So you want to play golf: A beginners guide
American author Mark Twain once famously quipped that “golf is a good walk spoiled”. The frustration that so many players feel when talking about the game, could curb any possible enthusiasm that you may have had about taking it up.
The truth however is that golf is on the rise. With record numbers of courses opening every year, prize money and viewing figures in the professional ranks higher than ever and a resurgence in membership figures. So if you are thinking about taking up the game, what do you need to know?
The basics - The aim of golf is a simple one. Using a set of various clubs, the player attempts to strike a golf ball from the starting point, (the tee box) to the finish (the flag/hole) in as few strokes as possible. There are 18 holes on a professional course and each hole is given a suggested number of shots (par). On a par 5 hole the player must attempt to get from tee to hole in five shots or fewer. The winner will be the player who completes his round of 18 holes in less shots than any other player. Playoffs are held for players who finish on the same score.
What you need - Well it may sound obvious but the most important things for anybody wanting to play golf are a set of clubs and balls.
In any round a player can carry 14 clubs in their bag at any one time. The following is a typical set that most players will carry:
        A driver (D) - Used for long tee shots
        Woods (3w/5w, 7w) - Used for shorter tee shots or for longer fairway  shots
        Long irons (3i, 4i) - Used for long fairway shots and to tee off on long  par 3 holes
        Medium irons (5i, 6i, 7i) - Used for medium fairway shots and to tee off on short par 3 holes
        Short irons (8i, 9i) - Used for short fairway shots or long pitches
        Sand/pitching wedges (sw/pw) Used to pitch or chip onto the green or  to escape a hazard such as a bunker
        Putter (p) Used to putt the ball when on the green
When a player is choosing their clubs they should seek professional advice to make sure they are the right size. Most good sports retailers will sell full sets at a reasonable price. Once you are more experienced,it is possible to have custom clubs made although this comes at an inflated cost.
Basic shots - There are several types of shots that all players must learn to perform if they are to master the game of golf. These include driving, iron play, chipping, pitching, and putting. Each type of shot has a different purpose and must be used at different times during the round. Understanding both your limitations and when to use the shots is key to good golf management and the rewards of getting it right are priceless. Pick the wrong shot and you could pay the penalty when it comes to scoring.
All players start each hole with what is referred to as the tee shot. This shot takes place at the ‘tee box’ which is a  predetermined distance from the flag. The length of the hole determines if the player uses a driver or an iron and the ball is struck from a tee which is a small wooden peg placed in the ground.

After playing the first shot you could be in three places. On the fairway but a fairly long distance from the hole, this is where a long-medium iron/fairway wood (3w, 5w, 3i, 4i, 5i, 6i, 7i) shot is required. You could be short of the green or in a hazard such as a sand filled bunker where a pitch or a chip is required, for this you would use a short iron or a wedge (8i, 9i, pw, sw) or you could be on the green (usually on a par 3) where a putter (p) is required.

Practice - It goes without saying that practice improves your game and that it is the fastest way to see positive results in terms of scoring. Practice gives you an understanding of how far you can hit the ball with each club and that, in turn, leads to better course management. Another key benefit is that it helps you to get into the correct position before, during and after a shot, allowing greater control and accuracy.
Looking online, there are various websites that will point you to practice drills and exercises, websites such as YouTube will give you visual tutorials and you will also be able to find your nearest driving range.
What to wear - Wearing the right thing on the golf course or when practising is essential. Companies such as Le Sports can provide you with everything that you need to look stylish and to conform to the regulations that many courses have.
When kitting out your golfing wardrobe,  remember that a large range of movement that is required for golf, so clothing must be light and loose fitting so that you aren't constricted. You must also remember that the game is played outdoors, therefore it is essential that you prepare for any inclement weather.
Most golf clubs will be for members only and even those which aren't, may have a dress code, this normally includes, tailored golf trousers or shorts, which are smart and well fitted. It is also common practice that players wear a collared sports shirt. The last thing is to make sure that you have the correct footwear. Proper golf shoes are specially designed to deal with the strain of covering lots of undulating ground and the range of movement whilst playing. The soles are normally studded to ensure good balance.
Successfully buying the right equipment and practising both the physical and mental aspects of the game will mean that you are ready to play on a full course, and unlike Twain, hopefully you will find the sport to be as enjoyable as the walk.

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