A Guide for Casual or New Golf Fans

ADDINGTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Nicholas Olson (R) and Bill Sangster (L) of Chart Hills Golf Club walk down the 1st fairway during the Golfplan Insurance PGA Pro-Captain Challenge - South Regional Qualifier at Addington Golf Club on August 21, 2015 in Addington, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

I have written several articles about this year’s golf season, and as much as a seasoned fan knows about the game, perhaps others can use a guide to understand the game a little more so they can enjoy it. There are different terms and aspects of the game that when I talk about it. My friends who don’t follow it they have a glassy-eyed stare. So I thought this may help add some more fans to the game and show you what you are missing. Here is a guide for casual or new golf fans.

A Guide for Casual or New Golf Fans

The Scoring

This is what confuses people who don’t follow the most and what many need a guide for. While in other sports, the higher the score the better. In golf, you want to have not only a low score but a negative number score, the lowest being the winner. I will break this down as simply as I can for you.

Each hole on the golf course (there are 18) has a number set of how many swings you can use to get the ball from the tee into the cup. This is called the par number for the hole. Depending on the length and difficulty of the hole it will be either three, four or five. If you complete the hole in the number of swings allowed, you are par or even for that hole. If you complete it in fewer swings than allowed you are below par. One shot less is called a birdie, two shots lower are called an eagle. On a par three hole, of course, getting it in one shot is called an ace instead of an eagle.

Are you following so far? I don’t want the guide to sound complicated, you really don’t need to let the names confuse you. There are names for too many swings as well, a bogey is one shot too many. A double bogey and a triple bogey for two or three shots too many. Any more than that, yes amazingly it happens, rarely but it does. They are called four over par or however many shots were used. As I said, this seems to be the most confusion for people who don’t know the game. And seems to be one of the things that push them away from trying to watch. But in all honesty, you can watch the game and learn as you go without worrying about the scoring. That does tend to come as you watch, but learning other parts help.

Really, How Easy do They Make This Look?

When you watch a golf match on tv, and you see these guys stepping to the tee, hitting the balls a few hundred yards and then move on the take their second shot. They make it seem so effortless at times. Well, guess what, nope, there is not only a lot of effort but a lot of skill. And this is something that a guide doesn’t quite aid. This is something that takes years of practice, patience, and skill. For quite a few people, it also takes a few dozen golf balls lost each time they play until they get their swing right.

That said, once you start to learn the different tricks and tactics to get the ball to do what you need it to do. You start to really understand and appreciate how well these professionals play their game.

Different Clubs for Different Jobs

Ok, again without getting crazy technical here. A full set of clubs contains 14 clubs. There are different kinds of being, drivers also called woods, irons, wedges and the putter. Each club not only has a different weight but a different job. Here is a basic guide to what they are and what they do.

The driver or wood is the largest in the bag, easily identified by size and shape. These are mainly for the first hit of a hole. Though on long par five holes the second shot is sometimes also shot with a driver. The weight and size of it give the most power and the greatest distance, but there is a drawback to its power. It is the least accurate of the clubs, there is an extra level of finesse needed to get full power and aim out of it. But those who can get a great advantage over those who wield less power.

The irons come in different sizes as well, each one giving a little more distance than the one smaller. These are the most common, especially for second shots or short par 3 holes.

The wedge is for when your ball goes into a sand bunker, which you want to avoid whenever possible. Its shape allows you to get under the ball enough to dig it out of the sand. Of course, this takes practice as well. Done wrong, the ball will barely move and you will need to take another swing. Though the wedge is also for a short distance out of thick grass or other surfaces depending on what the course you are playing on offers.

The putter is the last club in the bag and obviously is important to finish off the hole. Once on the green, you use this club to tap the ball in. There, it’s that easy.

Why Do Golfers Talk to the Caddies So Much?

If you don’t know the game, you could think the caddie is just someone who carries the golfer’s clubs. Well sure he does, but he is much more involved than that. Having a good caddie that you not only trust but get along with well can be the make or break point of your game. The caddie keeps track of the scorecard, what hole you are on and how far the hole is from the tee. Then will tell you how much further you have from where you hit the ball to where the tee is.

He will help guide you with golf club selection, help gauge the wind resistance. One of the biggest things he will help with is reading the greens. The green is the surface near the hole which is the final goal of each of the 18 holes. The green in finely cut grass, immaculately maintained, but even still, each green is different. Depending on the slant of the ground, the cut of the grass. Even the weather can affect how the balls roll on this surface. So it isn’t as clear as, aim straight for the hole. Sometimes you have to aim completely away from it to catch the ‘break’ and have the ball ultimately get in the hole.

Last Word

I hope this guide helps those who are thinking about watching but aren’t quite sure yet. Or are a little confused or intimidated by not knowing a lot about it. Given the chance, you can find this to be an amazing sport to follow. The shots can be either amazing or completely heartbreaking depending on how the ball decides to go. If you enjoy sports, in general, I think, given the chance you would truly enjoy a nice relaxing Saturday or Sunday on the couch watching a round. Or even better, go out to a local driving range and hit a few balls and see how it feel to you. Fore!!!! (That means lookout.)

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