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By Mark Harman, USGTF National Course Director

One of the fears that new golfers have is that more experienced golfers will be judging them negatively, and as a result may be intimidated by the thought of heading to the course.  Once they do get to the course, they may see other golfers with what appear to be great golf swings pounding the ball far down the range with high, straight and soaring shots.  These new golfers may think, “Gee, I’ll never be able to do that.  And I’m sure they’ll look over at me and start laughing.  I don’t think I belong here; maybe I should leave.”

Do you play a musical instrument?  If so, do you remember the first time you played it?  You probably made some sounds that you can only look back upon with amusement.  Golf – or any new activity, for that matter – is exactly the same.  No one who starts the game out as an adult hits the ball very well, if they even hit the ball at all.  Kids may be an exception to this rule, as they seem to naturally pick up things far better than adults.

So exactly what are these more experienced golfers actually thinking when they see a beginner on the range, struggling to get the ball airborne?  Speaking as a somewhat accomplished player, I can tell you I’m grateful that they’re out there.  It shows that our game is healthy, and I welcome them to our family of golfers.  I’m sure other experienced golfers feel the same way.  Yes, we are judging you, but we are judging you positively.

Newer golfers may be reluctant to step onto the course, not knowing the customs and etiquette of the game.  That’s why teaching professionals are in business, to help with such matters.  It helps to have spent some time with a competent instructor who not only can teach the proper mechanics of hitting the ball, but also how to behave on the course.  Sure, some golf courses still employ grumpy old men as rangers who seem to scowl and give everyone a hard time, but they’re fortunately becoming very rare.  And yes, there are still some pro shop personnel who act as if they’re doing you a big favor by “letting” you come out to their course to play, but rest assured: These individuals will not last long in the golf business, and they don’t represent the vast majority of welcoming course employees who are happy that you are contributing to their paychecks and the welfare of the game.

There’s no need to feel intimidated or out of place at any golf facility.  New golfers are far more welcome than they may think, and it won’t be long before they, too, can be considered a veteran of the game.

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