New Golfers – How To Play Your Own Rules

New golfers

When you’re just getting started with golf, chances are you’ll be full of enthusiasm but perhaps not so much talent. That’s totally natural, we can’t all be Jack Nicklaus!

If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about being on the course, surrounded by more experienced players, I would encourage you to try playing alternative rules to the standard rules of goals. Here’s 5 ways to play by your own rules…

#1. Scoreless Golf

Yes, we all want to get our handicaps down but one of the best ways to practise golf (without the pressure) is to skip the scorecard altogether. As a beginner, playing without keeping score allows you to focus more on both the swing and your mind. The more enjoyable your experience is, the better you’ll play. Giving yourself space to absorb the surroundings and take in the course will allow you to lean into the game and improve your skills. 

Scoreless golf is not just for novices, more experienced golfers can also benefit from playing without competing. When you’re not keeping score, you remove the competitive drive to win. As my mum used to say, it’s not about winning - it’s about taking part!

#2. Key Hole Golf

Another variation you can try is keyhole golf. One step up from scoreless golf because in this version, you set yourself goals for a number of key holes you want to do well in and you keep score of these. Study the golf course and pick out 5 holes you’d like to set a target score for - it might make two over par, one over par, making par (or better) on them use your scores as a benchmark for next time. 

Playing this way removes the pressure of having to be your best at every hole. You are essentially playing against yourself instead of others so again, it’s less about winning and more about the satisfaction of playing better.

#3. Max Headroom

Another way to free yourself from a scorecard is to play maximum headroom; a method where you choose a maximum score relative to the par you can make. Commonly used in charity golf events and occasions where you don’t have unlimited time, this is a great option for individual play. 

Eliminate frustration and delays by setting double bogey as the maximum score. This will give you plenty of swings on each hole. Score!

#4. Fairway Golf

If you’re concerned about holding up the group behind you, why not try moving everything up to the fairway for the first few rounds? No matter where it gets hit, the next ball is dropped on the fairway and played from there. 

This way there will be plenty of time to practise your shots without the hazards of bunkers and worrying about how long you are taking on each hole.

#5. Stroke & Distance

Another game for newbies to enjoy while setting realistic goals, Stroke & Distance is simple to play. The concept works like this… whoever advances their ball closest to the hole after a certain number of shots wins that hole. When you’re new to being on the golf course, playing this way establishes an “ever forward” mindset which is great for increasing confidence.

Sure, you might not even make it to the green on some holes but you can still experience the satisfaction of winning the hole in your group or finally clearing the water!

Ultimately we all want to improve our game and be better on the course but it’s worth remembering that alternative rules (your own!) can provide an experience equally as memorable as playing a standard game.

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