Golf for Dummies: 6 Essentials for Beginners

You know those “Blank” for Dummies books that became popular in the 90’s? Well, they have a Golf for Dummies version. You can certainly take a look at my review below, and then go buy the book, but try giving this article a shot first!

Let’s talk about golf!

Golf is a game played with clubs and a small, hard ball. The goal is to hit the ball into a series of holes on a course using as few strokes as possible. Golf is a game of precision and strategy, and it can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels.

Basic guidelines for playing golf

  1. Each player is given a set of clubs to use during the round. These typically include a driver, a fairway wood, irons, and a putter.

  2. A round of golf consists of 18 holes, with each hole having its own unique layout and challenges. It is also common to play only 9 holes.

  3. Players take turns hitting the ball from the tee box, which is a designated area where the hole begins.

  4. From the tee box, the ball is (ideally) hit onto the fairway, which is a wide, nicely maintained area leading up to the green. The green is a small, specially-maintained area where the hole is located.

  5. Players use their clubs to hit the ball from the fairway or rough (long grass surrounding the fairway) towards the green. Once the ball is on the green, players use their putters to roll the ball into the hole.

  6. The number of strokes a player takes to get the ball into the hole is known as their score. The goal is to complete each hole with the fewest number of strokes possible.

Basic Golf Etiquette

Golf course etiquette refers to the unspoken rules and standards of behavior that are expected of players on the course. These guidelines help ensure a pleasant and respectful experience for all players and help maintain the integrity and quality of the game. Here are some examples:

  1. Respect other players: Golf is a social game, and players should be considerate of others on the course. This includes not talking or making noise while someone is hitting a shot, and not taking too much time between shots.

  2. Maintain the course: Players should respect the course and do their part to keep it in good condition. This includes repairing divots on the green or fairway (chunks of grass that are dislodged by a shot) and raking the sand in a bunker after a shot.

  3. Follow the rules: Players should familiarize themselves with the rules of golf and adhere to them on the course. This includes things like playing the ball as it lies and an understanding of hazards and associated penalties and play options when entering a hazard.

  4. Practice good sportsmanship: Players should be gracious winners and gracious losers. They should also understand bad shots will occur and to take them in stride.

  5. Know the dress code: Different clubs and courses have varying requirements for personal attire. Some will let you show up in jeans and a t-shirt, while others will require a collared shirt and slacks. In general, a collared shirt is a minimum required.

By following these guidelines, playing golf can be a positive and enjoyable experience for everyone on the course.

Golf Clubs and Their Uses

Golf clubs are an essential piece of equipment for players of all skill levels. There are many different types of golf clubs, each with its own unique design and purpose. Here is an overview of some common types of golf clubs and their uses:

  1. Driver: The driver is the longest and most powerful club in the golf bag. It is typically used to hit the golf ball off the tee on the longer holes, and is designed to hit the ball as far as possible.

  2. Fairway wood: Fairway woods are similar to drivers, but are shorter and less powerful. They are often used to hit the ball off the fairway or rough when the player is not close to the green. They are also used off the tee when a golfer wants to hit the ball with a little less distance than a driver.

  3. Irons: Irons are medium-length clubs with metallic heads and a narrow face. They are used to hit the ball from a variety of distances and are typically used for approach shots and shots from the rough.

  4. Wedges: Wedges are a type of iron with a higher loft, which makes them better suited for shorter shots around the green. They include the pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge. Wedges are also referred to by the number of degrees of loft, 50 degree, or 58 degree for example.

  5. Putter: The putter is a short, low-lofted golf club with a flat face. It is used to roll the ball across the green and into the hole.

Golfers typically carry a variety of clubs in their bag to be able to tackle different shots and challenges on the course. The specific clubs a player carries will depend on their skill level and personal preferences.

As a new golfer, you certainly do not need the latest golf equipment. Used or inexpensive equipment is more than adequate to start.

The Golf Swing

The golf swing is the motion used to hit the ball with a golf club. It is a complex movement that requires proper technique and practice to execute effectively. It is a constant battle to improve and maintain one’s swing. Here are the basic components of the golf swing:

  1. Grip: The grip is the way the player holds the club. There are several different grip styles, but the most common is the “overlapping grip,” where the little finger of the top hand overlaps the index finger of the bottom hand.

  2. Stance: The stance refers to the position of the feet and body relative to the ball. A proper stance should allow the player to balance their weight evenly on both feet and maintain good posture. Feet should be roughly shoulder-width apart.

  3. Backswing: The backswing is the upward movement of the club as the player takes the club away from the ball. It is important to maintain a smooth, fluid motion.

  4. Downswing: The downswing is the downward motion of the club as the player swings towards the ball. The goal is to deliver the clubhead to the ball with speed and precision.

  5. Follow-through: The follow-through is the final part of the swing after the ball has been hit. It is important to maintain good balance and control as the club finishes its swing and the body comes to a stop. Your belly button should be facing the target at the end of your follow-through.

The golf swing is a complex movement that requires practice and repetition to master. It is important for players to focus on proper technique and to work on their swing consistently in order to improve their performance on the course.

4 Basic Golf Shots

  1. Tee shots: Tee shots are the shots hit from the tee box, which is a designated area where the hole begins. These shots are typically the longest of the round, and players will use a driver or fairway wood to hit them.

  2. Approach shots: Approach shots are shots hit toward the green from the fairway or rough. These shots typically require more precision and control, and players will use a variety of clubs (including irons and wedges) to hit them.

  3. Chip shots: Chip shots are short, low-trajectory shots played from around the green. They are designed to get the ball onto the green and close to the hole. Players will use a variety of clubs (including wedges and short irons) to hit chip shots.

  4. Putts: Putts are shots played on the green with the intention of rolling the ball into the hole. Players will use a variety of techniques (including a pendulum stroke) to get the ball into the hole.

Play Strategy and Tips to Consider

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses: Take stock of your own abilities and limitations as a golfer, and use this information to plan your shots. For example, if you are a strong short-game player, but struggle with longer approach shots, you may want to lay up on a long shot that could end up in a sand trap if not hit perfectly.

  2. Consider the course conditions: Pay attention to the layout of the course and the conditions you are playing in. For example, if the fairway is wet and soft, you are not going to get as much roll and this will affect your overall distance. Use that to help select the right club.

  3. Think about the wind: Wind can have a big impact on the trajectory and distance of your shots. Be mindful of the direction and strength of the wind, and adjust your club selection and shot shape accordingly.

  4. Consider the risk versus reward: Golf is a game of risk and reward, and it’s important to balance the potential rewards of a shot against the risks of executing it. For example, going for the green in two shots might be tempting, but it might also be risky if there are hazards in the way or if you are not confident in your ability to hit a precise shot.

  5. Getting into golf shape takes time! It’s a surprisingly taxing game. Core strength is critical, and muscle soreness, as you start swinging the club harder, can definitely occur. There are plenty of golf specific exercises and stretches available. I like the Me and My Golf guys, they give great advice on all aspects of the game.

Additional Resources for Beginners

  1. The game’s mental aspects can be overlooked by most golfers. Read more about the Mental Game in Golf.

  2. Shave strokes off your score with some simple tips. Read more about how to break 100 in golf.

  3. You should play golf for fun! Game details, rules, and etiquette are all important aspects to keep it enjoyable. Read more tips for beginners.

  4. Used golf clubs are perfectly fine, but used golf balls are not okay! Read more on the best golf balls for beginners.

  5. Understanding the golf game includes knowing ball flight patterns. Understanding these can help you diagnose the causes of an errant shot. Read more about golf ball flight laws.

  6. Knowing your club distances is a critical component of being successful at this game. Use our Distance Calculator for a chart of golf club distances.

Review of the Book “Golf for Dummies”

This book was written for beginners but has some content that many amateur golfers will find useful.

From the very beginning, the book does an excellent job of explaining the rules and etiquette of golf in an easy-to-understand way. It covers everything from how to choose the right equipment to the different types of shots a golfer might encounter on the course.

The authors do an excellent job of breaking down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-follow steps, making it easy for even the most novice golfer to understand. The book is also well-organized, with chapters that are broken down into bite-sized sections that are easy to read.

In addition to the basics, the book also covers more advanced topics like swing mechanics and course strategy, while pulling from a team of experts on the game.

golf for dummies book


Consumer Rating:

Topic Coverage:

Quick Facts

672 pages, with both kindle and paperback versions available. Published in 2012, but most topics covered are still 100% relevant and accurate.

Topics covered include:

  • Rules of golf and etiquette

  • Swing tips from all aspects of the game

  • Exercises and mental approach to the game

  • Course strategies

  • Golf gear buying guide


  • Comprehensive guide in one location
  • Exercises, stretching, and basics on the mental approach are solid
  • Good technical breakdown of the golf swing


  • Some of the material can be a bit repetitive, the page count could be reduced
  • It can get a bit technical, potentially too much for a complete beginner

Golf for Dummies Book Conclusion

If you are someone who values having a physical book in their hand and likes to read, this book is a great option for beginners.

On the other hand, if you are just as happy reading articles online or watching youtube videos, check out the “additional resources” section above for free content that covers many of the same topics.

Final Thoughts

I am not a celebrity golf instructor or PGA champions tour player, but I am a guy who has been playing the game for over 3 decades. Over the last couple of years I have re-focused on my game and have been working to improve, with some very positive incremental progress. And I love sharing things I’ve learned!

Golf can be a challenging and rewarding game for players of all skill levels. It’s a great way to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and spend time with friends and family. I hope these resources will help you get started on a successful journey to enjoying the game!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to reach out through the feedback link below. I’d be happy to hear from you!

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