Golf can be an intimidating sport for a beginner. There's a lot to learn, from the types of clubs to the mechanics of the golf swing to course rules and etiquette. In most respects, a beginning woman golfer is no different from a beginning male golfer. However, golf has a long history of sexism, and women still are treated as second-class citizens by many people in the golf world. So beginning women golfers have one extra obstacle to cope with when they take up the game.
If you are new to golf, you should acquire equipment that will allow you to work on basic skills with minimal expense. Golf Digest advises you to start with a few used clubs -- driver, putter and sand wedge. Mix in a 6-iron, 8-iron, pitching wedge and fairway wood or hybrid when you start to make solid contact. Use cheaper golf balls since you'll be losing a lot of them when you first start playing. Remember to lather on sunscreen and wear a good pair of sunglasses in sunny weather. Bring healthy snacks and water and hydrate often.
The right teacher will be patient and encouraging, and enjoy teaching rookies. Your teacher should focus on solid fundamentals, including a proper grip and set-up, explaining them in a way that is not excessively complex. She should teach the short game as well, instructing you in putting, chipping and bunker shots from the sand. Some public courses and park departments offer group golf lessons at a reasonable cost.
Golf Digest emphasizes that golfers are athletes. Don't get so lost in the complexities of the golf swing that you forget to swing at the ball in an athletic fashion. The back swing can be compared to a baseball player getting into the hitting position; the swing itself can be compared to a hockey player blasting a puck. Getting in golf shape by stretching and strengthening your golf muscles and overall conditioning will help your game and help you avoid injuries.
Study up on the basic rules and etiquette of the game. For example, if you ground your club in the sand in a bunker, you might be surprised to learn you've just broken a rule and earned a one-stroke penalty. If you talk or move into your playing partner's line of vision when he is hitting a shot, you'll wear out your welcome in a hurry. When you are ready to hit the links, take baby steps. Play on a shorter par-3 or executive course, then play a few holes on a regulation-size course and work your way up to a complete round when you are comfortable.
Many courses welcome women golfers and play host to women's golf tournaments, but some private country clubs restrict play by women or prohibit women members. Ask other women golfers for recommendations when selecting a course where you can feel comfortable, or consult websites such as LPGA Golf Clinics for Women, which provides a list of the most women-friendly courses in the United States.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.