Once you've gone through the steps in Chapter 1 and practiced enough to feel at least somewhat comfortable with swinging a club, putting and chipping, it's time to take off the training wheels and play some real golf. The best place to start your on-course experience is at a par-3 course or an executive course, since they're shorter and more laid-back. If there are no such facilities in your area, sign up for a nine-hole round late in the day at your local muny.
Here's how to prepare for your first round:
- Learn the basic rules and etiquette guidelines. __Don't attempt to play golf on a course until you know the fundamentals of the game's rules and etiquette. You can buy a copy of The Rules of Golf from the USGA's website for $2, or go to Amazon.com and order one of the many easier-to-read, illustrated guides to the same rules. Ask your instructor to give you some ideas of the most important things to know before hitting the course. For instance, when playing a round of golf, you need to stand still and be quiet when someone else is hitting or putting; avoid stepping on another player's line on the putting green; replace or fill the divots you take in the fairway; and keep carts away from tees, greens and bunkers.
2. Call and check if the course you're playing has a dress code. You don't need to buy specific golf clothing, but many facilities require that you wear a shirt with either a collar or sleeves, and have length restrictions for shorts and skorts. Jeans are largely a non-no, as are cutoffs and gym clothes. But you can wear sneakers if you like, and, unless you blister easily, a golf glove isn't necessary.