care about missing a G.I.R. because they know that they can make close shots from just about anywhere. If needed, they can also put backspin on the ball.

With all of this information in your back pocket you can now talk the talk or understand what the heck Jim Nance is saying in those whispered tones while watching the Masters.

Back to page 1 of this golf instruction tips series.

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