Getting started in Golf
With the cooler months around the corner, this is the ideal time to make a start in golf. If you are one of those sporty types who have been looking to make a break into the game, my advice is to use the better weather, find a friend who also wants to start golf and don’t procrastinate further.
Learning golf is full of positives – you get to breather some good clean air in the middle of a green oasis – away from the noise and crowds. The learning environment of Golf is a world apart from your normal places of visit.
Start out by becoming a member of the Indian golf union (IGU) – which is not difficult. Check out their website at www.indiangolfunion.org from where you can download a membership form. In the past to become a member of the IGU, you needed to first be a member of a golf club (a Catch 22 situation)– but this has changed. Anyone can join now and get preferred rates and access at IGU member golf clubs.
To get started, plan on going to the club of your choice on the weekend for around two hours each day for 5 consecutive weekends. Each time spend one hour with an instructor and the second hour on your own. The instructor will show you the basics – how to position your hands on the grip, how to stand to the ball – how to aim your shots and how to determine what shot to play. The starting position and preparation for the shot is half the game and time should be spent in getting the posture and position of the ball relative to your feet and body correct.
If you can take some time off from work – then spend ten days going to the course for two hours per day and you will have achieved more progress than someone who has been going twice per week for 6 weeks. After the initial ten days make sure you venture onto the course with an instructor.
The clubs are the best source of information on who the instructors are. Generally for good instructors, lesson rates vary from Rs 400 to Rs 1000 per half hour. Its well worth paying the fee because of the time and frustration you will save.
The fee for playing on the course varies around Rs 500 to Rs 2000 for an 18 hole round which takes 4 – 5 hours. You will need to take a caddy who carries your clubs and can be a helpful guide around the course. Caddies get paid between Rs 200- 300 per 18 hole round.
Equipment: Contrary to popular belief golf equipment is not terribly expensive. A beginner’s set can be purchased for as little as Rs 10,000 for the complete set which is good for the first couple of years unless you become an avid player and want to go in for a quick upgrade after the first few months. Practically all leading international brands have distribution at the club pro shops and you can spend anywhere from Rs 30,000 to Rs 1.5 lac or more for a good set of clubs.
The preferred brands are Callaway, Ping, Titleist, Taylor –Made, Wilson and Mizuno. Shoes are made by Footjoy, Adidas, Reebok and Nike and can set you back between Rs 3000 – Rs 10,000. Of course they will last you three to five years depending on how regularly you play. Initially as a good pair of normal jogging / walking athletic shoes will do.
A glove is useful to prevent blistering of the left hand. You can pick up good locally made gloves for around Rs 100-200 or go in for the name brand like Titlist or Foot Joy at around Rs 600-1000 each. A glove will last you between a month – six months depending on how much you practice and play.
For the rank beginner – you do not need to invest in all this equipment on day one. At the club, you can rent a club for a nominal fee of Rs 20 per club to take your initial lessons. You will need to buy 25 or so practice balls at around Rs 20 each and those should last you at least a month. Every time you go to practice you will use these golf balls, a couple of rental clubs – a 5 iron (to learn the full swing), 9 irons (to learn the short chip shots) and a putter – to learn the all important art of putting. Hire the services of a ball-boy who you will pay Rs 100 for your two hours session – he will collect your 25 practice balls during your practice and return them to you to hit again. All this can be coordinated by your instructor at first.
So its easier than you think to get started in golf – a reasonable investment to begin with and a lifetime of pleasure awaits you. Make this winter season your time to get into golf.