Chips & Divots: Tips for Beginners

The game of golf can be a daunting sport to take on for beginners. However, the sport offers great opportunities for one to challenge the mind and body. Here are some simple tips for beginner golfers to enjoy the game this summer:

Mental Approach:
The mental aspect of golf is one of the most important elements of the game. It is important to have a strong mental outlook toward the game of golf. Having the ability to attain a positive attitude during a round is key. There will be shots and putts that will get away from you and cause you to question your next approach at the hole. If you allow the game to get in your head in a negative manner, you will lose all focus and fun from playing that round.

Posture to the Ball:
The posture is how a golfer stands in front of the ball before hitting. The ideal golfer's posture includes slightly bent knees, upper body leaning over the ball, arms out in front of you and feet shoulder width apart for a clean swing on the ball. Most importantly, a golfer’s stance must allow he or she to feel comfortable before hitting the ball.

The Swing:
Once you have your posture down, the next approach is the swing. The swing can make or break a round. If a golfer does not have a swing down they have no control over their game. For a beginner, it's best to keep your feet planted during the swing. Your head and upper body should remain still. As you bring the club back it's important to keep your lead arm as straight as possible, rotating your hips and moving your weight to your back foot. Keep your eye on the ball as you make contact and allow your hips to continue rotating through the swing. Getting a swing down can take time for a beginner golfer. It's about getting the feel of a swing and getting comfortable with the follow through of that swing.

Putting:
Once you get your swing down, the next aspect to learn in the game of golf is putting. Putting, also known as your short game, can be the toughest part of a golfer's development. A lot goes into your putting approach -- reading greens, how hard to hit the ball and understanding where the pin for certain putts is. For putting it is important that you have a comfortable posture and alignment over the ball. Next, pay careful attention to the alignment of your shoulders. They must be kept square to the direction of the line on which you want the ball to roll. Once you have these two aspects down, you now have to determine how hard to hit the ball depending on the placement of the ball from the hole. Putting is the most important part of the game and must be diligently practiced.

Understanding the Rules:
The game of golf has several rules that can confuse a beginner. As you start to play the game and become more comfortable, you will also be able to better understand the rules. Scoring in golf works somewhat counter intuitively. The lower the score, the better. Score a round of golf by counting the number of times the ball is struck in order to reach the hole on the green. Each contact with the ball by the player is referred to as a stroke. A golfer must use the par rating on the hole to help in determining how many strokes it should take the golfer to reach the green and sink the ball in the cup. The term bogey is one over par. For example, if playing a hole which is rated a par four, then a bogey would be a five or one over par. A score of one under par is a birdie. When playing a par five hole on which a score of four is scored, this would be a birdie. The term eagle is when a score of two under par is shot on a hole. If the hole is a par five, then an eagle would be a score of three.

Hit the Cape May County green with these helpful tips and enjoy summer golfing season! Sand Barrens Golf Club and Avalon Golf Club are excellent 18-hole courses for those up for a full game. Play nine holes before beach time only at Heritage Links of Ocean View. Prefer to brush up on your skills on a scenic par-3? Laguna Oaks, located right off of the Parkway with its five waterfalls and island green, is your best bet.

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