Beginner Tips for Rapid Learning (of a Very Difficult Game!)

1.) Purchase a set of clubs that fit YOU. Hand-me-down or borrowed clubs are economic, but having equipment that fits you is paramount in developing good technique. By the same token, you don't need the most hi-tech, high priced clubs--arguably, only the most advanced golfer will notice the effects of cutting edge technology.

2.) Begin by taking a minimum of five golf lessons from a professional golf instructor. Trial-and-error learning (or getting tips from someone at the range) will leave you flailing and frustrated for years to come. Learn from a Pro starting on day one and you'll avoid coding in bad habits and technique that will plague you for years. Perfecting the fundamentals early-on ensures you'll see constant gains in this difficult sport for years to come. Don't hesitate to take further lessons on an as-need basis. Instruction on the all-important short game is invaluable, and a playing lesson or two with a Pro is the best way to learn crucial on-course strategy.

3.) Practice, practice, practice. Get to the range at least twice per week. Make a written training schedule that you will stick to. People don't normally use the words "golf" and "training" in the same sentence, but by thinking of your practice sessions as training seems to make it a more serious commitment you're not likely to blow off. Remind yourself that inconsistent or random practice means slow--or more likely NO--gains. Do you really desire to learn or improve at golf? If so, get on a regular golf training schedule!

4.) Work on all aspects of the game. Find a driving range that has a bunker and/or a putting green. Favor hitting off grass areas as opposed to turf mats. Work all your clubs, and focus on the problem clubs. Warm-up by hitting a few dozen balls with your "good" clubs, then get to work on target-oriented practice with the one's that give you problems. Always finish each session with a few great shots.

5.) Play a minimum of two rounds of golf per month. During your first few years in this sport it's best to play for practice as opposed to performance. Sure, it's nice to score as low as possible, but don't obsess over score early on. This will lower the pressure on yourself and free you up to experiment and try chancy shots on the course. This is undoubtedly the best approach for developing wide-ranging skills and to foster long-term gains. Most important, have fun regardless of how well you are playing!

Lisa Ann Hörst is Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based teaching pro. Her new book, Golf Training: The Secrets to Effective Practice and a Lower Score (Finally!), is being heralded as "the most comprehensive guide to better golf" available that will "positively transform your game."

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