A beginners guide what to buy and how to get started playing golf
During the summer pandemic lock down golf was one of the only sports people could do outside masked and alone. With less competition for outdoor activities, the pandemic has provided golf with an opportunity to attract new participants. In fact, in 2019, women made up about a quarter of all golfers. They are especially interested in off-course golf experiences, including golfing ranges, comprising up to 40% of all off-course golfers. That’s me!
Learning to Play
My journey learning to play golf actually started in the late 90’s. I walked to the local driving range and took a lesson. It seems strange to think you can take a golf lesson in NYC but at the time I did. I would go to Chelsea Piers which was state of the art (for urban living) and hit golf balls. Imagine in the heat of the summer, when others were frolicking at the beach or their parent’s pool; I was sweating it out hitting balls. Later, when I was living in Jersey City, I would go to the driving range about 30 minutes north of me an hit balls towards the river (there is pattern here) Ironically, I never played a round, so I think that’s why it never stuck.
Flash forward to, 2 years ago when my husband started playing golf with a friend from work. Scott has played off and on for many years. For a while he was fairly good, but he never had anyone to play with so he stopped playing. Last year he asked me if I had ever played. Funny question right? Well…. I practiced a lot! He of course laughed. In 2020 Scott played a lot and he plans to play just about the same this year if not more with me. In 2019 I suffered a herniated disk in my lower back, by the end of 2020 I promised Scott I would learn to play again in 2021 as long as my back held out. The goal would be for us to have something to do together now and 10 years from now.
When I first started this adventure the item I dreaded was buying clubs. It’s often very expensive. But I’m also a huge proponent of used equipment when you are first learning. I innocently thought I would rent for a few months and then buy something. However, on our first trip to the driving range I learned that many ranges and courses in NY are not renting because of Covid-19. Then when we found one that did, I was given men’s beaten up irons that were brutally beaten, bent and heavy plus 1 lefty.
So I began my research on golf websites that specialize in used clubs, amazon and eBay etc. I will level set with you – I have no issue with clubs that has a few scratches. Every online chat session ended with the salesperson pushing sets by brands I never heard of. The set of clubs for $900 was not going to be way to go. After that, Scott and I agreed, it would be better to have fewer, high end clubs that you reach for over and over. He admitted half his clubs he never uses. Plus, the technology today is leaning towards hybrids which would put older lower irons and other fairway woods in the “old” category.
We determined I would need the following: A good driver, a short set of irons #7-9, plus a sand wedge, a pitching wedge, a putter and 1-2 hybrids for the fairway. What I found and have bought so far (all used): Cobra Ladies F-Max Airspeed Irons, Odyssey White Hot Pro 2.0 V-Line Putter, Cobra F-Max Rapspeed Driver.
Whatever sport I start, I always believe in lessons. One of the first things Scott did this year, was to get me a lesson with the Golf Pro. In March, I had my first lesson with Trevor at Tucson National Golf Course. It gave me the right way to get started again and ensure I had stuff to work on for the weeks to come. That lesson served me well but there is also a ton of videos on Instagram, The Golf Channel, Golf.com and YouTube. My favorite show is Golf Academy on the Golf Channel. I record and watch it every week. I will be taking more lessons this summer and I will be giving Scott a few of his own as well so he an improve his drive following his foot surgery last year.
The Driving Range
Between April 23 and May 5, 2021, the number of rounds sold online at public courses that were open was up 60% from the previous year. When you visit a driving range today you can see the growth of the sport by sheer number of people slugging away at golf balls. If you don’t get there early in the morning you have to wait quietly for others to finish. The golfers cue their bags behind the stripe and wait quietly with their face masks while other golfers finish their basket. I watch attentively and see if I can learn something.
Driving ranges are a strange beast. It’s a factory. Find a stall, get your small or large basket of balls and swing away. Rain or shine people seem to be there. Over the next two hours you practice your swing with each club in your bag or just a few select clubs, but always the driver. In my case, every swing I am trying to remember what the Golf pro taught me or something I read. Most of all it’s fixing a bad habit left over from 7 years of playing field hockey in junior high and high school. If you are lucky enough to go with a friend, have them take a video of you so you can improve your swing.
Cute Golf Clothes
Cute women’s golf clothes are out there. There is a lot of mediocre stuff, but anything cute and stylish you have to find through instagram and random blogs. There is not one women’s golf style blog (shame because that would be a very good segment). I am going to do a spring wrap-up on cute golf attire but for now I suggest Nike, Puma, Addidas, Nivo, GFore and Golfino.