Are you a new or early-stage golfer who’s been out hitting golf balls but find herself everywhere EXCEPT on the golf course because you’ve fallen prey to the limiting belief that the fairways are only for ‘good’ golfers?
If this sounds like you, then keep watching because this episode is just for you! I’m going to empower and share with you three simple, specific, and stress-free ways that all golfers - particularly new and beginning golfers - can get out there feeling comfortable and confident on the golf course.
Even as beginners, it’s important to get out onto the golf course because that’s really where we learn to play golf versus just hitting balls. So in this episode, let’s dive into three surefire strategies to help you get on the course - even if you’re new to the game!
1. Short Courses: Executive & Par-3
These types of courses can be found in lots of places (including more densely populated areas) and they’re great because they allow us golfers to fit in more frequent rounds of golf due to convenient locations and shorter length.
2. DIY Course Length
Sometimes, an executive or par-3 course is not available. Instead of teeing up from the prescribed teeing areas for each hole, you create your own, that is do-it-yourself (DIY)! Simply select a distance to the hole that is challenging but not overwhelming, and make that your starting point for each hole.
3. The Scramble Format
Thanks to its versatility, the scramble format is suitable for golfers of all levels of skill and experience. For this reason, it’s one of the most popular playing formats for corporate events, fundraiser outings, and tournaments. But you don't have to wait for a special event to try it out!
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Welcome to the Smart Golfer Podcast, where we help aspiring golfers improve their skills, strategy, and knowhow for better performance, fun and play. I'm your host, Dr. Greta Anderson, and I am excited to help you move from just hitting balls to playing your best golf. So let's get to it. Now, as an LPGA professional, I have the privilege of spending lots of my time with people who are really passionate about learning golf and developing their skills. Now, so many people invest significant time and resources and effort into really working on learning how to strike the ball and do all those types of things. But even with that, the golf course can be incredibly intimidating for people. And even as beginners, I want you to know this it's really important to begin getting out onto the golf course because that is really where we learn to play golf versus just hitting balls. So today we are going to dive into three surefire simple, fun strategies to help you get onto the golf course, even if you're new to the game. Okay? So strategy number one, I call it short courses. Now, short courses can fall into two buckets. They can be executive or they can be par three. And so let's start with talking about executive courses. These are courses that oftentimes you can find them in more densely populated areas, cities, maybe not city centers, but definitely in cities and suburban areas, but more densely populated areas. I guess that's what I'm trying to say. And they are great because they allow us golfers to fit in more frequent rounds of golf. You don't have to drive across town and they're able to fit them into kind of our city and suburban lives because they are smaller tracks of land. And so with that, oftentimes an executive course can still very much be 18 holes. And it's not like it's going to be super short, but it certainly won't be extremely long. And that's one of the beautiful things about them. So executive courses attract golfers of all levels, but most of them are very beginner friendly because their shorter length makes them ideal for golfers who may not hit the ball very far just yet. And that works out very well. Moreover, this type of course is really a great environment for getting accustomed to just being out on the fairways because there is a rhythm and cadence to being out on the course and keeping things moving and learning where you need to be and where you don't need to be and all those things. And so it takes practice, and so shorter, more friendly courses really help with that. Now, to be clear, an executive course may very well have 18 holes, but on average the holes are considerably shorter than those that we find on what we term as fulllength golf courses. Specifically, an executive course will likely have more par three and par four holes than longer courses designed with a focus on more significant length and overall difficulty or complexity in design. Now, the other side of the short course equation would be those par three courses. And I love par three courses for a bunch of reasons. But here's the big one. They are absolutely perfect for new and beginning golfers looking to get beyond that practice range and ready to get on course. They are just the perfect introduction to being on the golf course. Now, as the name implies, every hole on the par three golf courses, guess what? It's a par three. Right? And what does that mean? It means that while some holes may be a smidgen longer than others, none of them are going to be very long. In fact, most par three courses are walking only courses, making them an ideal place to again get comfortable with the flow of orange course play while practicing those shots on the turf, the greens and even the rough. Yeah, because we're going to get in there from time to time. So between the executive and the par three course, those are perfect opportunities for you to get out there if you've never been on the course very relaxed, don't worry about the rules. But you do want to always exercise a little bit of pace of play and we'll be talking about that in future episodes. But those two options should work perfectly for you. Strategy number two, we call it the DIY course length. Now, you're probably going, what the heck? Doctor Greta, let me tell you, sometimes an executive or par three course is just not available. It might not be any in your area or you may be traveling or something like that. Now, moreover, there will be plenty of times when you have access or an opportunity to play a full length or what we term a championship course. But don't let that word championship scare you. For you, it just means that the course is definitely going to be longer and probably a few more what we term hazards or opportunities to end up in some stuff, as we would say out on the golf course. But don't let the word championship frighten you. Now, maybe if you're new to golf and you've taken a beginner golf class or maybe if you've watched kids, as we call them, juniors, if you've watched the juniors take a lesson, what you'll notice is this on the course, instead of teeing up from the prescribed teeing areas or regulation ti boxes on each hole, we create our own. I mean, that is where we term it. Do it yourself, right? We simply select the distance to the hole that is challenging but not overwhelming and we make that your starting point for each hole. So for example, if the forward t on a hole is, say, 280 yards, but you're not quite yet able to hit the ball more than 50 to 75 yards, let's tee the ball from 100 yards at 100 yard point in the fairway. And when I say that, I mean that you have 100 yards to go to get onto the green. Thanks to all types of available technology, we're able to measure distances to the whole and other targets quite easily. Now you may find that depending on where you're playing, even the golf carts are equipped with that built in GPS that provides a very precise on course yardage. And if that's not the case, there are an absolute tons of apps and digital programs that make it easy to track the yardage via smartphones and smartwatches, I mean you can track them for basically every golf course that exists is listed in most of these apps. So it's terribly easy. And then there's also technology which again we'll talk about technology in a future episode. But range finders can also help us to easily identify our desired distance. So between one of these technologies you can use them to identify your desired distance, what feels comfortable for you and then once you move forward to that, it's time to tee it up and play out the hole. With all this you might be thinking, doctor Greta, why is this better? Modifying the length of a hole or finding these short courses to play? Why not just hop on the range and hit some balls? Because playing a round of golf using a short course or a DIY length strategy allows even a beginner golfer to play a full round of golf that is appropriate for the parameters of her skill set at that time. It allows the golfer to work on all of your golf skills, just like the golfers who tee it up from farther back. Right now, not only is it no fun to never reach the green in a timely manner with your playing partners or even if you're out playing alone, playing from an inappropriate distance for your skill set can be frustrating. Really. It's no different than when more seasoned golfers are playing from far too far back on the tee boxes. It's like, if you will, the relatively intermediate level golfer who decides to play from the professional team. It just doesn't make sense. So it's the same thing here. So I want you to know that there's no crime or no shame in doing it. In fact, you're doing yourself a favor because one, you're going to be able to hit more shots by doing this. Because let me back it up and say this. When you choose to play from a distance that's not appropriate for your existing skill set, you are going to struggle to maintain pace of play, which means you're going to continuously feel pressure from the other people on the course, perhaps from course management. It's just not a fun scenario. And more importantly, you never get to work on your short game. You'll never get to pitch, you'll never get the chip, you'll never get to put because you're going to be struggling to keep up pace by hitting down the fairway. And that's just not fun. And from a developmental standpoint, it's not going to help you. Now, enjoying the full course experience is going to be again, it's going to be so unlikely because you're going to be scrambling and rushing. Inevitably, you're going to end up picking up before you get a chance. Like I said, chip, pitch and putt, as I like to say. Right. With that, I just encourage you to identify an initial course length. You know, you can experiment with that. Maybe it's 100, maybe it's 200, maybe it's 150. Whatever the case may be, find a starting distance and guess what? You're going to get better and better, right? Because you're working on your game, you're playing smarter golf, and you're going to find that you're going to be able to move it on back and before you know it, you're going to be able to tee up from one of the regulation tee boxes. But in the meantime, that doesn't mean that you should not be able to enjoy the golf course and use that time out on the course to both have fun and to develop your skills. So we're already at our third smart top strategy for beginners, getting out on the golf course and having success. And that third strategy is one of my absolute favorites. And I love playing this even as an experienced golfer. And that is called the scramble. The scramble format. Most golfers know about the scramble. Scramble is super fun. I tell you why I think so. I love it because it is versatile. It is suitable for golfers of all levels. Like I said, I'm a golf professional, right, card holding professional. And I love the scramble. In fact, I play a scramble whenever I have an opportunity, frankly. But it's suitable for golfers of all skill levels and experience. That is why you'll find it to be extremely popular. And you'll likely end up playing in a scramble. When you play a corporate event, when you play a fundraiser outing or a variety of tournaments, it's usually going to be in the scramble format. And it's because every golfer has an opportunity to hit lots of shots and contribute during the round without that pressure or fear of failure and disappointment. Because you're part of a team and that's what makes it so cool. So it's kind of like the best of both worlds. Now, in the scramble format, if you're not familiar with it, let me explain. Each member of the team hits a tee shot. So we're starting out the whole boom. Everybody hits a tee shot. Let's say there are four people on the team. All four of us hit our tee shots. Then we head on out to the fairway to determine which shot is the best, which one is sitting the best. Maybe it's the distance, maybe one's a little further, but it's in taller grass. Whatever the case may be as a team, we decide on which shot is best. After we've made that decision, the other three people go and grab their balls from their landing spots and we all drop right there, right next to that shot that we've determined to be the best one. And then all four of us get to take our shots from there, our next second shot from there, and we go through that process until the team completes the whole. Now, when you're playing in a tournament or fundraiser, what you'll find is most of the time the local rules. And they will talk about what local rules are all about. The local rules will probably put a cap on the number of strokes per hole to keep the course moving and you don't want things to take forever. That's what I'm trying to say. So just to keep the pace of play moving, there's usually a shop maximum per hole. But in that situation, you can see, even if it's not a turn, if you're just out with friends, you can see how this is a fun format. You're working as a team, yet everyone gets to hit plenty of ball. So even if there's someone on the team who's much better, they're not going to get to hit any more shots than the people who may be brand new. And that's what makes it so fun. And you get to work on, again, the variety of shots. Because in golf, we don't just hit the long ball. We have to putt, we have to chip. We do all of those things. So it gives you an opportunity to work on everything without the pressure of it being all about you. So all three of these options are versatile for newbies, for beginners, but also all of these strategies can work really well for more veteran golfers who may use these formats in different ways for practice and skill development. I know that I love all of these. I love short courses because it's a nice fast pace. It doesn't take all day to play it around. I love to do it yourself because it can allow me to work on very specific shots. I love to scramble because I can play with friends and people of all different levels without any pressure for me or for them or anyone in between. So you see, there's a place and a space for everything, just as there is in golf in general. So I want you to think about these three options. And I really want you to remember now that there's no more about you not being able to get on the course because you don't have experience, okay? So in the meantime, I want you to remember that you are perfect for golf, but more important, golf is perfect for you. Thank you so much for joining us this week on the Smart Golfer Podcast. Make sure you visit our website at dr gretaggolf.com where you can subscribe to the show using your preferred podcast platform so you'll never miss a show. 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