4 Terrible Golf Tips For Beginners (By a Beginner)
A buddy and I realized we had recently hit the point in our lives when we should throw our hands up, declare "I quit," and just start playing golf. We're going full speed in the fast lane heading toward irrelevance anyway; might as well mash the gas and sail off the cliff into oblivion. Simultaneously, I've reached the summit of my laziness, and now pretending to be athletic is just as good as actually being athletic. In that sense, golf is perfect.
I'm still at the stage where the game might as well be a massive, unsolvable equation on a chalkboard and I'm a misbehaving student in the corner wearing a dunce cap. Still, I've collected a few tips and tricks for people interested in learning how to play perhaps the laziest sport you can make millions playing on a professional level -- just some things a beginner should have in mind before they ever play their first round.
Vent Your Repressed Rage Through a Weird Mannerism
We all process pain differently. When I get sad and mopey, I bury myself within an impenetrable barrier of video games. Maybe you eat lots of junk food or go for a long run. None of those things are around to soothe your aching soul when you suck at golf. I can't hit a ball over the fence and into the street, then immediately play Skyrim for seven hours. I play at my absolute best when my negative emotions are bottled and my eyes are glazed over, locked in the perpetual thousand-yard stare of a madman.
A great golfer.
My bottled rage will leak out and present itself in the form of deeply examining the head of my club after my usual failed attempt to accomplish the daunting task of hitting the ball. I guess I'm trying to do some Terminator/RoboCop ocular scan of the club for evidence so I can track down the asshole who messed up my shot and repeatedly miss his head when I try to beat him with my clubs. When my friend blows a shot, he steps back and stretches his neck side to side, loosening the blockage that's preventing professional-level skill from flowing to his limbs. Another friend will do something terrible, then glance back at the rest of us with a look that says, "Whose fucking idea was this?! Was it YOU?!" As the day stretches on and he still hasn't won a PGA championship, his look will say, "I could be sleeping right now, but instead I'm mad at grass."
All of these moves are involuntary, and they're all tiny outlets for our frustrations that are as unique as extremely pissed-off snowflakes. Find yours early and rely on it as much as you can so you don't flip your shit and replace someone's eyes with golf balls you've palm-punched into their head.
Another thing that will always be unique to golf beginners is the advice beginners give to other beginners. Kind of like what I'm doing right now. So, when you're just starting off ...
Make Sure Your Terrible Advice Contradicts Everyone Else's Terrible Advice
Two things were immediately apparent when I began playing: Everyone's just guessing, and no one is good at golf. It's all skills, tricks, and tips derived from dozens of different YouTube tutorials and wikiHow guides; hearsay of a technique that will let you drive a ball to the moon and back and still get you two under par on every hole, and legends of a magical club that can enslave the world. The urge to want to join in on the fun and give out my own uninformed advice is stupid, unnecessary, and so damn tempting. You might feel it too when you're just starting out. This is why you have to make sure whatever unwanted advice you give your golf buddies goes against the advice everyone else is giving.
"Did Greg tell you to hit with this end? Pfft! Greg's been saying weird stuff since his wife died."
Why? Because golf advice shares a lot in common with the horrible, paranoia-fueled rumors and conspiracies that crop up on your Facebook feed after a major tragedy -- when there is no definitive answer, people will make one up. So do your part: Make up some shit.
I say that like you're going to do this on purpose -- you won't. You're going to do it unconsciously, because you'll think that your whole three weeks of experience make you a mystical oracle possessing all universal knowledge. So, it's in the best interest of everyone you're playing with to listen carefully to someone's advice, then decide that they're an asshole who doesn't know dick about shit -- you, and only you, know all the dick about shit! So, a couple of holes later, give out your twist on that same advice, completely disregarding the advice your friend gave because, frankly, he's stupid.
My games are filled with everyone shooting advice back and forth, to the point where it becomes something like the infinite monkey theorem. You know how it goes: a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. If we keep talking, one of us will eventually come up with advice that will enable all beginners to see and manipulate the matrix code of golf. But really, we're dipshit monkeys flinging shit around without a typewriter in sight.
Who Cares if You Suck, You're Driving a Golf Cart! Woo Hoo!
So you whiffed on your initial shot, sank three balls into the water hazard, and took seven putts to get the ball into the hole, only to realize that putting a ball in a cup probably wasn't worth all the effort and testicle sweat. Your anger will rise, your rage will seethe -- but who cares? As soon as you're done disgracing the hole you've just played, you get one of the world's finest consolation prizes: You get to drive a golf cart.
Golf carts are one step above a Power Wheels car in terms of power, they can be rocket propelled by a stiff fart, and they handle with the grace of a rodeo bull. They're nothing special, yet I've still always been fascinated by them. I think it's because they can be driven with a bit more reckless abandon than a car. When I'm driving my real car, I want to drive in a way that will kill most of the people around me. If I had my way and I didn't have to conform to laws and various other things that are bullshit, my vehicular body count would be so outlandish, people would think the news anchor reporting it misread the prompter.
But with a golf cart and tons of open field to explore, I can finally feel free to be the vehicular homicide machine I've always known I am deep down inside. I can slam the pedal to the floor and ramp every tiny hill with little to no repercussion, because going on a rampage with a golf cart is like going on a mass shooting with a NERF gun.
So what if I made so many holes in the ground with my shitty swing that after a while I'm teeing off next to a mole-person? So what if my putting technique looks like a move out of a self-defense training video? Who cares that in just over a month of playing golf I've only landed the ball on the putting green once, yet I can hit a bird, a house, and an Asian lady with ease? None of that stuff matters, because in the end I get to hop into a golf cart and drive away without a care, with the world burning behind me.
Oh, and that reminds me of my most important tip ...
Celebrate Your Pathetic Failures
"Who cares that in just over a month of playing golf I've only landed the ball on the putting green once, yet I can hit a bird, a house, and an Asian lady with ease?"
Remember when I said that two sentences ago? Good times. Well, not for the bird, the house, and the Asian lady -- getting hit with a golf ball was decidedly ungood for them. But I'm terrible at golf, so I'll take whatever victories I can get, even if they're pathetic. If you're wallowing in your failures, you're never going to build the confidence to continue and eventually get better. So, celebrate what others would consider a disaster.
On my first day playing a game of golf on a course that had holes and sand traps and water hazards and all that golfy jazz, I used my 9-iron to hit a ball on the fairway. The ball veered to the left toward a water hazard. In the short time the ball was in the air, I allowed myself to feel the disappointment of having shot so poorly. But then my ball hit a big black crow sitting beside the water and my arms unconsciously whipped into the air in celebration. I wasn't aiming for it -- I couldn't have hit that bastard if I tried -- but damn did it feel good to at least pretend I was accurate enough to hit a bird with a tiny ball from 50 yards out. The bird was fine (it was so big, I might as well have been throwing a pebble at a flying panzer tank), and it flew away more annoyed than hurt, thankfully.
Bet you don't feel so smart now, you idiot.
A couple of weeks later, I was at a driving range. For reasons I'm not experienced enough to understand, I kept popping the ball up really high instead of really far like I wanted. There was an awning covering the area where the golfers stand, and an Asian lady in the booth to my left. I swung and popped the ball straight up. It hit the awning, bounced down, and hit the Asian lady. The ball bounced away, never to be found again -- I think it was trying to save itself from embarrassment. I apologized, she smiled the kind of smile people put on when they want to be polite but actually want you dead, and we continued playing. I couldn't express it with her so close, but I was pretty damn proud of myself. Here I am, trying my hardest to hit a ball 200 yards ahead of me, and somehow I hit a person 5 feet to my left. I don't care about anything anymore -- which I made abundantly clear when I told you I decided to start playing golf -- so I'll take an impressive disaster over an accomplished goal any day.